While there’s plenty of news about the ups and downs of the publishing industry, there’s one cozy corner where everything’s just fine, thank you very much: romance novels. Romance readers are incredibly loyal to the genre. Despite the rocky economy — or maybe because of it! — sales of romance novels have perked along steadily at $1.4 billion per year since 2008. What’s the single biggest factor in the genre’s ongoing appeal? You guessed it: Happily-ever-after endings.
As one fan noted in a recent USA Today story, “I read romances because, for me, it’s real life on steroids. In a really good romance, I recognize myself or others in the characters.” Beyond this, the fan added, even though bad things can and do happen in a romance, she can depend on the fact that somehow, someway, everything will work out by the time she reaches the last page.
Along with reliably upbeat endings, romances offer readers a chance to relax and escape into another world. Like so many of us loyal romance readers crave the magic carpet ride that we all love to seek and find in the pages of a book.
Romance writers also point to a raft of other reasons why their genre is flourishing. For one thing, romances put women center stage and transform them into heroines. They also show women working through demanding situations, making changes in their lives, and overcoming obstacles on the way to achieving their dreams.
Realistic heroines struggle with real-life issues, characters that readers can connect with and even see themselves in, the chance to enter a different world for a while and relax there, stories that offer the hope of better things to come. These ingredients have a universal appeal, don’t they? In our stressful, high-tech world, many readers still yearn to see the right people find each other and make a life together. Maybe those romance writers and readers are onto something! Write on.