Long ago when I started writing fiction, my older brother and I had a conversation that went something like:
"Why don't you write a romance novel?" he said. "They always sell."
"But I don't read romance novels," I said.
"So what? Write one anyway."
"I can't!" I said.
He could have done it, no doubt--he's always been a talented writer, but he's never been that moved to write. He just reads a ton.
Over the years the romance genre continues to be one of the strongest selling fiction markets. The romance writers met in Atlanta last week, their 26th annual conference. Here's the stats the Los Angeles Times cited:
In 2004, romance novels generated $1.2 million in sales (40% of fiction sales).
Romance novels have expanded into sci-fi and military tales, increasing male readership from 7% in 2002 to 22% in 2004.
Readers and writers of romance novels are a tight-knit group, enviably so. When PEN ON FIRE came out, I spoke at the Romance Writers of America-Orange County chapter's monthly meeting. (Debbie Macomber was the main speaker.) There were a ton of enthusiastic members present, and some were writers in other genres who enjoyed the community.
There's community in the mystery field, too. Lots of mystery bookstores, lots of events and conferences for mystery writers and readers.
Wonder why that's not so for literary fiction writers. Any guesses?