This was linked in the previous post, but I thought it was worth reiterating:
Women are responsible for about 67% of mass market paperback purchases. They are also more likely to be book buyers (in general) than men (about 62% of women are book buyers, as opposed to only about 44% of men). Also, a woman is more likely to purchase multiple books per year than a man.
In 2010, romance fiction made about $1.358 billion in sales. The same year, Science Fiction and Fantasy made about $559 million, mystery made about $682 million, literary fiction about $455 million, and Inspirational fiction made about $759 million.
What this means, boiled down to the nitty gritty, is that romance fiction accounts for 55% of the money made by all fiction.
This really shouldn’t be surprising, and yet somehow it is. Because there’s still that thing about how romance isn’t “real writing” and (worse) romance by women is especially not “real writing” (q.v. that one guy who writes romance and has everyone falling over themselves to praise him, also q.v. the disproportionate attention given to male Young Adult authors).
Gone are the weak-willed, doormat heroines of the 70s and 80s. In the present day conventions of the genre, both the female and the male lead are strong individuals. The characters improve lives that feel somehow incomplete by merging their lives and futures with a partner– falling in love, and managing to develop a strong relationship without compromising their fundamental core.
Here I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the enormous popularity of shipping in fanfic. Romantic fanfic is by far the biggest slice of the fanfic pie, and the reason I point it out is because fanfic is both, a) largely written by and for women, and b) a cultural product with no gatekeeper, which is to say that fanfic becomes popular because it does, not because some studio exec has thrown millions of dollars into marketing it with glossy posters and a TV series.
And yet, when I write, I still often find myself trying to tone down the romance out of some mistaken belief that it isn’t marketable. Because even I’ve bought into the myth about romance not being “real writing”, despite the fact that it’s something I personally enjoy. It took having a story rejected by an agent specifically for not being “hot and sexy” enough for me to really go back and rethink my attitude on this.
It’s sort of like the video game thing, really, where games can have a seemingly endless torrent of gore and violence and rape minigames, and yet consensual sex gets censored, hidden, and derided.
Why? Why so much hate for something so fundamentally part of the lives of (most) humans?
That was a rhetorical question, by the way. I know exactly why.
And, y’know what? Fuck that shit. I’ve got some romance to write.