And the reason is clear. Writing romance (and I will include women's fiction in this category too) is harder than hell to write. All of you authors out there that write in this genre, and especially those of you who have made the leap to published author need to stop keeping your genre a secret and really show people that this is a genre to be dealt with.
First of all, the romance genre has been around for a lot longer than many of the other genres. Even the early epic poems utilized strong elements of romance to keep the hero going through his "amazing battles of strength and manliness." Even as we scan through the classics of literature, those things that literature scholars refer to as The Canon of literature, we can see that time and time again, it is a romance that makes that list. Consider a few of the authors (this comes from the Gutenberg Project by the way):
- Bronte, Bronte, Bronte (obviously all three)
- ... O.K. I am just on the C's but you get the idea.
Next, and this is the one of the hardest elements, the author has a limited amount of space to bring together two characters that, in most cases, prior to page one, had never met. The ultimate goal is, at the end of 55,000-120,000 words, these two have reached a happily ever after. Now plot wise, this can be pretty easy to map out. The difficulty, however, is to not force the issue and make this seem natural. Romance authors are tapping into Mark Knapps, 10 stages of interpersonal theory here! Heck, making a relationship work in real life is tough, but to do it in a short span like this becomes a huge challenge.
Now we add in the sub-genres of romance. These authors are now attempting to do all of the standard romance elements, in that short span of time, while also incorporating those traits of the other genres. Consider now the authors in: romantic suspense, paranormal, fantasy, science fiction and historical. No longer are these people just focused on building a romance, but the other plots have to be significant, and yet, not take the lead role in the romance. Remember, the main story arc is the romance and the secondary arc is the other genre.
Let's look at the numbers now. These come directly from the Romance Writers of America:
Let's not forget that these numbers are (in many cases) not coming from hard-cover sales with rocking prices of $25.00+ a book. These stem from the number of books sold.