December 3, 2005

Inspirational Romance - Growing Readership Per Publishers' Weekly

Robin Lee Hatcher provides the following information about writing inspirational romance (read that to be Christian romance):

"According to Publishers Weekly (11/21/05), Romance novels have a 39.3% market share, General Fiction 12.9%, Mystery/Thriller 29.6%, Science Fiction 6.4%, and Other Fiction 11.8%. (In paperback mass market, romance has about a 55% share of the market.)

"CBA/Christian fiction falls, I believe, into that "Other Fiction" category.According to SIMBA Information (a Bowker company that is "widely recognized as the leading authority for market intelligence and forecasts in the media industry"), the Romance category was estimated at $1.7 billion in sales in 2004. IPSOS (another marketing research firm) reports that Inspirational Romance had $54.5 million in sales in 2004. While it represents only 3.2% of the total market, Inspirational Romance has grown 26% in the last five years compared to only 5.3% for the whole Romance category."

Robin Hatcher should know. She's an accomplished writer of over 56 books in both the Christian and secular arenas. As Robin explains,

"I cut my writing teeth in the historical romance market, publishing 27 general market historicals and three contemporary "category" romances before I followed my heart to write novels with Christian faith as an integral part of the story. As of this date, I've had 17 CBA releases with two more to follow in early 2006. Of those 19 CBA books, twelve would be categorized as romances (historical and contemporary). The other seven, more issues-related women's fiction, still have dashes of romance in them."

What is inspirational romance? A librarian at the Durham County library made a reading list of 24 novels she felt exemplified this sub-genre in November 2000. However, recent guidelines provided by publishers Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing are more informative.

Accordingly, I've posted their inspiration lines below, with the publishers' descriptions of the various lines and jumps to the guidelines.

Steeple Hill Cafe - "This new sub-brand within the Steeple Hill Women's Fiction program will be dedicated to publishing inspirational fiction for the hip, modern woman of faith. This distinctively smart and spirited new line of books will depict the unique and varied situations women encounter as they learn important lessons about life, love and the power of faith. "

Steeple Hill Love Inspired - "The Love Inspired line is a series of contemporary, inspirational romances that feature Christian characters facing the many challenges of life and love in today's world. Each story should have an emotional, satisfying and mature romance; however, the characters should not make love unless they are married. These are "sweet" romances. Any physical interactions (i.e. kissing, hugging) should emphasize emotional tenderness rather than sexual desire."

Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense - " This new sub-brand within the Love Inspired line is a series of edge-of-the-seat, contemporary romantic suspense tales of intrigue and romance featuring Christian characters facing challenges to their faith…and to their lives.
Each story should have a compelling mystery or a suspenseful situation threatening the hero and the heroine combined with an emotional, satisfying and mature romance; however, the characters should not make love unless they are married."

Steeple Hill Women's Fiction - "This new Steeple Hill program will be dedicated to publishing inspirational Christian women's fiction that depicts the struggles the characters encounter as they learn important lessons about trust and the power of faith. We are looking for compelling and thoughtfully developed stories that promote strong family values and high moral standards. These complex stories are character driven. They should provide readers with an uplifting and satisfying ending, and they can be written in the first- or third-person narrative and can be single or multiple point of view."

Heartsongs Presents -- "The main element of a Heartsongs Presents inspirational romance is the sweet love story. A very close second is the inspirational theme and content. All manuscripts in the Heartsongs Presents inspirational line should present a conservative, evangelical Christian worldview. "
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