Romance novels account for 26.4 percent of all book sales.
By AMANDA GARRETT
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
CHAMPION -- Lori Wilde grew up dreaming of becoming a writer.
Wilde wrote her first novel at age 12, but she didn't find success until 1994, when her first romance novel under the pseudonym Laura Anthony, "Raleigh and the Rancher," was published by Silhouette Romance.
Wilde has since published 39 books and become one of the most successful writers in the romance genre.
Now, potential romance novelists in the Mahoning Valley are just a mouse click away from starting their own careers thanks to a new class at Kent State University Trumbull Campus.
KSU Trumbull's continuing studies program is offering a six-week online class, "Romance Writing Secrets," taught by Wilde from her home in Texas.
Wilde teaches students how to structure a romance novel, how to get a novel published, and gives tips on students' writing samples.
One of the secrets to a good romance novel is creating memorable characters, who change for the better during the course of the story, Wilde said.
"Romance readers like their female heroines with a strong personality, but not too strong," she said. "But they really love their flawed men."
Large share of market
Romance novels continue to make up a large chunk of the book industry's 1 billion per year in sales, said Nicole Kennedy, public relations manager for the Romance Writers of America, a novelists' association based in Spring, Texas.
"Romance readers are loyal, diverse and prolific," she said. "They read a lot of books and once they find an author they like they'll read all their books."
Romance novels account for 26.4 percent of the book industry's total sales, while science fiction/fantasy accounts for 7.5 percent of sales, and mysteries account for 6.1 percent, according to statistics compiled by the Romance Writers of America.
Recent trends in romance novels, such as paranormal or supernatural romance and Christian romance, have also increased the market, Kennedy said.
"There's been a lot of cross-over between genres," she said. "Readers who enjoy suspense or mystery novels can find those elements in romance novels."
Modern romance writers need to adapt to the changing times and keep their work current, Wilde said.
"Some people want to still write novels in the old style, but today's readers won't accept that," she said. "The world is changing and romance writers need to change with it."
Taking the class
"Romance Writing Secrets," like all of KSU Trumbull's online courses, can be taken at any time of day at any computer, said Marie Dabelko, coordinator for continuing studies.
The next Romance Writing Secrets course begins April 18. Anyone wanting to register for the 89 class should go to www.ed2go.com/ksutc to sign up.