Thursday, April 03, 2008

Is Romantic Comedy the Next Big Thing? by Diana Holquist

Everyone's always wondering what's the next big thing in romance novels. Well, good thing I have a crystal ball...

Okay. I don't have a crystal ball. But what I do have is a list of the Romance Writers of America Rita finalists, and there are some interesting trends. In case you don't know, the Rita awards are like the Romance world's Oscars. Or Emmy's. Or National Slavic Book of the Year Awards. (Hey, to Russian historians, the NSBY awards are huge!) So what's interesting as perhaps a trend on the list?

Of the Paranormal Romance Finalists, one quarter are funny paranormals. (Some people might argue that some of the others on the list are pretty hilarious, too, but we're not here to be nasty. Have a drink with me at National and then we'll get nasty...) That's kinda huge after the surge of angsty, dark paranormals.

Of the Single Title Contemporary finalists, almost all are romantic comedies. (Including mine, of course...). Not only that, but they're marketed as romantic comedies, which is pretty amazing in itself after the downfall of the "cartoon" cover and the need to make a book look really sexy to sell. This cover for Kristan Higgin's book is pretty typical of the lot. Only one cover in Single Title Contemporary has a "clinch" (n.b.: thanks, Elizabeth!--see comments below) cover. Discussion question: do you think this is why no one has ever heard of most of these books? Because no one is buying them because they don't look sexy enough?

Then there's the WTF finalists.

Okay, sorry. This book didn't final. It's not even a romance. But I just really, really wanted to post it. Plus it did win the Publisher's Weekly, "Why Read the Book When the Title Says It All?" contest.

So, what do you think the trends are? And what do you WISH the trends were?

Happy Spring, everyone!


Angie Fox said...

I noticed that too about the RITA finalists. Hopefully, humorous romances are on the rise. I know I sure enjoy them.

Plus, with the news headlines so bleak, I wonder if people aren't looking for something to help them smile at the end of a long day.

Diana Holquist said...

Hi Angie.

Yeah, I think it's true that when times are hard, people want pure escape. I know I do.


Elizabeth Hoyt said...

CLINCH! It's a CLINCH cover, not a clutch cover! (At least I think so--clutch makes me think of eggs...)

Man, I hope rom com is coming back, 'cause that's one of the sub-genres I like to read...

Diana Holquist said...

Whatever could you be talking about, Elizabeth? (Thank god for the edit function in blogger....)

Clinch, clutch, face-munch, whatever. Words. Sheesh. It's not like I'm a writer or anything...

--Diana (whose next cover for Hungry for More [note the "hungry"] is most definitely neither clinch nor clutch but a face-munch cover--check it out at

Kate Diamond said...

This makes me think of a Jennifer Crusie article about a specifically female brand of humor that we often see in romance novels (the humor creates bonds of sympathy, as opposed to singling someone out for ridicule).

I ALWAYS enjoy a truly funny read. Glad to see that these books are getting the recognition they deserve!