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3 Mistakes New Romance Publishers Make (And How to Avoid Them)

It's no secret that romance publishing is big business; it was the highest-earning fiction genre as of 2022, and its readership is constantly growing.

The popularity makes sense; a hard-won happily ever after for two people who've confronted their demons and healed their emotional wounds is exactly what we all want to read in a world full of so much turmoil and uncertainty.

And this thirst for guaranteed happily ever afters has led to a veritable boom in romance publishing, which began with Avon, Harlequin, and Mills and Boon but has, for the last decade, been overwhelmingly flooded with exceptional titles by self-published authors, indie publishers, and small LLCs publishing ghostwritten books under pen names.

Like romance plots, there's no one path to happily ever after. One self-published author's success might look vastly different from that of a small LLC working with ghostwriters. But there are a few mistakes that you must avoid if you're a new romance publisher who wants to create great books and get them into the hands of hungry readers.

The first one?

1. Not knowing what you're selling

Many new publishers go into the business without doing thorough research into the romance genre. And to some extent, I understand. It's a vast subject that you could honestly spend a lifetime exploring. But there are basics that all publishers need to know:

-The genre's conventions

-The sub-genres, their conventions, and their readerships

-The lexicon (himbo, meet-cute, secret baby)

-The romance arc, aka story structure, aka story beats

-The book-selling platforms (Amazon, Audible, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords, Radish)

Finding those basics is as simple as reading. Read widely, observe what's going on in romance reader and self-publisher forums on Facebook and Reddit; listen to podcasts like Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, Fated Mates, and When in Romance; track new releases on Edelweiss; download Buzz Books as soon as it comes out; and explore books on writing craft, genre-specific marketing, and tropes. Do all that, and you'll learn what you need to know to get those first releases out and do it well.

But releasing requires time and consideration, which brings us to the second mistake new romance publishers often make.

2. Rushing your releases

Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. There's a steep learning curve to book marketing and distribution, not to mention a whole team to find: authors—whether they're writers submitting manuscripts or ghostwriters, editors, and cover designers. Rushing the process and not giving yourself enough time and space to learn from mistakes leads to two things: bad books and wasted money. Remember: good books can't be rushed.

The best thing you can do as a new romance publisher is give yourself the gift of time. Time to learn the business and find the best people to work with, so you can put out quality books that will make positive impressions on new readers.

Books that fall down on quality are often the result of the third mistake new romance publishers often make.

3. Not using an editor

Yes, editing is expensive. Yes, it takes time.

That doesn't mean it isn't integral to the publishing process, or that editors can be replaced with AI tools like Marlowe, Grammarly, or ProWritingAid.

Those tools might be helpful, but they don't replace the tailored feedback and guidance a good editor offers a writer.

And editors aren't just there to fix grammar or spelling mistakes. They advocate for writers and readers. They make sure that books reflect the story in an author's heart and the expectations of the reader picking up your book for the first time.

Publish without an editor at your own risk.

Avoid these mistakes and your path to publishing will be smoother than the chests on these heroes.

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