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Self-publishing: A look at the current romance genre

Hi there! Since I write romance it’s important for me to stay up to date on the industry specifically on self-publishing. As I do often, I took a deep dive into the romance category on Amazon, Google Play & Applebooks. What I found is not surprising, it’s something I’ve known for a long time but for some reason it really hit me like a ton of bricks & I want to share some of this information with you.

For context I’ve been writing since 2016. I published my first book in 2017. I quickly realized I did everything wrong so I took it down, wrote a new book & published that one in 2018. That first book is called; Merciless Queen. The entire time I’ve been learning about the self-publishing industry and romance specifically. In 2017/18 the talk was all about rapid-release, writing good stories, getting everything edited, etc. Now, the topic has shifted and the industry has become a lot more about marketing. Why? because that’s what sells books. In 2011-2015 you could put up a decent book with a blog tour and break-even. That is not the case anymore AT ALL.

I realized this so this year my entire goal was to focus more on marketing then writing books. Gasp! This is such a taboo thing to say because in the self-publishing industry the big thing is to spend more time writing. I went to school for marketing and I know that if no one knows about my books no one is going to buy them which defeats the purpose of me spending hours writing them!

Anyways, so that’s what I did. I wrote four really solid books, all standalone so that I could market all of them separately and then I put everything I had behind marketing. And guess what? It worked. I made more money this year then I have in 2018 & 2019 combined.

But, the money is still not at all worth the effort put in. I mean I put EVERYTHING behind these launches, I ran FB ads, hired a PR company, posted religiously on social media, hit my newsletter hard, I played around with Amazon Ads. I went to a conference to learn more, I joined FB groups with other very experienced authors. I did everything you’re supposed to.

I gained so many new readers. I found some of my true fans & I love getting their emails and seeing their reactions to my books. My newsletter subscribers have increased by over 1,000 in 8 months. My FB pages went from like 50 likes to 200 likes. Then I took another look at the market and I realized something. There are two types of romance authors who are successful in the industry right now.

  1. The author who started writing & publishing between the years of 2011-2015ish. The golden years that I previously talked about. This is not to say that these authors didn’t work hard because they did. But there are authors right now who are working just as hard if not harder & spending way more money. Amazon, Google play & Applebooks often pushes these books to readers with no work on the authors part. Meaning they are getting organic traffic. Something that doesn’t exist on Amazon for regular authors.
  2. The ‘one book a month’ author. This author is usually in kindle unlimited and they are releasing books so fast it’s crazy. These are full-length books not novellas. They are usually writing in series as a way to ‘stick’ the reader. This method is still working…if you can write one full-length book a month.

And that’s it. Those are the authors in the romance industry that are doing well. And I don’t mean to say this to discourage anyone. I write because I love to write, but maybe it’s time that romance authors stop killing themselves trying to release faster, spend more on marketing & taking these course from romance authors who have no idea what it’s like to start publishing in the current landscape.

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