A few weeks ago I spoke at a conference for romance novelists, which was fascinating. I knew nothing about that world. Some mindblowers (aside from being the only man there, which was a little unnerving):
- Many of them publish three books a year. Their readers just want to know what happens next.
- One told me that at $4.99 she felt her novel was "priced wrong". I nodded sympathetically at that shameful discounting. Wrong. She felt she was priced too high.
- Fads in the industry are a common complaint. One quote: "I rushed to get on the vampire bandwagon, and by the time my book came out, all anybody wanted was Regency."
- Like everyone else, most romance novelists are getting forced out of limited retail shelf space. Now that publishers have to pay slotting fees to get "cover-out" placement in a bookstore, they're far more conservative about what they'll publish and fewer copies of each book are published. Many writers get paid just a few thousand dollars for their books.
Finally, in doing some research on how romance novelists promote themselves, I came across the following romance novelist site, which sums up my impressions of that world perfectly. I'll post a screenshot without comment: