Right now is a fantastic time to be a reader—particularly a romance reader. There are a million different types of romance to try, from romantic suspense that will give you the jibblies, to historicals that will make you sigh and smile, to contemporaries that will give you an abdominal workout laughing.
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I don't know how familiar you are with every aspect of the romance genre, but Romance Writers of America list nine different subgenres on their site. There are also erotic romances, science-fiction and fantasy romances—and so many other variations.
Romance review site DearAuthor tracks new releases for each publisher and counts at least 300 new romances every month from traditional and digital publishers. That's more than 3,500 books each year. There is simply so much to read, especially if you're a romance reader like me and enjoy more than two or three different subgenres.
That's not all either. Not only are there new books from traditional and digital publishers, but there are self-published authors releasing new romances daily. Courtney Milan's Unlocked (Milan, 2010) is one example—her historical romance novella (which I called a grovel-vella because the hero has a lot to make up for in the course of the story) did so well, she hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. Author Bella Andre was famously profiled in the Washington Post because of her success self-publishing contemporary romances. I have to say, I love the cover designs she uses for her books because they show such realistic and normal-looking people.
Romance readers are more and more aware of self-published romance authors, too. When I recently asked on Twitter which name came to mind first when I said "self-published romance author," Andre and Milan were both among the immediate responses, along with Shiloh Walker, Kait Nolan, Cynthia Eden, Angie Fox, Jana DeLeon and Liliana Hart. Readers are increasingly aware of self-published romance, and many of mine have recommended new self-published titles to me for review. It is possible for readers to be personally invested in the success of a self-published author whose work they enjoy.
So there are new books from self-published authors, and new books published by digital and print houses. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE. MORE TO READ!
As the digital marketplace becomes more accessible, and as authors share their experiences with self-publishing, more writers are republishing books that have been out of print for years. Many older romances are coming back in digital format. A reader of my site, Terri, contacted me about Nicole Jordan's backlist of books that are now available as e-books. Terri was excited because some of these books are longtime favorites, and now she has digital copies to augment her paper collection. Plus, she can also buy copies for friends.
So if you're a romance reader, there is no shortage of books to read. Sometimes it might seem like too much, what with the new books and the re-released books all clamoring for attention. "New" has taken on a different meaning really—there are newly released previously unpublished books, and newly released digital books that might be 15 or 20 years old. There's no "certified pre-owned" as there is in the auto sales world, but there are books that are long-ago favorites finding a new audience among voracious romance readers.
The only trouble? Making sure you find things you like. It's a good thing that alongside Kirkus, there's also a few hundred romance review communities, too, all discussing what's new to us and what we love most—from back then and right now.
Sarah Wendell is the co-creator, editor and mastermind of the popular romance blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.