The Winds of Change
Good morning! Thank you for having me today at Martha’s Bookshelf. I’m thrilled to be here with you to share my thoughts on how the romance writing industry has changed over the past twenty years.
I published my first book in 1990 so I’ve been around to see many changes in the past twenty plus years. There were less than three thousand members of Romance Writers of America when I started writing and I think there are over ten thousand now. Romantic Times was published like a newspaper not the slick magazine it is today. Conferences were small and big names like Sandra Brown and Nora Roberts were not only there, they gave workshops. You could even take a recorder into the workshops and tape them. Now you have to buy the dvd from RWA, if the author allows it to be recorded. Some don’t.
I think Romantic Times deserves the credit for helping authors learn how to promote their books. Brenda Joyce was the pioneer of self-promotion with her "hunk" bookmarks and splashy RT ades. To use today’s terminology, they went viral and set the bar for authors to compete with that caliber of promotion and thus began the years of mailing "flyers" and bookmarks to fans, bookstores, and other authors. That led to adding workshops on how to promote along with the ones on how to plot, create sexual tension write in the active voice. I think most publishers now expect authors to take a more vital and active role in the publishing and promoting their books.
Back in the 1980s and 90s, everyone wanted to publish with major publishers. We felt we had made it if our books were in Walmart, the airport, and the grocery store. Now, with the birth of the e-book, there’s a whole new competitiveness. The 90s held a revolutionary self-promo tool that would change the face of publishing forever: The Internet. For the first time, romance authors could go online and talk to other romance writers and post on bulletin boards. You were no long home alone, with your thoughts and plot. You could post questions, inter-act with other authors, hook up with people who shared your same interest. Authors and writers’ groups initiated "loops" for members to chat with each other and with their fans. The internet was transforming in how readers and writers connected.
By the 2000s publishers started taking notice of erotica books because of e-publishers such as Ellora’s Cave. Suddenly there were sexier and more graphic romance books. Many authors today aren’t even going to the traditional publishers to be published in print. They are saying, “I’ll just publish it myself,” and are going straight to e-books. Many are doing well. Recently there have been notable successes from authors who have retained their backlist and reissued them online as e-books.
So in my opinion, the romance genre has changed greatly from its infancy in the early 1980s, and I can hardly wait to see what the future holds for the romance writing industry.
For a chance to win a copy of my latest book, the re-issue of A Little Mischief, tell me if you think I left out any of the major changes on how the romance industry has changed over the past twenty years?This giveaway will close 10PM on August 24, 2012. I will pick a winner with Random.org and announce on August 25, 2012.
I hope you’ll pick up a copy of the reissue of A Little Mischief if you missed it when it was first published in 2003. It won the Booksellers Best Award and Aspen Gold Award for best Historical.