The credit it deserves

For a long time, romance was looked down upon by the publishing industry. But with ebooks, romance authors are finding their ways off the backshelves and into the hands of readers. Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, discusses what that change means for romance writers.


Why does romance have a bad reputation?

Romance has always been like the ugly stepchild of the publishing industry. Most people who aren’t familiar with romance think it’s silly. They think the readers are silly. They think the books are silly, and they’ve never given it the credit that it deserves. Even in bookstores it doesn’t get the credit that it deserves. Often the romance section is shoved off into the back, but with ebooks and the rise of democratized publishing, and democratized distribution, romance has come to the forefront.

I’ve had the privilege to meet hundreds of romance authors, and I’m just blown away by the intelligence of these women, and it is most women. You see a few men, but it’s mostly women, and they’re professional women. They’re women with advanced degrees, PhDs, scientists, accountants, lawyers, smart women writing these incredible books that connect with readers in a way that no other genre has ever figured out how to connect with a reader, so it’s just amazingly powerful and inspirational to me.

Romance explores the dynamics of relationships. We are all human beings. We are all social beings, and in our lives nothing is more important than our relationships with other people, so I think that’s the power.

I think a lot of credit goes to “Fifty Shades,” because people, you know, gave that genre a chance. It opened their eyes to the power of romance, and now they’re discovering other authors. So I think romance has an incredibly bright future. I don’t think romance is done pioneering in this field. It’s just a really exciting time to be involved.

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