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Ready to Turn Your Love of Romance into a Novel?

Updated on March 19, 2013
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Dr. Middlebrook is a fiction/non-fiction writing coach, author (pen name Beax Rivers), virtual trainer, and former university professor.

Longing to Tell a Romantic Story of Love?

Are you someone for whom the classic “boy-meets-girl-boy-loses-girl-boy-gets-girl-back-again” love story always leaves you feeling:

  1. Satisfied?
  2. Excited?
  3. Wanting more?

Are you constantly rewriting the endings of romance novels where the hero and leading lady don’t end up together? Do you pine for hours pondering what “might have been?” After having your soul-stirred, and not shaken, by a riveting tale of romance, do you always feel splendidly lightheaded while thinking the amazing work—of a creator of glamorous words weaved into a passion-massaging potion—should definitely be immortalized on film?

Are you drawn to movies where you know the male and female leads will ultimately end up together as a perfect or imperfect couple in love, where all you have to do is to try and figure out what series of mishaps, mazes, accidents, phases, situations, chances, storms, or circumstances will bring them together again for good? When you hear the words “rock star,” do you immediately think names such as Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel, Victoria Holt, and Rita Brown? And when someone mentions the word “bible” do you have to remind yourself they’re not talking about “Gone With The Wind?”

If you’re a voracious reader of romance novels and your response was positive for all of the questions above, then you, my dear friend, are hooked on romance. And chances are you already know what you must do. You must at least try to write a romance novel.

Let’s face it. Romance itself is as old as the process that brought you and me into being. And since it usually precedes God’s biological manufacturing miracle that creates all humans, I’d say there’s a very good chance it will be around for as long as humans are around—being. So, since we’ve established that you’re already in love with love, then let’s talk about why you should take the plunge. Why shouldn’t you go ahead and see if you can lovingly piece together and then self-publish a delicious and decadently beautiful story about love?

Me, reading my first novel in my Tales from the Quarters Collection, Silver: Currents of Change.
Me, reading my first novel in my Tales from the Quarters Collection, Silver: Currents of Change. | Source

Just so you know for sure, you shouldn’t be ashamed to admit you’re a lover of love stories. The sobering (and salable) truth about romance writing is that it long ago conquered more than half of the paperback book market, and it’s quickly gaining momentum in e-book sales. More than seventy-percent of women under the age of 40 read romance novels, and, according to the Romance Writers of America organization (Statistics from PubTrack Consumer, Q2 2011, New Books Purchased):

  • Ninety-one percent of romance book buyers are women, and nine-percent are men!
  • U.S. romance book buyers are most likely to be between the ages of 30 and 54.
  • The South is highly represented among buyers of Romance books (which is great news for my “Tales from the Quarters” collection of books, most of which are set, firmly, in the South).
  • Money is no object for Romance readers. The weighted-mean annual income of print-book romance buyer is $58,000, and, for purchasers of Romance e-books, is $70,000.

Don’t ever feel daunted by the naysayers who keep insisting that people don’t read anymore. Know what I say to that rubbish? Rubbish! Hogwash! And balderdash! According to a recent report published by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the Book Industry Study Group, when it comes to the written word, the publishing industry is enjoying a “resurgence across all markets —trade, academic, [and] professional.” In fact, data collected by these groups shows the printed word is not only “alive and well,” it is being greedily gobbled up across all categories of books at growing rates, in paper and digital formats.

What do these statistics mean to you? Well if you’re planning on penning that romance novel that you and I both know is begging to be written by you, then these stats might be your best friends. That is, if you have plans to sell your book after writing it. So go ahead, let this Hub be your wake-up call for your calling. If you dream of writing a romance novel, or if not something purely of the romance genre, perhaps romantic fiction, well maybe this time, it’s your time. And the good news is, if it’s really your calling, calling, then it won’t matter if you ever sell even one copy of your book (even though I hope you sell millions!), because the real reason you have to write romance is because it’s part of your purpose—your mission in life.

And that’s why self-publishing might be for you. Not only will it allow you to get your book published promptly in print and digital format, it will give you opportunities to show your work, to put your unquenchable passion in print, to create worlds and characters that you will undoubtedly love or hate until the end of time, and, because you went for it with all your gusto, your love of romance will be a piece of you that will live forever.

Case Study—My Own

Several years ago when I found myself unemployed, looking for work, but wanting more from life than a job, as always, I was in love with books and reading. A lifelong hopeless romantic, I began concocting my Tales from the Quarters collection of novels. I was tired of what I thought of as “limited opportunities and possibilities” of the characters I saw as the norm for popular books and movies featuring African American women and men. Always beat up or abused? Always broke with no hope? Too often in the desert, so to speak, praying for rain. I've been black all my life, and even though I've gone through tough times, like now, even the tough times have some redeeming qualities. Love of family, bonds of lifelong friendships, a belief in a good and benevolent God that keeps hope alive, and the joy of being alive, having another day to live and to love life and the people in it.

So I decided to write a novel. No, I decided to write several novels, starting with one. As my alter ego, Beax Rivers, I decided it would become at least part of my mission in life to blatantly, boldly, and beautifully present African Americans, especially those of the Southern variety, in more complex and challenging settings, more “limitless” situations and circumstances. I would write romantic stories that could come from and go anywhere, unbound by society or economics. Stories that, while presenting infinitely interesting characters and plots, also elevated the people and the possibilities of life for those in and from America’s black communities and neighborhoods. And, I wanted to celebrate, romantically, all of the beautiful and unforgettable skin colors of people in my race, in my family, in my past, and on my mind.

For me it was an undeniable fact: African Americans are beautifully colored, in every way: Skin, character, life experiences, and soul. And so I had a Vision, and a Mission, and I decided that neither was impossible. A lover of black history, I knew that historically, in the South, towns were once (and still are in many places) sharply divided by race, and that where black people lived within the city limits was called “the colored folks quarters.” Hence, was born my “Tales from the Quarters” collection. I self-published Book One of “Tales” in December of 2011 (Silver: Currents of Change), and I’m working now on finishing Book Two (Gold: The Heat of Refinement).

I allowed my passion for something to lead me toward writing romantic fiction in a way I feel is unique and unexpected. And while I know it’s true that “there’s nothing new under the sun,” I believe it is possible to put things together in a unique way, following your unique passion and your unique vision, to romantically weave something that feels new.

I'm still following my passion, creating stories of love. Not many people have noticed yet, but I know in my heart that I'm doing something important. Not only do I believe I will get the sales I need to become a successful, full-time writer of novels, I also believe my books, at least some of them, will one day be made into motion pictures. And while that will be a dream come true, that's not why I'm writing. I'm writing because I know I'm creating something that is needed, and something that will create a lasting legacy for me and for my family. I'm in love with love and romance, and my collection of love stories proves it, beautifully. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, in ways that are meaningful. In ways that are good, and that make a difference.

© 2012 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD

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