So you want to be a romance writer?
Trouble is, you’re not the only one. Even before Fifty Shades of Grey pioneered a new era of pulp erotica, the romance marketplace was incredibly crowded. It doesn’t mean you won’t succeed, but it means you may have to work harder than you first anticipated.
Romance writing can be fun and sexy, but it’s usually a lot more difficult than amateur authors first assume. Not only are your marketing skills going to need a decent polish, but writing a compelling romance story is trickier than it looks. After all, there’s only so many ways you can write a love story … right?
For a genre that’s defined by such a simple emotional exchange, it’s endlessly diverse. It can be overwhelming for a newbie approaching the romance industry. With that in mind, here are our three essential tips to navigating romance, and taking your first steps to becoming a romance writer.
Know your niche
Romance is a genre with a litany of sub-genres. And every decision you make when writing will dictate a lot about where your work is placed in the market. How explicit are you about sex? Is your lead protagonist a strong dominant type, or a quiet, tender type? Does your work take place in the present day? Are there elements of the paranormal? The questions go on. It’s worth spending some time at your local book store and online to fully take in the scope of the romance industry. Being specific about the possible niches you’re interested in writing towards is a great place to start.
To self-publish, or not to self-publish?
Writing romance should be a fun experience, but the publishing side of it can have an incredibly steep learning curve. Self-publishing is always an option for writers, but keep in mind that it’s not as simple as throwing a romance short story up on Amazon and watching the dollars roll in. It takes a lot of marketing heft and strategy to really start seeing your readership grow. If this is a path you want to go down, you’ll need to invest in some guides (there’s a heap available on Amazon), and spend some time researching your pathways.
Self-publishing is typically suited for those people who want complete and total control over their work, who are incredibly prolific in their writing, and who write shorter titles. A knowledge of the industry is also essential. If you don’t tick those boxes, than you might want to approach a more traditional publisher. (Like For Pity’s Sake, for example.)
Don’t forget character
In the mad rush of romance, inexperienced writers can often forget the glue that holds any story together: character. Your readers will hopefully stick with you for multiple books containing the same character, so you want to make sure you don’t skimp on providing a compelling, interesting pair of protagonists. How these two, or three lead characters interact, how their power dynamic shifts, will be at the heart of your novels. So make sure you’re laying the ground work for characters that can provide a rich story.
If you’d like to dive into a particularly delicious romance story, try Diana Thompson’s Winterflood’s Passion, which you can find here. If you have a romance manuscript of your own, you may wish to try out our manuscript appraisal service for tailored advice.