The Writer’s Bag of Tricks

Genre and Trope and Stuff


We’re focusing on the romance genre this week. If you write urban fantasy or another genre, don’t be dismayed. Ideally, there are things you can glean for yourself even in a discussion about the romance genre.

Miscellaneous goodies:

  • In 2013, romance sales were $1.08 billion
  • The audience for romance is 84% female, 16% male
  • Romance sales are approximately 13% of all books sold
  • In 2014, Romance sales equated to 24% of all Adult Fiction Sales
  • 50% of all mass market paperbacks are romance
  • Romance is the largest selling genre of Adult Fiction Sales
  • Romance readers know what encapsulates the central story so you can’t fool them
  • Romance readers like variety so writers have a lot to play with around the central story requirement
  • Most romance readers are educated
  • Most work full-time jobs
  • Most are married
  • Most read voraciously

What makes it a romance?

There are romantic elements in many fiction books and everything from crime stories to westerns can have romantic elements, but this does not make them romance novels. In romance novels, the primary focus of the story is the romantic relationship and everything that happens in the book including the plot, the conflict, and the setting, drives the romantic relationship.

In romance novels, generally, the primary character is someone that readers can identify with. The love interest is charming. The relationship seems impossible, but the story has a believable plot filled with emotional tension until the two characters fall in love and the book ends happily. Most romances are heterosexual based stories, but there is also a market for LBGTQI romances.

Note that Erotica is NOT the same thing as romance, though there is erotic romance. Erotica is about exploring sexual situations for the emotional, social, psychological, and physical issues and is often more about power or image or social standing and/or acceptance. Erotica is not about the relationship.

Distinction within the romance genre:

  • Category romance (series romances)
  • Mainstream (single titles)



  • Contemporary
  • Historical
  • Gothic
  • Inspirational (faith-based)
  • Regency
  • Romantic comedy
  • Romantic suspense
  • Paranormal
  • Western
  • Etc…

More genre-specific goodies next week!


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