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. That’s because I’m a romantic at heart.
I tell you all this because I’m going to throw some numbers your way.
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.
The numbers speak for themselves. Christian fiction, and specifically Christian romance, is being embraced by readers, and I think that’s grand.
P.S. These days I try to steer readers away from my old mass market romances. I’ve learned a lot as a writer over the years, so my writing is stronger today than it was in those early years. I have also worked with some of the best editors in the business since coming to the CBA; learning from them has improved my novels immensely. And, of course, my worldview has changed since I began my career. I have something much different to write about today than I did in the ’80’s and early ’90’s. You can visit my web site’s book page for a complete list of my Christian fiction.