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Breaking into the Romance Genre(s)

Best Selling Author, Anna DeStefano

Breaking Into Romance... Um... What exactly does that mean? 1.

Some examples of those who've broken out Recognize any of these names? •

Tami Hoag

Iris Johansen

Sandra Brown

Norah Roberts

Nicholas Sparks Nicholas Sparks!!! More on that later...

Romance (Anna DeStefano '08)


What exactly would you be breaking into? Romance Genre/Romance Literature Sub-genres All romances have a central love story and an emotionally satisfying ending. Beyond that, however, romance novels can be set in any time or place, entertain any number of plot elements, or convey moods from light and humorous to dark and suspenseful. The genre of romance can be classified into various sub-genres depending on their setting and plot elements. Those sub-genres include: Contemporary Series Romance Series romance novels that focus primarily on the romantic relationship and typically set after 1945. Think Harlequin and Silhouette novels, which, by the way, launched the careers of best-selling authors such as Iris Johansen and Sandra Brown and Norah Roberts. Contemporary Single Title Romance Romance novels which focus primarily on the romantic relationship, released as individual titles, not as part of a series and set after 1945. Think Debbie Maycomber. For a lighter story, you've no doubt heard of Janet Evonovich' Stephanie Plum success. Both of these ladies got their start in series romance as well (Debbie with Harlequin and Janet with Batam Loveswept—she bought back the rights to each of her category titles, to the tune of $1 million a title, rumor has it, and is not re-releasing them). Historical Romance Romance novels set in any time period prior to 1945, and taking place in any location. For a currently popular literary example, think of Jane Austin's novels (of course I'm a Bronte girl myself, so I go for darker themes such as Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre). Inspirational Romance Romance novels in which religious or spiritual beliefs (in the context of any religion or spiritual belief system) are a major part of the romantic relationship. One of the fastest growing, newest genres in romance.


Romance (Anna DeStefano '08)

Novels with Strong Romantic Elements A work of fiction in which a romance plays a significant part in the story, but other themes or elements take the plot beyond the traditional romance boundaries. NOT to be confused with novels like Candace Bushnell's Sex and the City, Lipstick Jungle and One Fifth Avenue. Paranormal Romance Romance novels in which the future, a fantasy world or paranormal happenings are an integral part of the plot. Try Sherillyn Kenyon or Christine Feehan—to of that sub-genre's NYT's best selling stars. Regency Romance Romance novels in which the majority of the story is set against the Regency period of the British Empire. Julia Quinn and Lisa Kleypas are two of the best to try. Romantic Suspense Romance novels in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot. In addition to branded names above, look up Linda Howard and Suzanne Brockman—both whose releases hit every list there is AND got their start at Harlequin. Also, Lisa Gardner might be a familiar favorite for some of you. Young Adult Romance Novels with a strong romantic theme geared toward young adult readers. The fastest growing sub-genre of romance, and where many of those skilled at writing accessible first person literature went, when the "chick lit" boom crested and promptly orphaned a generation of authors.

3. Romance Literature Statistics—show me the money! Here are a few excerpts from Romance Writers of America's market research study on romance reader demographics and the romance fiction industry. These statistics offer insights to help you share in this billion-dollar-a-year industry. Romance Sales (source: Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2008) Romance fiction generated $1.375 billion in sales in 2007. Approximately 8,090 romance titles were released in 2007. PAGE 3

Romance (Anna DeStefano '08)

Market Share of Romance Fiction (source: Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2008) Romance fiction is the largest fiction category in 2007. Romance Market Share Compared to Other Genres (source: Simba Information estimates) Romance fiction: $1.375 billion in estimated revenue for 2007 • • • •

Religion/inspirational: $819 million Science fiction/fantasy: $700 million Mystery: $650 million Classic literary fiction: $466 million

Of those who read books in 2007, one in five read romance novels. (AP-Ipsos Poll) Romance Fiction Breakdown by Subgenre (Of the romance releases tracked by Romance Writers of America in 2007): • • • • • • • • •

Contemporary series romance: 25.7 percent of romance releases in 2007 (yep, that's Harlequin and Silhouette) Contemporary romance: 21.8 percent ("single title" romance) Historical romance: 16 percent Paranormal romance: 11.8 percent Romantic suspense: 7.2 percent Inspirational romance: 7.1 percent Romantic suspense (series): 4.7 percent (Harlequin and Silhouette again) Other (chick-lit, erotic romance, women's fiction): 2.9 percent Young adult romance: 2.8 percent

4. Now, about that fella, Sparks, all my name dropping, and the general perception of what makes a romance a romance... 5. My experience so far... 6.



Romance (Anna DeStefano '08)

Anna DeStefano Anna DeStefano is a best selling author of long contemporary romance for Harlequin Superromance. She's a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award winner, a National Reader's Choice finalist, and a Booksellers Best and Holt Medallion finalist. An honors graduate form Georgia Tech, Anna worked in corporate IT for ten years, finally settling into a career as a Senior Tech Writer. Her dream to publish fiction refused to be ignored, however. And five years after joining RWA, she's the president of Georgia Romance Writers and is working on her 11th full-length novel. Nearly half a million of novels are now in print, in at 6 different countries and 5 languages. She's invited to present her workshops on planning through character, drafting/improvisation, and revision (as well as her new series on communication) at meetings, conferences, and all-day workshops nationwide. Check out the excerpts and great giveaways at and Look for her newest romantic suspense series, Atlanta Heroes. Book 2, To Protect the Child and Book 3, To Save a Family , were both Romantic Times 4 ½ Star Top Picks and are still available online at Her next release will be a novella, released in anthology with New York Times best selling author Vicki Lewis Thompson—look for Winter Heat in January of 2009. For more information, see or


Anna DeStefano Workshop: Breaking into Romance  

Breaking into the Romance Genre

Anna DeStefano Workshop: Breaking into Romance  

Breaking into the Romance Genre