What Readers Want: 7 Insights That Will Surprise You

By: Maya Rodale on May 20, 2015

517 views as of May 20, 2015 06:04 PM

As romance authors, we often wonder what our readers want to read—what types of heroes are hot right now, what readers want on a cover, and how sexually explicit the love scenes should be. Last fall, I launched a survey to find out as part of the research for my book Dangerous Books For Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels Explained (now available). And I discovered a lot of surprising insights about what readers preferred.

Over 800 people took the survey in the fall of 2014. It was promoted primarily via social media, and many romance blogs, authors and readers shared it. It’s by no means a perfectly scientific survey, though many responses and demographic data line up with what RWA has found. However, when asked what subgenres readers preferred, historical ranked higher than in other surveys, which I think adds an interesting twist to the results.

Here are some of the findings that I think a romance writer will want to know.

Like a virgin? While so many romance heroines in the history of the genre have been virgins, it doesn’t matter to readers very much anymore: 70 percent said it depends on the characters, 77 percent said it depends on the story, and just 1 percent want their heroines to be totally inexperienced. For heroes, it’s the same: it depends. But here’s where it gets interesting. More people said there aren’t enough virgin heroes (21 percent) than prefer very sexually experienced heroes (14 percent)!

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