One of the reasons that I chose to write in the romance market is because of just how popular and profitable it is.  Readers devour your stories, and then want more.  This can be both incredibly lucrative, and overwhelming since the demand is often higher than nearly any other genre.

I get asked all the time whether I actually read romance. Truth is, I don’t.  At least not since I was a teenager.  But, unlike genres like historical fiction or even urban fantasy, it’s not a genre that you really have to research.

I write romance simply because it is easier to sell.

Readers in this genre are voracious, and just can’t get enough, especially when they fall in love with your hero/heroine (and it’s your job to make sure they do!).  The good news is that a romance story follows a very basic structure. You could easily write a romance story in as little as a week or two.

Also, there’s an added bonus to writing romance.

Because of the simple outline of a romance story, if you intend to outsource these stories later on, it’s easier to create an overview of a romance story for a ghostwriter and let them fill it in than it is for most other fiction genres that may require extensive plotting.

So where do you start?

By choosing a scorching hot romance sub-genre. 🙂

So let’s start with the obvious: the popular romance sub-genres that you’ve likely already heard about.

Popular romance sub-genres include:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Paranormal romance
  • Urban Fantasy romance
  • Romantic suspense
  • Erotic romance
  • Young adult romance
  • New adult romance
  • Historical romance

I know I’m missing quite a few others, but these are the ones I have experience with.

Now, each of those genres have additional sub-genres, as well. For example, paranormal romance includes: shifters, vampires, witches, ghosts, and much more – all different, but in the same main (umbrella) genre.  Make sense?

Understanding the different sub-genres of romance as well as what readers expect is critical in order for you to build a tribe and sell a ton of books at every launch.

If you don’t understand what readers are expecting in that market, your book is not going to sell well, and those who do buy it will end up leaving bad reviews, and you’ll struggle to get sticky.

Sounds scary?  Don’t worry, it’s actually quite easy to determine your sub-genre angle, and to write a killer romance book that readers will love (and then leave glowing 5-star reviews for).

It’s often called writing to market. It’s a term you’ll hear in the industry from authors who tailor their books to what is currently hot. They follow reader trends, basically.

While some authors refuse to write for market and instead write whatever they feel like writing, if you’re like me, and you’re in this to make money, you really should consider it.

Not only is your book far more likely to be profitable, but there is already a blueprint available just by looking in the bestseller lists on Amazon for what kind of books are outselling others!

The truth is, the romance niche is one that is incredibly lucrative (6-figures easily), but it can also be difficult to break into if you’re not writing in the right sub-genres, not including the right tropes, and you’re not writing to market.

You are building a brand in romance with whatever pen name you choose. That pen name needs to become instantly recognizable as the “romance author who writes _____.”

I originally branded myself as an erotic romance author. Then I “niched” down and created a following as a “erotic romance author who writes BBW characters”. All of my heroines were plus-size.

Niching down made it easier to connect with a very targeted audience of readers and build my following.

Later, I created a second pen name and positioned myself as a paranormal romance author who wrote primarily about dragon shifters, were-bears and werewolves. Again, even in a big sub-genre like that, I niched down.

That doesn’t mean I can’t write in other romance sub-genres. I can, and I do (urban fantasy romance and sci-fi romance, as examples).  But you want to determine your platform and set the tone of your writing early on.

Also, while it sucks because of the extra work involved in creating and maintaining multiple pen names, in my experience, it’s always better to create multiple pen names for genres that are really disconnected (like erotica and say, christian romance), and then only publish those kinds of stories under each name.

I know other authors may disagree, but this is what has worked for me because my readers know exactly what to expect. The only time I break this rule is if my genres are closely linked, even if they’re not exactly the same.

For example, like I’ve mentioned earlier, I have two pen names in romance. One writes paranormal romance, sci-fi romance and urban fantasy romance. Since those three genres are closely linked, I can get away with publishing all of those stories under one pen name without confusing my audience.

Once you have a large following, you can also send out an email to your subscribers asking what other stories they’d like to read from you. That feedback is invaluable. It’s actually how I got into writing urban fantasy romance. My PNR readers responded to my request for feedback and told me that’s what they wanted me to write next.

The same goes for my other pen name that writes exclusively contemporary erotic romance.  There’s no sexy men shifting into werewolves, or fire-breathing dragons published under that name.  Just good old fashioned humans loving humans.

What other sub-genres do I write under with this pen name?

Bad boy romance featuring possessive men and curvy (BBW) heroines, biker romance, BDSM romance, military romance, second chance romance and secret baby romance.

I wouldn’t write christian or clean romance under that pen name because my readers expect some scorching hot sex in my stories, but pretty well everything else goes.

So between these two pen names, I can cover most of the popular romance sub-genres without confusing my readers.  What this also does is conditions my readers to know exactly what to expect when they buy one of my books, which’ll encourage one-clicks. 😉

There is no guesswork involved in their decision to purchase from me.

I can’t stress just how important this is when building your brand. Just like in non-fiction markets, where it’s encouraged that authors write in one main genre per pen-name, the same applies to romance. You basically want to be known as the “go-to-author” in your chosen sub-genres.  You never want to confuse your reader base.

And yes, it will definitely take a bit more work to create multiple pen names. Just start with one and when you’ve been able to cut your teeth on the process, you’ll find it easier to branch out.

I’ll go over the essential hot-spots (and tools) for new authors in a future post, so you’ll know exactly what you need to do in order to quickly create a pen name, and build your online presence.

Tip: If you plan to write erotica, consider writing all erotic stories under one pen name, separating them from your romance stories.

While there can be some cross-over there with readers, there will be many romance readers who refuse to read erotica and if it’s mixed into your backlist, you may piss those readers off.

Just remember, readers have certain expectations based on the genre they are reading, and if you don’t satisfy those desires, they’ll find another author who does.

For example, if you write a romance focusing on paranormal romance, your readers expect lots of shifting action with a strong lead that’s usually the Alpha of a clan, an HEA, and that the hero remain faithful to the heroine. After all, she’s his one true mate, and this is a romance.

Makes sense, right?

With erotic romance, your reader expects the story to be focused primarily on the emotional and sexual relationship of your H/h.

While many erotic romance stories involve a fantastic plot with plenty of action and conflict, the general basis of an erotic romance story stems from the meeting, attraction, conflict and resolution between your hero and heroine.  Failure to provide this may leave your readers unhappy.

And it goes on and on. If you write a historical romance piece, you will want to stay true to the times, the mannerisms, dress, cultural influences, and the language used during a particular period of time.

The best way to nail down a genre and to make sure that you are writing to market is to purchase 4-5 popular books in your chosen genre and study them.

Read how other authors are structuring their story lines, what kind of sub-genre’s they are targeting and then think about how you can create your own unique spin on your story while staying true to the genre.

What to do next:  Purchase a few bestselling stories in your chosen genre and read through them. Write down notes as you go through each story, including the conflict and resolution as well as any ideas that you may have on how the story could have been improved.

Also write down any terminology used that may be specific to that genre.  You will never copy another person’s story, but you will gain a lot of insider knowledge about what readers expect from authors in your genre just by studying those who are currently successful in that niche.

Good luck, xx 🙂

Posted by Kate

Kate is a New York Times Bestselling author who loves making money from all things writing. When she isn't writing romance novels or business guides, she's usually found creating tools and resources that help other writers cash in on their skills.

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