FF & P Markets in Romance



Jane Harrison

These remarks about the FF & P markets have been really interesting to me. As far as romance goes, and the very reason I joined RWA again, the FF & P chapter, and the Realm was to support FF & P romance. I hope that we all remember that we MUST support it. I believe the readers are there.

I just read The Rival by Brenda Joyce, which included two ghosts, two characters including the heroine, with second-sight. The heroine was a married woman, etc. Not the normal romance at all.

Patricia Wrede's The Magician's Ward is definitely a Regency romance with lots of fantasy elements. It has an audience in both markets. Lots of fantasy does.

Recently, I started rereading The BrideFinder by Susan Carroll, and this is really a fantasy with STRONG romance elements, a real cross-over, and yes, it's hardcover. Another author who is being absorbed into the mainstream.

I also finished Meagan McKinney's Gentle From the Night, which had a very real and very evil ghost. (I thought this was the best romance I had read in years, actually). It was a scary, mysterious, atmospheric book...and a wonder. McKinney should be proud that she wrote it. I can't believe they even let her. They being the wise-ones who are known as editors.

I have read the Bridefinder and also The Passion by Donna Boyd, both of which were cross-genre romances. What I am seeing is that the top writers and the bigger FF & P books are being absorbed into just hardcover fiction. Has anyone noticed this for some of the big name romance writers, too? And also, some of the best SF/F is being absorbed like this.

The point here is that there will always be some lines that will cater to cross-genre stories. But, they are not the norm in this market ...and looked on as step-children so to speak. And these lines are promoted as lines, not the authors. If one does better than another, then well, off they go!

But are labels really the answer? Why should we be labeled only to be doomed with distributors? Why should we be reduced to lines where the line is more important than the author or book? The problem in the romance market is that we have labeled ourselves to death, and formularized every sub-genre. Well, the editors and marketing have, and if a line doesn't fly...they dump it. It's getting where only the lead writers have a choice in what they write.

On a sadder note, one of the hardest things to sell in the cross-genre market is SF romance. SF readers are mainly male. I know, we all hate to hear this. And they don't want any romance in their stories. If any of you have a chance, go over and join one of the fantasy or SF list and you'll see what these people want to read. They don't want sex or heavy romance in a book. They just don't. So, SF romances are going to be the hardest to sell always.

But...I believe if you write a big enough story, and write a very good story, you have a chance of just being out there by yourself and not in one of the lines (Heartspell, Magic Love, whatever, there are about a dozen of them out there). Usually the big name writers get to do this, and I might add not all of them do it very well, because it is not really their kind of material. The book is what it is and stands on its own.

Another point is, used to, you got in where you could, and worked your way to the top with writing. I don't believe that is true today in the current market climate. I think you have to write the best story, the biggest story, and the freshest story you can, and then pray you get lucky.


Note from Publisher: I'm always on the lookout for interesting commentary on the internet. I found Ms. Harrison's observations about FF & P markets for writers on the Romance Foretold email list.

Be sure to read Jane's reviews of The Rival by Brenda Joyce and Gentle from the Night by Meagan McKinney in Romantic Realms.


Author Bio

Jane Harrison has been a member of RWA off and on since almost the beginning, but mostly since 1990. She took a couple of years off and did little writing as she went back to college and found myself interested in the straight fantasy genre.

She is a member of RWA, the FFP group, about to join Kiss of Death, editor of the Gothic Shire's Ezine in Romance Foretold, Assistant Editor of Romantic Realms in Romance Foretold, and almost, just almost able to join SFWA, which has been her goal, to sell enough short fiction so she could join. (They are ticky-wicky about those rates aren't they?)

Jane is working on a historical fantasy and several romances. Most of the romances are weird! Her last published romance was Dark Dreams, a vampire/fallen angel story. She loves fantasy and retold fairy tales, etc. especially Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's fine anthologies of retold fairy tales.

Besides writing, she studies Victorian Literature and History and is writing a book on Victorian Tombstone Art. Actually, this is a major project. But hanging out in cemeteries is not something she mentions to everyone!

Visit Jane's intriguing web sites:

The Cauldron. Moon Lore, Witches, Romance and SFF Writing, Myth, Folklore, and Fairy Tales.

Melancholia. Angel Lore, Vampires, Medieval Studies, French Translation.

The Drunken Boat. Personal Homepage, Writing, Victorian Studies.


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"FF & P Markets in Romance" copyright 1998 by Jane Harrison. Published by permission of the author.
This page last updated 10-9-98.
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