This is a guest post from Angela James. Angela, editorial director of Carina Press, an adult genre fiction imprint of Harlequin, is both an avid reader of digital books and a veteran of and advocate for the digital publishing industry. She has enjoyed nearly fifteen years of experience in her field, including successfully launching, building and serving as editorial lead for two digital-first presses: Samhain Publishing and, since 2009, Harlequin’s Carina Press.
She has edited bestselling authors such as Alexa Riley, Shannon Stacey, Jaci Burton, Lauren Dane, Ilona Andrews, Lilith Saintcrow, Shelly Laurenston and more. She was profiled in Fast Company magazine as a digital pioneer in the romance publishing industry, has been named New York Romance Writers of America’s 2013 Golden Apple Editor of the Year,
and is the creator of Before You Hit Send, the popular online self-editing and writing workshop for authors. Follow her on Twitter @angelajames.
Trying to predict the next romance trend is as difficult as knowing what the next blockbuster book will be. If we could all do it, well…you know. Still, it’s fun to speculate, so here are some of the things I, as not only a publisher of romance but someone who reads over five hundred romances a year, think will be a focus for readers and fans of the romance genre in the next twelve to eighteen months.
First, I think there will be three key elements readers look for in their stories:
Good guys. Thanks to everyday events and current political tension, I think readers are already drifting away from the alphahole, douchebag hero and gravitating toward a man who respects women, who’s basically a decent guy (maybe with a troubled past, but not one that includes being abusive towards/using women), and who will stand up for what’s right.
Escapism. This is already important to many faithful fans of the romance genre, but again, with the everyday stressors we face right now in the news and on social media, escapism is something more and more readers will long for. Fantastical subgenres like science fiction, fantasy and paranormal romance, and lighthearted, humorous contemporary romance could shine in the coming months.
Diversity. Not a buzz word, but a necessity in the publishing world, across genres. Romance authors and readers have always been especially proactive in letting publishers and authors hear their voices, and this will have the positive effect of us seeing more character and story diversity in walks of life, cultures, gender identity, sexuality, physicality and more.
What I see trending in subgenres:
As noted above, I think paranormal romance is already on the rise. The romance market is absolutely glutted with contemporary romance, and good, quality paranormal romance has not been easy to find on the published market the last few years. Readers looking for an escape, but also something different, will turn more to paranormal, as well as science fiction romance and fantasy romance.
Inspirational and faith-based romance is a growing market segment and it wouldn’t surprise me to see it surge in the next few years as a more conservative readership reaches for romance that speaks to them.
LGBTQ will become more commonplace on the retail shelves, not just the digital shelves. This one is going to take a little longer, because the retail brick and mortar market works more slowly and much further in advance than digital, but the YA market is already paving the way for LGBTQ main characters and relationships in the print market, and it’s long past time for the romance market to follow suit.
So there you have it, a few predictions (and to be honest, maybe some hopeful thinking) for the upcoming years in the romance genre. I do know one thing for sure, though: no matter what comes next, it will always be interesting and there will be a lot of choices for those who love the genre!