What is Romance?
Most novels feature some sort of romantic relationship, but romance novels are those that focus on the developing relationship. Aside from that, a definition is difficult, as romances cover such a vast range. Despite the diversity of the genre, there are a few basic elements that are common to all romance novels:
What are the sub-genres of Romance?
Based on setting, plot elements, time period and the heat level (varying from sweetly romantic to hot and heavy), romance novels are divided into sub-genres. This list is by no means exhaustive and new lines are often added.
Formats for Romance Novels
Single Title Also known as mainstream fiction. These are longer romantic novels that are released as individual titles, not as part of a series.
Why does Romance have such a bad rap?
Romance novels account for more sales than any other genre. They cover a vast range of topics, settings and sub-genres, and appeal to widely different audiences. And yet there are a great many misconceptions regarding romance novels and the people who read (and write) them.
For a great article that debunks some of the myths and urban legends surrounding romance fiction, take a look at http://www.romanceaustralia.com/mythsofromance.html
The next time you're at a dinner party and someone puts down the romance genre, quote them these facts and figures, courtesy of Romance Writers of America:
For further information on the RomStat Report by Romance Writers of America, go to http://www.rwanational.org/cs/the_romance_genre/romance_literature_statistics.
Writing Romance in South Africa
While South Africa has a substantial number of romance writers, the majority are published in Afrikaans and are therefore only sold in South Africa. Over the years there have been a few South Africans who have published romance novels through international publishers (just don't ask us for names and details!) but not yet in sufficient numbers to make an impact on the global market.
There is certainly no shortage of talent or interest in writing romance, so perhaps what is needed is further development and motivation. We hope that this website will provide a little of that. We want to see South Africans writing romances, submitting them internationally and being published internationally. Once that happens, we will see more novels set in South Africa - and why not, tourists already think we're an exciting destination, so why not readers too?
Romance Writers of Australia (RWA) was founded in 1991 with only 8 members. Today, a substantial number of Australian writers are making a living writing romance. They are published in 120 countries and in 26 languages. Australian settings are now standard in romance novels, particularly in category romance.
Harlequin Mills & Boon, the world's largest publisher of romance, has recently shown an interest in expanding into new markets. There has been a great deal of international coverage of their expansion into the Indian market, and here in South Africa they recently ran a short story contest, called Voice of Africa, in conjunction with Essentials magazine. They're interested, so let's make the most of it.
Let's put South Africa on the map, both as a setting for international romance novels and also as the home territory for a new generation of writers.
A few interesting links: