Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Historical Romance Market

Just thought I'd chime in about what is hot right now in the historical romance market. In a word: Regencies. Hate to ask, but am I the only one who's tired of these? Hasn't this huge wave of demand begun to peter out yet?

Don't get me wrong--I love Jane Austen's books and that period in history, but I feel like this era has been done to death lately in the romance market. While I understand there will always be demand for stories about Lords and Ladies and the London ton, I want to see more westerns and other historical periods represented. Something from Russia and France maybe. Colonial America. Australia.

Okay, what I'd really love to see is a rebirth of interest in the American Civil War, since that's my passion. Oh, yeah--and because I have a Civil War manuscript I'm trying to sell :). Ah, for the good old days when that was the "in thing" and Heather Graham was writing that awesome trilogy about the war between the states.

Looking at articles on advice about the writing market can be confusing. One agent/editor tells you to research what's currently popular and write that, while another reminds you what's being published today was contracted a year or two ago, and might not be what a publisher wants today. Well, one thing I've learned about this crazy writing industry is that you can't predict the market, and you sure can't chase after it. What's hot today might be treated like a literary leper tomorrow. I think interest in regencies will bottom out at some point, as will the current fascination with vampires and werewolves in paranormal romance. Demand might always be there for those novels, but they can't sustain the level of interest they're enjoying today until the end of time, can they? If you're JR Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon or Laurel K. Hamilton, then maybe. For the rest of us...not so much.

So what's an historical romance writer to do if they don't write about the regency period? It's a daunting thought. Even if I researched the era to the nines and then managed to pen a 90K plus word novel, I'd still have to pedal it throughout New York. Maybe it's because I'm half Irish, but by then I bet the market would be on to something else. The next "big thing", whatever that may be. This is a fickle business, as any author out there will tell you.

What to do? Plain and simple, I believe you have to write what you love. If you love it, even if it's not in the current "trend", readers will be able to tell., and so will agents and editors. That love and excitement a writer feels for their story and its characters translates itself onto the pages of your manuscript. Churn out something you don't love just to appease tastes in the publishing world, and it will show. I'm willing to bet it won't be your best work. It might not even be good work. Some authors out there might be able to write a book to suit the market even if they don't love the concept, and then come to have a nice warm and fuzzy feeling about it once it's finished, but I definitely do not fit in that category.

In the end, writers like me must write what they love in order for that story to come alive, and the characters with it. So for all those authors out there waiting to catch the next wave in the publishing world, hang in there. Your story might be the next breaker forming on the horizon.


Wendi Zwaduk said...

Very smart! i have an erotic ancient Greek historical floating aroudn in my head right now that's dying to come out. I know that's not the in thing right now and it probably won't be, but it is original (at the moment) and it's something I love, so I'm going for it!

Thanks for the support.