11 July 2007

RWA and setting trends

I’m writing this on the way to Dallas and the Romance Writers of America National Conference. There are three reasons I’m going. One; find out the state of the historical market. Two; meet with my new Silhouette editor. Three: Two of my close friends are nominated for the RITA award, romance writing’s highest honor, and I plan to cheer them on.

I plan to report on my own blog what I hear as far as buzz goes for historicals and other markets. Tomorrow is the PAN session featuring book buyers from Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, Levy (distributor) and Borders.
National conferences are where you hear about trends and what’s hot. Sometimes it seems as if the market is like a soccer game. There’s a ball and everyone is chasing after it. Wait! There’s a bestselling a sexy Regency vampire werewolf Navy Seal and who solves murder mysteries while time traveling back to ancient Scotland.

Next thing you know, everyone is writing the same, hoping to hone in on what’s hot.
There’s been various buzz about the historical market. There’s always talk. The market is flat. The market is not flat. As I write this, I’m thinking of Kathleen Woodiwiss, who died of cancer last week. What an amazing talent she was, and what a sad, sad loss. The Flame & the Flower was a groundbreaking book for historicals, and my first real romance. I remember finding it in my mom’s stash. I was 12, I think. It was pretty shocking. I asked my mom, “Mom, what’s a manhood?”

That must have been when she snatched the book back and muttered, “Something you don’t need to know about until you’re much, much older.”
Publication of The Flame & the Flower revitalized the historical market. Suddenly the big, thick romances were hip and selling fast. Despite what happens with the market, I believe there is always room for the rule-breaker, just as Kathleen Woodiwiss was. I think of the writers on this blog as the same. We write in various time settings, not because it’s popular but because we feel compelled to follow our hearts just as Ms. Woodiwiss did. We write because we cannot write. And that is the hallmark of a writer. It becomes as necessary as breathing.
Ms. Woodiwiss, thank you for all you’ve given readers of romance over the years. And thank you for daring to take the road less traveled, and setting the path before us.


Michelle Styles said...

I shall be interested to hear what the general gossip is.

I see that the new Rita/GH catagories are up. Two historicals -- Regency Historical and Historical.

They are keeping the novella as well.

carrie_lofty said...

What I heard (take with a conference-sized grain of salt):

Rose Hilliard of St. Martin's said she'd love to sign a new historical author, that she loves reading them (this was an off-the-record comment to another editor, before a session).

Avon is not signing any unagented Regency writers.

Sourcebooks is eager for authors for their new romance line. However, they have purchased Georgette Heyer's entire back catalog and plan to publish two of her reprints every season. They may not be as willing to take chances on new historical writers -- already have that base covered. They rejected my full of SERENADE specifically because it was set in Salzburg and they don't want to take too many chances just starting out.

Harlequin may be starting an American line of historicals -- not set in the US, but helmed by HQ instead of M&B with an American editorial staff -- and there was talk of a Blaze line of historicals.

And a non-Regency won the short RITA: Betina Krahn's The Book of True Desires.