RWA National: The Contemporary Romance Market

Authors Susan Andersen, Robyn Carr, and Kristan Higgins, joined by agent Maria Carvainis and ably moderated by Jill Shalvis, conducted this panel discussion on the state of the contemporary romance market. Here are some highlights from their talk:

  1. Readers are engaged by the intimate worlds that have been created by the author, to the extent that the locale itself is practically a character.

  2. Writers distinguish themselves from others through their voice and tone–that’s what differentiates the books.

  3. Fewer accounts are buying books in all markets, likely as a result of the recession and changed buying habits, not because of e-books.

  4. Weathering the market takes stamina (keep writing!) and a strong belief in self.

  5. Each author knew clearly what she offered readers in terms of their individual voices and the tone of their books.

  6. Author branding is a good thing if you can express it clearly in a few words, but you can’t identify your brand until you’ve written a few books. Brand emerges from the writing, not the other way around.

  7. It’s smart to read extensively in your chosen market to see what readers are buying, however

  8. Modeling your books on what successful authors are writing is bad advice.

  9. Find a support group who will be truthful with you. In the case of an agent, seek one who will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.

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