One genre that has experienced varying fortunes over the years has been the romance novel. While it is but a small selection of the fiction industry, plenty of books in this genre are still sold. Like any genre, a successful writer has to understand what books have come before and what the conventions of the genre tend to be. While a book breaking these conventions might still be popular, the target audience tends to be people who consume multiple romance books.
Romance is a niche business. Some people might read one book out of curiosity while other people read many books with romance elements, and so taking advantage of existing emotional cues and norms is essential to engage a reader base that likely has strongly set expectations. Understanding convention and then breaking it with knowledge tends to be far more effective than writing a book with no knowledge of what popular books in the same genre are like.
All this is important for publishers who want to snatch a market limited by the fact that fewer people are likely to read a book today than watch a movie. For the reader, it is an important detail because people who do read books are those who want particular things. In today’s age of smartphones and portable computers and high definition television, it is rare for a person to sit down with a book that has no illumination or interactive script.
People might read articles for fast information, but a book is a time commitment, and many people dread considering it. The book itself might only cost ten dollars or so, but reading through it might take several hours at a bare minimum. It might take even longer if the reader takes the time to slowly digest the language or else to fantasize or contemplate what is going on. Thus, people who read books are either looking to escape electronics or enjoy the intellectual participation of reading a book.
A book is different from a movie. Concepts are conveyed visually in movies while everything is about words in a book. People who read books are looking for the author’s language and comprehension of concepts. When a person narrates a story, they describe places rather than show them in pictures, and they also directly state concepts rather than depend on the audience to make a connection using visual cues. What books lack in terms of visual appeal they make up for in language and the transmission of ideas.
The reader of a Romance book is a person who is looking for concepts and the thought of both the male and the female actors. People who want to look at sex scenes have plenty of options on internet video channels. The reader of a romance book is looking to be teased as well as for a more detailed view into the minds and motivations of the lock and the key. Book readers generally tend to be more intellectual, but romance readers want to be enticed with thoughts, seductive words, and the erotic knowledge of the writer.
That is what a good Romance novel should offer. They seldom describe the genitals in sticky detail but either focus on the emotions of the actors or else use innuendos to poetically describe what ought to be a poetic act. People pick up Romance books for a variety of reasons, but seldom for pornography. A romance book engages the desire for intimacy and authentic gratification as opposed to a mediocre experience.
So the reader might be someone who feels unfulfilled in some respect. It might be that they lack a dedicated partner, or the partner that they have might be unloving or unromantic. It might also be that the partner in question is not committed to life and might lack drive and be mediocre in many details. It is not uncommon for readers to look for an escape by reading about how a woman manages to entice and be ravished by a passionate and athletic man.
Romance books appeal to many appetites, and not all of them are about sex. A book might be all about the unlikely events leading up to a relationship and it might be about a love chase. A book almost always does convey a relationship that is much more of an adventure than normal, but a skilled writer can produce a
a book about conventional people who find a way to make their love extraordinary.