Romance Writing: 5 Ways to Write Romance With Respect - Writer's Digest

5 Ways to Write Romance With Respect

Veteran authors of writing romance know that respect is key to success in the market. Here are my five tips on how to write romance with respect, for those looking to break in.
Author:
Publish date:

Romance is a rich, diverse genre with a loyal following of readers and a firm place at the top of the genre fiction market. Since the explosion of self-publishing, new authors who write romance have been coming to the genre every month, providing those of us who love romance novels a wealth of choices and the opportunity to lose ourselves in new stories, unique characters and timeless happily ever afters.

But sometimes there’s one thing missing: respect.

Long-time readers and veteran authors of romance know that respect is key to success in the market. Seeing someone who doesn’t respect or understand the genre trying to capitalize on its loyal audience can be incredibly frustrating to an editor.

So here are my five tips on how to write romance with respect, for those looking to break in.

This guest post is by Angela James. James is the editorial director of Harlequin’s digital-first imprint, Carina Press.

Angela James featured
write romance

Follow her on Twitter @angelajames.

1. Respect the Happily Ever After:

Some people might leave this rule for last, but to me it’s paramount. You may have heard people say that romances are predictable because readers demand one thing in their books: a “Happily Ever After” (HEA) or a “Happy for Now” (HFN). But the truth is, this guaranteed ending is what makes romance work. It generates comfort, satisfaction and positive feelings within readers. And while readers might know there’s a happy ending on the way, romance is anything but predictable. The journey, the conflict, the story, the characters and the words are limited only by the author’s imagination. Readers are willing to take a chance on each new story and author because they know a happy ending is guaranteed. Kill off a protagonist, pair him or her with someone else, or leave things unfinished, and you’ll have readers who feel you’ve disrespected them and the genre. In their eyes, you may have written a love story, but you haven’t written a romance.

[Four Tips for Writing for the Romance Market]

2. Respect the reader:

This goes hand in hand with my first point, but let’s dig a little deeper. Respecting your readers isn’t just about meeting reader expectations for an HEA. It’s also about showing the reader you care about their reading experience, appreciate that they’re spending their hard-earned money on your book, and want to deliver them the best possible product. That means writing your best book every time. Hire an editor. Use beta readers. Deliver a quality story that’s as error free and enjoyable as you can make it. Invest money in your product to create a superior reading experience.

3. Respect your brand:

Showing respect to the reader with a quality product will have a direct correlation on the strength of your author brand. Your brand is a promise to readers that they can count on something—quality, voice, great dialogue, unique characters, fantastic world-building and an HEA/HFN—every time they pick up one of your books. How you develop your brand is up to you, but respecting it by always delivering on a promise of quality will help you grow a faithful audience who will not only buy your books without hesitation but will recommend you to their romance-reading community.

170214_TANR_bl

4. Respect your fellow authors:

There’s room in romance publishing for those who long to create, write, publish and, yes, make money. It’s natural to feel a sense of competition, but one of the wonderful things about this genre is the willingness of romance authors to mentor, support and cheer on their fellow scribes. More work in the market might mean more competition, but it also means more variety for readers to choose from. And more books in the market means more readers noticing romance and more readers buying romance, and therefore more readers for everyone. Instead of comparing your work to others or claiming that it’s “better than the other smut out there” or “elevating the genre,” respect that your fellow authors are not only putting in the same effort you are, but are also your best resource for industry knowledge, advice and promotion.

5. Respect diversity:

This feels like it should be the easiest point (and one that shouldn’t need to be stated, in a perfect world), but it is perhaps the hardest one of all. Following social media hashtags such as #weneeddiversebooks and #ownvoices will show you only a small part of the conversation about diversity in fiction and how crucial it is for authors to respect it. Do your research; utilize sensitivity readers when appropriate; ask others for opinions and feedback; avoid cultural misappropriation, clichéd cultural depictions or offensive characterizations; and, if you make a misstep, own your mistake, apologize and strive to do better.

Keeping in mind these five tips will lay the groundwork for a successful romance career. Offering respect to your readers, your brand, the issue of diversity and your fellow authors builds an environment where creativity is rewarded and everyone can achieve their ultimate goal: to build a passionate, devoted base of readers who will loyally buy their books for years to come.

Order Now: How to Make Your Romance Hot Enough for an Agent

Agents are hungry to sell romance to publishing houses. The How To Make Your Romance Hot Enough For An Agent onDemand webinar will teach you:

W8840
  • The specific elements of a romance novel agents look for
  • Common red flags to avoid in your romance novel
  • Places to go to get your work reviewed and critiqued
  • How to make an accurate list of legitimate agents who rep romance novels and how to approach them successfully
  • And more!

Click here to download your copy ASAP.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: The 3 Prime Rules of Horror Writing, Contest Deadlines, and More!

Welcome to the first installment of a new series! There's always so much happening in the Writer's Digest universe that even staff members have trouble keeping up. So we're going to start collecting what's on the horizon to make it easier for everyone to know what's happening and when.

Bell_10:25

Lenora Bell: When Fairy Tales Meet Reality TV

Bestselling historical romance author Lenora Bell discusses researching, avoiding info-dumps while still charming readers, and how her latest book was inspired by her life.

Major_10:24

Three Keys to Crafting Chemistry Between Characters

Romance author Michelle Major explains her three go-to tips for ensuring your characters have believable chemistry.

Saving Money on Your Screenwriting Career

Take Two: Saving Money on Your Screenwriting Career

No one wants to break the bank to learn how to write a screenplay. Jeanne Veillette Bowerman shares practical tips on saving money on the pursuit of a screenwriting career.

richard_adams_watership_down_quotes_a_rabbit_has_two_ears_a_rabbit_has_two_eyes_two_nostrils_they_ought_to_be_together_not_fighting

10 Epic Quotes From Watership Down, by Richard Adams

Here are 10 epic quotes from Watership Down, by Richard Adams. The story of a group of rabbits who escape an impending danger to find a new home, Watership Down is filled with moments of survival, faith, friendship, fear, and hope.

WD Poetic Form Challenge

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Quintilla Winner

Learn the winner and Top 10 list for the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge for the quintilla.

plot_twist_story_prompts_fight_or_flight_robert_lee_brewer

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Fight or Flight

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, it's fighting time.

Garfield

Vintage WD: 10 Rules for Suspense Fiction

John Grisham once admitted that this article from 1973 helped him write his thrillers. In it, author Brian Garfield shares his go-to advice for creating great suspense fiction.

Pennington_10:21

The Chaotically Seductive Path to Persuasive Copy

In this article, author, writing coach, and copywriter David Pennington teaches you the simple secrets of excellent copywriting.