The Unpredictable Trends in Romance Writing

In an era of shifting societal norms, romance literature has experienced a transformative journey. The genre has moved beyond conventional tales of love and courtship, delving into uncharted territories of relationships, desire, and exploration. Among the authors at the forefront of this evolution is Nikki Rome,  in the world of romance literature. Rome is known for her dedication to exploring diverse themes and challenging conventional boundaries, as a romance writer, advocate, and entrepreneur.

Rome talks about her career, the changing dynamics of the romance genre, her brainchild, “Smut Lovers,” and her take on trigger warnings. Her insights offer a glimpse into a dynamic industry that reflects and shapes our evolving perceptions of intimacy, love, and personal exploration.

Nikki Rome, Author of ‘Luca’

“Romance trends can be quite unpredictable. One moment, billionaire romance is all the rage, and the next, it’s hockey romance, spurred by one exceptional book.”

Rome’s journey into the world of romance literature is a testament to the genre’s enduring allure. For her, it all began with a passion for reading. “I think you will find,” Rome says, “no matter what author you speak to, whatever genre they write in, they usually have a background of reading it for quite a while.” Romance readers often grow into authors, and Rome was no exception.

Her venture into writing, however, was an organic progression. Rome explains, “Many years ago, I was reading a series and decided that I was going to write my own little versions of the way I wanted to see a book go.” These stories languished on her computer until a fateful encounter with a friend who was already an established author in the indie publishing world. Encouraged by her friend, Rome took the plunge into the indie publishing realm. “I didn’t even know it was a thing,” Rome recalls with a touch of humility, “and here we are, three years later, with 30 titles and a whole bunch of stuff.”

One of the achievements in Rome’s career is the creation of “Smut Lovers.” This project has evolved into a thriving community and an annual conference, aimed at celebrating the spicier side of romance literature. The roots of “Smut Lovers” can be traced back to a simple yet powerful idea: challenging censorship in the romance genre.

“Romance, specifically the spicier version of romance that I write, is extremely popular,” Rome explains. “However, it is constantly censored.” In an industry predominantly driven by female authors and readers, the romance genre has often faced scrutiny and censorship. Rome decided to combat these challenges head-on by creating a platform that not only celebrates erotic romance but also educates and empowers authors and readers alike.

“Smut Lovers” offers a safe space for like-minded individuals, and it has grown exponentially. Rome elaborates, “The conference this year was extremely successful. We had a lot of authors who came, many of whom were experiencing their first book signing. Readers attended the workshops, fostering personal connections with authors and acquiring deeper insights into the genre.”

The success of “Smut Lovers” showcases a hunger for open dialogue and exploration of romance literature that goes beyond traditional boundaries. “I’d like to see more authors like me,” Rome reflects, referring to herself, “authors who are unafraid of calling it Smut and enjoying the various genres of romance and erotica.”

The romance genre has seen numerous trends come and go over the years, offering a vibrant tapestry of stories to readers. Rome observes, “Romance trends can be quite unpredictable. One moment, billionaire romance is all the rage, and the next, it’s hockey romance, spurred by one exceptional book.” Authors who can adapt quickly can capitalize on these trends, while readers enjoy a never-ending supply of fresh stories.

But Rome states that it’s not just about chasing trends. “I pay close attention to the romance genre and the various sub-genres,” she says. As the founder of “Smut Lovers,” Rome is aware of the complexities within the genre, especially in the realm of dark romance. This sub-genre explores edgier and more controversial themes, including relationships with villains or characters recovering from trauma.

The evolution of dark romance, according to Rome, has been influenced by collective experiences over the past few years. “In the beginning of Covid, we saw more feel-good romance as people sought comfort during their isolation,” she notes. “However, as time passed, readers and authors alike began to reflect on their own experiences and traumas.” The result was a surge in darker themes that delve into trauma and recovery, often depicting complex relationships and unconventional dynamics.

This trend aligns with a broader movement to include trigger warnings and content warnings. “Content warnings have become a significant trend in romance literature,” Rome explains. “In the past, they were controversial because authors didn’t want to reveal too much of the story. But I’d rather give away part of the story than have a reader put my book down and never pick it up again.”

Trigger warnings have evolved into a vital aspect of the genre. Readers appreciate knowing what they’re getting into, especially when dealing with sensitive themes. Rome goes above and beyond to provide detailed content warnings, making her readers’ experiences safer and more informed.

As the landscape of publishing undergoes transformations, the independent publishing model is gaining momentum. Rome is a firm believer in independent publishing, providing authors with more creative control and opportunities to react swiftly to emerging trends. “The more control the creative has over their work, the better,” she states.

The rise of hybrid publishing is another noteworthy trend. Authors are increasingly exploring opportunities to publish some of their work traditionally while keeping other aspects of their portfolio independently published. This approach offers a balanced and flexible approach to the ever-evolving industry.

Rome believes that audiobooks and international translations will continue to grow in popularity. Access to audiobooks has democratized literature, making stories more accessible to those with busy lives. Additionally, the international reach of books has expanded exponentially, and authors are now able to explore different markets and cultures through translated works.

“Traditionally, large publishers are sometimes too slow to adapt to trends,” Rome points out. The ability of independent publishers to pivot swiftly and connect with niche audiences has cemented their place in the industry.

For those looking to embark on a journey into the world of romance writing, Rome offers a simple piece of advice: “Sit down and write it.” Many aspiring authors grapple with the fear of starting or face the formidable foe of imposter syndrome. However, Rome’s guidance is clear and actionable. The hardest part is taking that initial step, but once you do, the creative process often flows naturally.

The romance genre, as showcased by Rome, has embraced diverse themes, transcending traditional boundaries, and adapting to the ever-changing dynamics of the world around us. The unpredictable trends within romance writing reveal its capacity to respond to societal shifts and reader preferences, whether it’s the allure of billionaire romance, the exploration of darker and more complex relationships, or the inclusion of vital content and trigger warnings.

Rome’s passion for independent publishing and her foresight regarding the future of the industry highlights the growing importance of creative control and adaptability for authors. Aspiring authors can draw inspiration from her journey, recognizing that the hardest part is often taking that initial step to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.


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