Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Someone sent me a private e-mail in response to my post about e-books. The question was basically: Wait, so you write romance?

Sorry I gave that impression. The short answer is that I don't write romance.

The long answer:
I write erotica and speculative fiction(science fiction). One of these days I'll write a mystery. Or I'll just slipstream it and combine all those genres in one story. I already have the story. I just need time to write it.

I talk about the romance industry a lot for several reasons. The major one is that represents 50% of the sales of printed books, and probably more like 75% - 80% of the e-publishing world, but that's just a guess based on what I'm see e-publishers offering. Any genre that big can't be ignored, because the readers of romance will ultimately determine where publishing goes and how it fares. (Much as porn chose VHS tapes at the expense of Beta, and also drove the big switch over to DVDs)

Another reason I watch the romance industry with so much interest is, as I've mentioned many times before, they know how to promote. I don't see any other genre reaching out to its core of readers the way that romance does. One of the biggest romance conventions in this country is for the fans, not the writers (although the writers attend in droves). Only science fiction reaches out for its audience the same way, and even then it's mostly about television and movies, not books. I'd love to see queer writers work at being accessible to fans and promoting more, because I think the niche is slowly dying. (I have a few theories on that, but I'm trying to keep this post on track)

One of the other things I admire a lot about the romance industry is the sense of community. I'm not saying that they're all angels, but as a group, romance and erotica writers are generous with information and their time. Comparatively, science fiction writers are rather stingy with advice and information. Mystery writers range the full spectrum. Don't get me started on the paranoia of literary writers I've met. Part of this difference between the genres might be because so many of the writers of romance and erotica are female, and women tend to understand the benefits of cooperation. It also might be that with 50% of the book sales, they can afford to be generous.

So that's the long answer. I don't write romance, but I pay a great deal of attention to what the writers do to boost sales and try to figure out what part of that can be translated successfully into other genres. Some of the culture of romance is unique. It can't be duplicated. But the rest? We'll see.

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