Self-published writers are a large part of publishing’s billion dollar romance industry, but they still don’t get the credit they deserve. Here’s why that needs to change.
. . . .
It’s April 2019, and the line to get into Girl Have You Met, a book signing that focuses specifically on Black independent romance novels, is wrapped around the corner in Memphis, Tennessee. Women stand in line chattering, some with large bags they’ll use to hold their mountain of book purchases, others attempting to peer inside the glass windows to get an early glimpse of their favorite authors.
While those who peruse the New York Times to find their next read have probably never heard of most of these writers, the scene in Memphis isn’t uncommon at book signings that predominantly feature independently published romance authors. Pre-COVID, events like Book Bonanza, Behind the Pen, Indie Love and a swath of other events held in cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New York were the same — sold out.
To say that independent romance is a beast in romance publishing is a well-known understatement. Indie romance has actually changed the business across the board, setting trends in craft and marketing strategies. But perhaps most importantly, indie romance has reshaped the narrative of what kinds of stories readers really want.
Take, for example, popular book vlogger, Mina Thomas.
“When I read Something Like Love by Christina C. Jones in 2017, I cried over my first ever experience reading about a bisexual Black woman like me,” says popular book vlogger, Mina Thomas of MinaReads. “Indie romances often provide me with representation that is often slow to show up on the traditionally published market.”
. . . .
“People have such antiquated ideas of what a romance novel really is,” says acclaimed romance author, Marie Force, whose independently published novel, 2013’s Waiting for Love, helped set a new precedent for the enormity of the genre when it became a New York Times best seller. She’s sold a staggering ten million books to date, including over 900,000 books last year, the bulk of them self-published.
“Romance is a dynamic, diverse, billion-dollar-a-year genre that celebrates the act of falling in love in so many different ways,” she says. “Of course, the ‘act of falling in love’ is also associated with sex, so that makes the romance genre taboo or racy or ‘porn,’ a word romance authors hate to have associated with our work. It’s just so disrespectful of the width and breadth of what romance really is.”
Nevermind that indies often have scores of faithful readers who, on average, devour multiple books per week, and have tight, vibrant branding, which means they regularly dominate USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists (those indies would be New York Times best sellers too, if it still counted ebooks).
Link to the rest at Shondaland