You may or may not have noticed that people really like to mock romance books. They put down our readers, doubt authors’ talent, make fun of our covers, and call what we love “trash.”
Why do they do this?
I finally figured it out. There are eight distinct reasons why and I’m going to break each one of them down for you.
1) They’re jealous.
Romance is a billion dollar industry (that’s per year, haters). We are 34% of the entire fiction market. Our books sell as much as mystery, science-fiction, and fantasy added all together.
I saw one of our detractors call romance a “subgenre” and – what the heck are you tripping on? Romance is not a subgenre. It is a genre. It is the genre.
2) They’re jealous.
We have all the readers. While the romance core audience is 29 million, more than 70 million Americans read at least one romance novel per year. And they don’t fit in one box: we have readers from all incomes, ethnicities, religions, genders, occupations, languages, sexualities, and backgrounds.
On top of their sheer numbers, romance readers are voracious. Imagine millions of people buying one, two, three books every week. We don’t have to imagine it, because that’s what’s happening!
3) They’re jealous.
When you read romance, you don’t have to choose just one genre. Romance + sci-fi? Yep. Romance + thriller? Of course. Romance + medical drama? Perfect. Romance + historical? Name your preferred historical period. Romance + steampunk? Sounds excellent. Romance + magic? Yes, please. Romance + military? Affirmative. Romance + shifters + firemen + cowboys + time travel? By all means.
And I could go on, but I can tell y’all are dying to get to the next reason.
4) They’re jealous.
Not to start a turf war, but we have the best readers. (To be fair, I also say this about YA.) Romance readers are the most engaged, excited, supportive readers I have ever met. They love nothing more than sharing their admiration – 76% of romance readers regularly chat about their books with friends. They make fan art and post 29-tweet-long twitter threads about how much they love a book. They attend conventions and reader events by the busload, shelling out hard-earned dollars just to rub elbows with their favorite authors and hug their online romance friends.
They don’t judge you for not having read this or that author (though they’re not above insisting “you just HAVE to read this series!!”). Instead, they joyfully welcome new readers, offering unending recommendations of their faves. Incredible lifelong friendships have been forged over the love of these books.
5) They’re jealous.
Our main characters really can “have it all” (AND they get to decide what that means for them!). We have heroines who are smart and funny, with fulfilling lives, and get to be loved for who they are.
6) They’re jealous.
Romance novels are empowering. They can provide healing, hope, and *gasp* entertainment in one shiny package. But don’t take my word for it.
7) They’re jealous.
In a large gathering of multi-genre commercial fiction authors, you will probably hear some version of this phrase: “Even if you don’t write romance, RWA (Romance Writers of America) has some of the best writing conferences and writing groups.” At the local, state, and national levels, workshops put on by romance groups are top-notch. That’s because romance authors are always giving back through teaching, advice-giving, and mentorship.
8) They’re jealous.
When an entire nation of people was raised to believe anything a lot of women like must be silly and unworthy of respect, the romance community stands up and says, “NOPE. Not today, or any day, mothereffers.” Romance novels are about women exercising their agency and we are not about to let anyone deny us that in our choice of reading material.