Are You Self-Publishing Romance? – Maybe You Should Be

Self-Publishing Romance Novels

Self-publishing romance is the king (or queen) genre in ebooks.

Are you writing and self-publishing science fiction, historical fiction, mystery, or detective stories? Perhaps you should consider a change of genres.

One genre is dominating ebook sales in particular.

No prizes for guessing that this genre is romance.

The popularity of romance

In an article on Flavorwire, it looks at the success of 50 Shades of Grey, and why the self-publishing boom may be over. It contradicts itself towards the end of the article with this very interesting statistical snippet.

Yet romance has stayed steady in print, and it’s simply exploded in e-book sales: in 2010, it occupied 19 per cent of the e-book market, and by 2014 it had grown to 24 per cent, which means for every four e-books sold, one is a romance.

This long article traces back on the success of the self-publishing romance genre. There are some interesting insights into why it is such an attractive, and lucrative genre for writers.

MacLean, who’s been publishing with HarperCollins since 2010, has observed the fervent reading habits of romance fans up close. “Romance readers are tremendously passionate about their books, and they read on average ten to 12 books a month, which is way more than most readers do,” she says.

The appetite of romance readers has been a particular boon for self-published authors, with most cranking out their stories at a quicker clip than your typical traditionally published author. MacLean averages about two books a year, while Erickson, as Monica Murphy, completes a book roughly every two months.


Romance ebooks represent 24% of the market!

So, if you are considering changing genres, could you write for a readership that represents 24% of the book-buying market? The following quote from the article makes it pretty clear as to what is necessary.

What makes a romance novel successful?

Books break out because they fulfill the very intense criteria of the best of the genre. Romance needs to hit beats that are driven by emotional investment in the story.

The form, in some ways, is very prescribed, and what makes books interesting is what they do with that form. “It’s a very visceral experience for readers,” says MacLean, who also writes a romance review column for The Washington Post.

“Many readers see themselves in the stories and are able to imagine their lives in different ways through romance, and those things are not to be discounted.”

Romance readers want to feel everything, to care deeply about the relationship in the story, getting both turned on and thoroughly invested in whether or not the central relationship has a shot in a world that suffers cruel and delicious twists of fate, right up until the happy ending.


If you’re an author, perhaps it’s time to forget about spaceships, aliens, pirates, and alcoholic detectives and write for an audience, which is buying ebooks like crazy.

Are you self-publishing romance? Food for thought.


More reading: How To Publish A Book The Right Way To Reach More Readers

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent writing and blogging, as well as testing and taming new technology.

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3 thoughts on “Are You Self-Publishing Romance? – Maybe You Should Be

  • Avatar for TeMika Grooms
    February 18, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    I saw this comment on twitter and I appreciate that you are sharing this having been “in” the industry. I still have aspirations for traditional publishing, but I really enjoy creating books and bringing them to market myself. I guess its just the DIY girl in me. #powerfulwe

  • Avatar for Alice Orr
    February 18, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    This assures me that I’ve taken the right road as I publish my first novel in 16 years. I was an agent for many years representing mostly romance authors and that was the right road because we did a lot of good work together and frankly we made a lot of money too. Before that I’d edited mystery novels but also Regency Romances and that’s how I discovered one of my top clients Jo Beverley – definitely another right road. Before and during the editing and agenting gigs I published my own romance novels – mostly Romantic Suspense actually. Then I took that 16-year hiatus to help raise our grandchildren. Just nonfiction writing then – including a book on how to write and publish popular fiction – but also a lot of thinking about when I’d get back to writing and publishing my own stories and what kind of stories they’d be. The choice turned out to be a natural one – I love a good love story with some sex in it too and I also love the tension of suspense. So – there you go – Romantic Suspense. And indie publishing it as well. No more traditional publishing business malarkey for me. I spent enough time watching that stuff go on from the inside not to want its big stomping feet out of my career path for sure. I can already tell indie pub is another right road. Now I get encouraged all over again by this article. Romance Fiction is still steaming up the sales charts as well as the libido. And romance readers are still the most loyal and enthusiastic readers in the world. Thanks so much for affirming that yet again I’ve chosen the right road.

    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      February 18, 2015 at 3:04 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Alice. And good luck! I don’t believe there is a right or wrong road now though. There is simply a choice at long last, and every author can now benefit from this new luxury.

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