Romance novels not only bring decent income, they provide excellent training for more serious writing.Don't bother to click through -- there's nothing much besides ads on the page. I'm merely providing the link so you'll know I am not making this up. Can you believe someone actually packed that much stupidity into a 15-word sentence?
If my romance-writing friends are finished gnashing their teeth and rolling their eyes, let's continue.
I'm a member of Romance Writers of America and I'm on hugging terms with roughly a hundred published romance writers. Yes, many of them are names you would know. But very, very few of those people are what you might call wealthy. In fact, most of the published romance novelists I know have other sources of income. "Real" jobs that provide them with a regular paycheck, health care benefits, and a retirement plan. (Although a few savvy writers, like me, have spouses who provide those things.) These women (and even a few men) are writing romance because they love writing romance. Yes, they're hoping to get rich doing it, but anyone who's played this game for a while knows just how heavily the odds are weighted against us.
Which brings us to the second part of that clueless quote, the suggestion that writing romance novels will not only pay off that Lamborghini in your driveway, but will also provide you with "excellent training for more serious writing."
Trust me, this drivel was not written by a published romance novelist. I know that because published romance novelists are, by definition, not stupid people. Unless, of course, you consider it stupid that we spend hour after solitary hour for months on end writing stories that are not going to snag us a $50,000 advance even if and when we do manage to talk our editors into taking a leap of faith and publishing them.
Harlequin Enterprises has told its authors that each of them is "one in a thousand", meaning that something on the order of one manuscript out of every thousand submitted to Harlequin/Silhouette/Steeple Hill is ultimately accepted for publication. You may or may not consider romance novels to be Great Art; that's something we could have some interesting discussions about. But please don't tell me or any published or aspiring romance author that this business is easy to break into, a great way to earn a quick buck while you hone your writing skills and position yourself to do some "serious" writing.
Romance writers are deadly serious about their writing. They sweat and bleed, swear and plead as they birth page after page after page and then somehow (this part's magic -- I can't explain it if you haven't experienced it for yourself) manage to pull it all together and produce a deeply moving love story. So the suggestion that anyone who has a modicum of writing talent and no respect for the genre could effortlessly imitate the work my sister authors are producing is not just breathtakingly ludicrous, it's downright insulting.
Update to this post, March 2, 2005.