This weekend I discovered that romance really does rock. (I’d always been kind of leaning that way, but it’s good to have these things confirmed).
Over the weekend I attended The Romance Writers of Australia annual conference. Although I’ve been a member for a couple of years, it was the first opportunity I had to attend their annual conference as it was being held here in Sydney. So I took my slightly sick to the stomach self off to the conference on Saturday morning with a mixed sense of trepidation and excitement.
I didn’t know what to expect. Sure, I’d read the monthly newsletters and these people seemed like a relaxed bunch, happy to share their love of romance and tips on the craft. But 300+ of them all in one place at the one time?
Kind of intense.
But good intense! More like the oh my god, isn’t this amazing and (deep breath) exciting intense (it is a romance writers conference after all).
And you know what I learned?
Romance writers are friendly
Super friendly. For a newbie such as myself, it was wonderful to have several members actively go out of their way to talk to me. One lovely member seemed just as determined as me to help me track down my publisher in the crowd (thank you by the way!) I had another kindly offer to let me use her room to get ready for the gala dinner. Yet another showed concern about my annoyingly specific dietary requirements. And the list goes on.
Romance writers are a diverse group
It was a veritable melting pot of women (and a few men, don’t forget the men!) From well-established authors, to full time mothers, writers just starting out, to the veterans who had been writing for more than thirty years. There were many like myself who were well-established in their professional careers who had chosen the writing path. It was a fascinating group of people. Some were scientists, others were accountants, or nurses, and I met a few marketing folk like myself. This was a seriously impressive bunch of people who had all united together for the purpose of celebrating their love of writing romance and learning more about the craft.
Romance is a serious craft
So just in case you didn’t fully appreciate the fact: there’s a whole lot of work that goes into developing a page turning romance novel. The conference offered expertise on all elements of our craft, from developing conflict and characterisation, to world building, revision and editing, not to mention self-publishing or the fact that a love scene is about more than just sex (trust us, it is). We had it all. Publishers to pitch to and a wonderful group of talented speakers from Australia and worldwide including author Cherry Adair, Harlequin Editor Malle Valik, Smashwords Marketing Manager, Jim Azevedo and many, many more.
Romance deserves to be taken seriously
Of course, as an author of the genre, I take romance seriously. Unfortunately an issue that writers of romance come across again and again is a tendency for the general public to look down their nose at what we write. However, there among my peers it was blatantly obvious that our genre is committed, passionate and talented. And the proof is in the figures:
- 70% of the top 10 Smashwords titles are Romance
- 70% of the top 100 Smashwords titles are Romance
While I don’t have any Australian figures, statistics from America are telling:
- More than 64 million people in America read a romance title in the last year
- Estimated annual total sales value of romance in 2013: $1.08 billion (source: BookStats)
- Oh, and in case you were wondering who reads that fluff? In America, 42% have a bachelors degree or higher.
Hopefully I don’t need to convince you. Like me, you’re already aware that Romance Rocks! And I’ve got to say, after this weekend, I can confirm that the writers of romance definitely rock too.
As for the person who dented my car during the weekend: you don’t rock. Leaving a fake note on my car (because you were no doubt guilted into leaving something because people were watching you) you so don’t rock. Not even close. I’m now plotting your death in my novel. I’m currently working on the next in my angels and demons series, in case you’re wondering, so it’s going to get messy. A whole lot of fire and brimstone messy with consequences lasting for eternity. You crossed the wrong writer, buddy…
Excuse my rant. Romance Rocks! And don’t forget it’s Read a Romance month. For more information go here.