In case you hadn’t heard, this month, I’m focusing on MARRIED LOVE.
So. Let’s talk about ROMANCE NOVELS. Not so much the bodice-rippers – at least you can judge a book by its cover with those. No, I’m talking about Christian Romance novels. Inspirational Romance novels.
In his recent ACFW conference workshop Fiction By The Numbers, Mark W. Kuyper, President and CEO or ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) paints this picture about Christian Fiction readers (NOT just romance – all Christian fiction genres):
The Average Christian Fiction Buyer:
- Gender: Female=81 percent; Male=19 percent
- Age: Over 50=50 percent; Gen X=20 percent; Gen Y=20 percent
- Annual income: $75,000 or less=70 percent; $25,000 or less=18 percent
- Geography: South=40 percent; Midwest=25 percent; Northeast=15 percent
- Children: Adults 18+=33 percent have children at home; 67 percent do not
- Type of living environment: Rural=41 percent; Suburban=38 percent; Urban=21 percent
- Social media usage: Facebook=78 percent; Twitter=13 percent; LinkedIn=11 percent; No social media=19 percent
Compare this, in a round-about way to the statistics posted on RWA (Romance Writers of America), primarily the first four categories.
The Average Romance Fiction Buyer:
(This is ALL romantic fiction, including Christian Romance)
- Gender: Women make up 91 percent of romance book buyers, and men make up 9 percent.
- Age: The U.S. romance book buyer is most likely to be aged between 30 and 54 years.
- Annual income: The greatest percentage of romance book buyers (39 percent) have an income between $50,000 and $99,900.
- Geography: Romance book buyers are highly represented in the South.
- Relationships: According to RWA’s 2011 Romance Book Consumer survey, slightly more than half of survey respondents live with a spouse or significant other.
- Readership: Forty-four percent of romance book buyers consider themselves “frequent readers” (read quite a few romances); 31 percent are “avid readers” (almost always reading a romance novel); and 25 percent are “occasional readers” (on and off, like when on vacation).
- Genre loyalty: Readers have been reading romance for a long time: 41 percent of romance book buyers have been reading romance for 20 years or more.
When I read statistics like this, I can’t help but analyze. Seriously. I can’t help it. I know it’s not an exact level-playing-field comparison, but the similarities are remarkable.
- Across the board, women make up the majority of fiction readers, both in Christian Fiction, AND in Romantic Fiction.
- The largest age group of readers in both categories is between 35 and 65 years old.
- And average incomes are fairly consistent, too, ranging between $50,000 – $70,000 annually for both sets of readers.
- Interesting tidbit – geographically speaking, more folks in the south read both Christian Fiction AND Romantic Fiction.
The other statistics are interesting, too, but the one that stood out to me the most was RWA’s statistic that more than half of Romantic Fiction readers are in a relationship with a spouse or a significant other (Click to tweet!). From numerous sources, including RWA, I’m inclined to believe that this statistic is consistent in Christian Romantic Fiction, too. (No, I can’t give you any cold, hard, evidence or links to back me up, so please understand that this is my OPINION based on my research.)
If the above is accurate, then middle-aged, financially stable, married women are the targeted audience for romance novels, whether secular OR Christian. Why?
Why are so many middle-aged, financially stable, MARRIED women reading about “new” romance? About heroes and heroines falling in love for the first, or final time?
Here are a few of my thoughts on this – and next week, I’ll expound on a more direct answer to the above question.
Fiction, in general, is like food to my soul. I LOVE to read, and I’m a multi-genre girl. I read everything from my Bible to the backs of cereal boxes. If there are words in front of me, I read them. Just like I love to eat – if there’s food in front of me, I’ll eat it. Ha! But the Lord designed our bodies to REQUIRE a balanced diet, right? Sure, our bodies will adapt and learn how to survive if we’re without certain elements, but over the long haul, never eating a fresh salad can mess you up. The Lord also designed our hearts and souls to have a balanced ingestion, too. There’s nothing wrong with a delicious romance novel (think “delicious chocolate”), but when it becomes the staple of our literary diets, it’s like making chocolate the only food we eat.
Now, some would say that’s not such a bad thing….
But seriously, consider what we’re filling our minds with. Is the fiction (and this applies to ALL genres, NOT just romance, but I’m primarily focusing on romance novels here) we read strengthening our relations? Or is it providing us with a means of escape from the reality of mundane? Is it feeding a longing for something we don’t have, relieving us of the responsibility to invest in what we DO have? What about for those who are NOT in relationships? Are romance novels setting us up with unrealistic expectations for our future relationships? (Click to Tweet! I know they did for me, and my husband is one of the most romantic men I know.
Or is it not really about any of the above at all?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
And on that note…. I have something exciting to share with you! I can’t divulge TOO much information yet, because it’s still in construction, but some of my author friends and I are joining forces to launch a new website:
Married…With Fiction, launching April 1st, 2013! (Click to Tweet!)
This was the scripture I read this morning: Ephesians 4:1-3 “Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
This is the goal of Married…With Fiction – we want to walk in a manner worthy of our calling, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit. This is a site where we will support the personal aspect of writers’ and readers’ lives, with an emphasis on growing and nurturing marriages, AS WELL AS the professional aspect, by mentoring, connecting, and sharing experiences with one another.
Stay tuned for more – unique giveaways, contests, critiques, and more!
AND come back to visit this Friday! I’ll be announcing the winner of one of Joanne Bischof’s Cadence of Grace books (Click to Tweet about this giveaway!) and we’ll be chatting with the author, herself!