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Romance Publishing Industry statistics

The RWA offers many eye-opening statistics about the romance industry. The information below was reported by them in 2006.

About authors

  • 1,600 RWA members are published in book-length romance. Almost every author in the United States who is writing romance fiction is a member of our association.

  • On average, a published romance author writes 1-1/2 romance manuscripts per year. On average, one romance per author is released per year.

  • Many authors still maintain a “day job” in another field while writing romance.

about sales

  • Romance generated $1.41 billion in sales in 2003.

  • There were 2,093 romance titles released in 2003.

  • Romance fiction comprises 18% of all books sold (not including children’s books).

  • Romance fiction comprises 48.8% of all popular paperback fiction sold in North America.

  • Romance fiction comprises 33.8% of all popular fiction sold. (Different from above, this figure includes not just paperbacks, but hardcovers and trade-sized paperbacks as well as well.)

By comparision:

  • Mystery/Detective/Suspense is 25.6% of popular fiction sales

  • General Fiction is 24.9% of popular fiction sales

  • Science Fiction/Fantasy is 6% of popular fiction sales

  • Religious, occult, westerns, male adventure, general history, adult and movie tie-ins is about 10% of popular fiction sales.

About publishers

About ten publishers account for the overwhelming majority of sales.

About readers

  • 51.1 million Americans read romance novels; this is up by ten million readers since 1998.

  • In 2002, 93% of all romance readers were women. One in five women read a romance novel in 2002. 7% of romance readers were . One in 50 men read a romance novel in 2002.

  •  49.5% of romance readers are married; 33.3% single; 10.7% divorced; 6% widowed; 0.5% are separated.

  • About 70% are between 25 and 64 years of age, with the heaviest concentration about equally distributed between 25 and 35.

  • 2% of romance readers graduated highschool; 22% attended vocational school or have some college experience; 21% are college graduates; 10% have attended a post graduate program; 10% have associates degrees; 5% have some high school or less.

  • Fifty-seven percent (57%) of romance readers read between one and five romances per year. About 60% read between one and five romances each year; about 60% read between six and ten romances each year. A whopping 25% read between 20 and 100 romances per year!

  • Two out of every three romance readers do not plan to buy a romance novel when they enter a retail outlet, and instead buy by impulse when they see them on display.

  • Top three character traits romance readers like to see in heroines: 1)  intelligence, 2.)  strength of character, 3.)  Attractiveness.

  • The top three character traits romance readers like to see in heroes: 1.)  muscle bound, 2.)  handsomeness, 3.)  intelligence.


The RWA keeps up-to-date statistics on the romance fiction literature publishing industry and its relationship to the book publishing industry at large.

  • For more information, visit the Romance Literature Statistics pages at the RWA web site: click here.
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