In Your Corner: A Month of Romance (part 1)

 

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This being Romance Awareness Month, I thought this would be a great time to tackle the genre here on the blog .We have never done a deep dive into romance before, which I find somewhat surprising, given the number of romance authors I have worked with over the years. So today, we’ll be breaking new ground as I start a new series following the publishing and marketing processes behind releasing a romance novel into the world.

(If you do not write romance, never fear! Many of the steps through which a romance novel must go are the same or quite similar to the steps through which books of other genres must go as well. You’ll simply need to apply your own lens to the information in order to apply it to your work.)

Today I want to ask two very important questions we all have ready-made answers to, but which I think we must revisit to discover what’s really going on.

Who is romance for?

In 2016, Nielsen compiled its research on genre readership into one very handy infographic: “Romance Readers by the Numbers.” While I’m including the infographic here, I absolutely encourage you to read Nielsen’s entire report! It’s full of fantastic information that totally re-oriented my perspective on romance readership.

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At its base level, many of your assumptions are true––of a majority. But I think it’s taking a closer look at those minorities, because if you consider that more than one in four fiction books on the market in 2015 was a romance, and that 16% of the readers reading those books are not female, that still leaves you quite an important market share––compared to, say dystopic science fiction. Nielsen hasn’t updated these numbers in a few years, but if the percentages hold true, that could equate to around 32 million reported units being read by men. Sure, women might be reading five times that many books, but 32 million is not an insignificant number if you’re smart in how you promote your book.

The same holds true, of course, for other minorities! Consider that more readers are not white than are not female, percentage-wise––up to 38 million readers of color relative to the (admittedly rough) 32 million calculation for male readers. And while the Nielsen infographic doesn’t have room to show it, LGBT romance ebook sales are on a sharp rise now that its authors have moved from fanfiction websites into the main stream of publishing and self-publishing. 

Keep in mind that Nielsen can only track books that are sold and tracked with ISBNs, and only about 1/3 of the ebooks sold in the year covered by the infographic (2015) had ISBNs. With ebooks soaking up around half of book sales overall, with that percentage leveling out but still growing (especially during quarantine), that’s a BIG chunk of ebooks that are just … an unknown quantity. Another report from the same year says that “the 2015 Smashwords sales report shows that 89% of their sales are fiction with romance taking 50% and erotica another 11%. K-Lytics indicates that romances on Kindle outsell cookbooks, for example, by a factor of 27 to 1!” Publishing numbers are still, five years later, trying to figure out how to measure and quantify and compare numbers coming from platforms that aren’t selling the written material they’re publishing, or that are publishing paid stories that are not in “book” format. Consider WordPress, storytelling podcasts, and interactive book apps like the ones created for Eric Carle’s The Hungry Caterpillar (as an easy-to-remember example). 

One also has to consider the old library sales that “if you make it, they will come”––readers have to know something exists and is attainable before they come looking for it. So if the Nielsen’s reported readership doesn’t match up to what you know your friends and fellow readers are interested in but aren’t being offered, that might be a sign that you need to help carve out a new niche. It’s not easy, but when it works––wow, does it work! Consider young adult fiction, which wasn’t a significant market share before the one-two punch of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. Now there are dedicated rooms in libraries and bookstores dedicated to that readership. You can definitely launch new trends!

So yes, the majority of romance readers are white and female. But a significant number are not, and for many authors that means that yes, there is room for your unique take on romance. 

This ran a bit long, so I’m going to answer my second question next time so as not to overwhelm you just now:

Who writes romance?

You are not alone. ♣︎

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, below.
Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

From the Archives: “5 Tips to Improve Your Writing this Summer”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: June 15th, 2015 ]

Summer is the perfect time to work on your writing projects and start the self-publishing process. Each week this month, I will offer advice to help you achieve your writing goals this summer. Be sure to check out the last two posts: Kick Off Summer with Self-Publishing and Self-Publishing Authors, Take A Vacation.

This week I’ll share five writing tips to help you achieve your writing goals this season:

1. Read, read, and read some more.

Summer is the perfect time to catch up on your reading wish list and reread some of your favorites. As you sit by the pool or lounge on the beach, be sure to have a stack of books with you. Read a variety of materials over the summer — books in your genre, classic books, books you normally wouldn’t read, newspapers, magazines, even children’s books. Reading is one of the best ways to improve your craft and find inspiration.

2. Browse Pinterest.

Now, you might be thinking that Pinterest is just a way to avoid actually writing, but it can be a great resource for writers. You can use it to collect inspiration for your stories as well as promote yourself and your work. The key is to be strategic in how you spend your time when on the website.

3. Practice writing.

While it’s important to work on your writing project, it’s always fun and smart to take time to just work on the craft of writing. Read a book or blog about improving your craft. Do short writing prompts. Join a writing group. Try writing something in a different genre. All of this “playing” can improve and inspire your writing projects.

4. Try something new.

Novelty is important for writers because the best characters and stories are often inspired by simply living life. This summer take time to try new things. Go to a new restaurant. Visit a museum. Go to a sporting event. Take a class. It doesn’t matter what it is. It just has to be something you’ve never done before.

5. Create a writing space.

Where you work impacts your productivity and creativity. While everyone’s ideal work space is different, it is important to set up an area in your home, or find a place you can go to, that helps you get in the mood to write. Make it clutter free. Hang quotes or photos that are inspirational. Have all of the materials you need in one place. Play some inspiring music.

I’d love to know, what are your doing this summer to improve your writing?

We’ve talked a bit recently (more recently than 2015!) about preparing for the upcoming summer, and I’m back today to synthesize past, present, and future–wait, that sounds a little too grand a statement. But, well, in a sense it’s accurate.

Do these points still hold true? Yes they do. And while there are other tips which might improve your writing this summer (in particular, you might swap out hopping on Pinterest for hopping on any other visual or social media platform), there is nothing to replace the more basic precept of expanding your taste and range (by reading), gathering information and inspiration (by browsing online), practicing, experimenting, and protecting your writing process (by protecting your writing space … and time).

if there was one “tip” I would add to my list this spring, as we transition into planning for summer, it’s this: Struggle. And don’t fight it … outsmart it. As Anne Lamott writes in Bird by Bird, writing is as much a process of foundering as it is of succeeding, and anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something. She writes:

“But how?” my students ask. “How do you actually do it?”
You sit down, I say. You try to sit down at approximately the same time every day. This is how you train your unconscious to kick in for you creatively. So you sit down at, say, nine every morning, or ten every night. You put a piece of paper in the typewriter, or you turn on the computer and bring up the right file, and then you stare at it for an hour or so. You begin rocking, just a little at first, and then like a huge autistic child. You look at the ceiling, and over at the clock, yawn, and stare at the paper again. Then, with your fingers poised on the keyboard, you squint at an image that is forming in your mind — a scene, a locale, a character, whatever — and you try to quiet your mind so you can hear what that landscape or character has to say above the other voices in your mind.”

Listen to those “other voices” this spring and summer. There will always be distractions and things competing with your desire or ability to write, but the fact that they exist does not make you a failure, the same way that actually being impeded by them doesn’t make you a failure. You will find your way through the thicket, and you’ll do it at your own pace and with the unique imagination which makes your work stand apart.

summer reading

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

How Writers Can Celebrate National Anti-boredom Month

July is National Anti-boredom Month, which encourages everyone to find ways to fight off boredom. Luckily, writers have a special weapon against boredom: creativity! Here are five creative activities to help you “celebrate” anti-boredom month.

1. Read.

Reading is a great activity to beat boredom. It can take you to places far, far away, introduce you to characters  you’ve never met, teach you lessons or skills, and allow you to see the world from a new perspective.

2. Play writing games.

If you search online or visit your local bookstore or library, you can find plenty of fun writing prompts. These simple activities can get your creative juices flowing and may just spark a great story idea.

3. Try a new art.

Many authors find they enjoy other forms of art, such as music, painting, and photography. Study the work of these artists, perhaps by visiting a museum or local art show. Also, try your hand at a new medium. Learning a new craft won’t only keep you from getting bored, but it could also inspire your writing.

4. Travel.

Traveling is a great way to beat boredom and inspire your creative work. Even if you can’t travel to a far away place, spend some time this month traveling to new and unique places close to you. You can easily find a list of local attractions online, or ask other locals their favorite places to go.

5. Write.

Writers are always complaining they don’t have time to write, yet ironically, you’ll also find these same writers saying they’re bored. Fill those moments of boredom with writing! Whether you’re waiting for your food to arrive on your lunch break or sitting on a train ride home, break out the notebook or laptop and start writing. Once you finish your manuscript, start working on the self-publishing process.

I’d love to know, how are you celebrating National Anti-boredom Month?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

3 Ways to Find More Time to Write

Since I didn’t post on June 21, I want to wish you a happy belated summer solstice! It is one of my favorite days of the year because it is generally the longest day of the year, which means I feel like I have more time to get things (like my self publishing projects) done. Even if you missed the opportunity to work on your writing this summer solstice, you can still find ways to stretch your days and make more time to write. Here are a three ways.

1. Write while you drive!

The average person in the US has a 25.4 minute commute to work. Round trip, that gives you almost an hour of writing time every day. Invest in a voice recorder and work on your stories while you are driving. You can simply brainstorm ideas or speak entire passages to transcribe later.

2. Write while you wait!

How often do you find yourself waiting in a doctor’s office or in the carpool line at school? Use that time to work on your writing. Keep a notepad with you or download an app on your phone that lets you record your thoughts.

3. Write on your lunch hour!

Just because you work during the day doesn’t mean you can’t find time to write. On your lunch hour, find a quiet place and break out your notebook or laptop. Even if you only work on your project for part of your lunch break, those extras minutes add up.

I’d love to know, how do you sneak in time to work on your self publishing projects?

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

3 Summer Writing Tips for Self Publishing Authors

Although it feels like summer has just begun, it will be over before we know it! If you have time off in the summer, you may have summer writing goals, but it is easy to get distracted by all the fun summer activities and forget to work on your writing.

With that in mind, I’d like you to ask yourself a question today — how are you doing with your summer writing goals?  Have you found yourself wrapped up in summer events — vacations, going to the pool, late night bonfires, enjoying the outdoors — instead of writing?

If you find you aren’t devoting as much time to writing as you would like, maybe it’s time to redirect your goals.  Rather than miss out on the fun of summer, use this season to inspire your writing. Here are three ways to do so.

1) Write outside

No one says you have to work in an office, coffee shop, bookstore, or library. Instead, take your computer, notebook, or research material with you to your favorite outdoor location (the beach, the park, next to the pool) and work there. You will get to enjoy the summer sun as you write.

2) Let summer be your inspiration

Maybe you can’t find the inspiration to work on your current project because you are distracted by all the fun summer has to offer. Take a break from your current project and work on something inspired by the season. Perhaps, you could write fun poems or short stories about your summer vacation.

3) Think ahead

If you stay committed to your writing now, you may be able to enjoy the benefits by the time the holidays roll around. Books make great holiday gifts, so keep at your goals and you could just be a self-published author by the end of the year!

I’d love to know, how is summer impacting your writing goals?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.