I’ve just returned from attending the RNA’s annual summer conference, which this year took place at Lancaster University. If you’ve ever seen Lancaster’s campus, you’ll know it’s very pleasant—almost like a small town—and surrounded by rolling Lancashire countryside. Unfortunately, the weather was awful—another helping of the bad summer we’re having this year in the UK. But the food was great—hearty and delicious—and the staff went out of their way to help. The conference itself was very well organised, with lots of sessions to interest and stimulate writers of romantic fiction, and the delegates were a lovely bunch. So the rain and the gales didn’t matter at all. Many thanks to the RNA for a very successful event.
The word from attending publishers and agents was that commerciality is key to getting published in the UK romance market. The overall trend continues to be British escapism, so think city girl goes cosy—country cottages, seaside idylls, knitting circles and tearooms. Interestingly, the ‘cupcake’ genre has a healthy pick-up overseas. Also, touches of luxury, glamour and material comfort, though nothing too showy, vulgar or avaricious because we’re British! The writers who succeed are those who can pick up and run with these themes and give them a fresh spin and a unique voice. There was quite a bit of speculation about how Brexit might affect the market in months to come. If we do go into recession, escapism will be even more sought after by female readers!