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The Rise of Romantasy

Happy Valentine’s Day from Firebrand Technologies! In celebration of love month, we wanted to do a little research into the romance genre and what makes it so successful! Particularly lately.

If you haven’t heard, romance novels are currently the hottest and highest-earning genre of fiction in the entire industry! According to WordsRated, romance sales grew by 52% in 2023, possibly driven by its increasingly popular subgenre – Romantasy (a combination of Fantasy and Romance). But why is it so popular?

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of romance readers consist of women, with half having earned a college degree; however, these female romance readers are getting younger with each decade. In 2013, the main range of its readers were women ages 35-54. Today, that range has expanded to 18-54! The reason behind this trend seems to be fairly simple—social media.

An ALA Study conducted on Gen Z and Millennialsin late 2023 emphasized the important role that social media plays in how these generations read and discover books.

A key factor, they found, was the preferred social media platform that younger generations choose to receive their book recommendations from. Millennials prefer Facebook by a large percentage, followed by Instagram. Gen Z’s preferred platform is TikTok, followed closely by Instagram, in which the generation has now coined the terms “BookTok” and “Bookstagram” on those platforms. The study also revealed that Gen Z’s actually purchased and read slightly more books than Millennials in all formats, specifically in print, and 54% of both generations physically visited a library within the previous 12 months.

So what does this matter? Well, it’s becoming increasingly more obvious that Gen Z’s love to read, period, and they have a wide variety of choices in how they choose to do so, whether that’s print, ebook, audio, or even websites like Wattpad. According to Wattpad, Gen Z’s are embracing every genre, including Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Horror, Action, and – of course – Romance. Gen Z apparently reads more romance than any other generation or genre (followed very closely by Fantasy & Sci-fi). Therefore, is it any wonder that Romantasy, specifically, made it into the top charts in 2023? In fact, we’re a little surprised it took this long!

“I like that Romantasy is easy to pick up and put down in today’s busy world,” says Krysta Arguin, avid millennial Romantasy reader and Application Support Analyst for Firebrand Technologies. “This genre suspends disbelief just enough that it doesn’t get bogged down in the monotonous day-to-day life that a ‘normal’ romance story might still touch upon.”

If you’re wondering what the difference is between Romantasy (also called Fantasy Romance) vs. a typical Fantasy book with romance, you wouldn’t be alone. There are a number of descriptions online, but the best way we can break them down is this:

  • Books with a heavy fantasy plot with romance scattered throughout, like The Night Circus, would NOT be considered Romantasy, as the primary storyline is fantasy.
  • Books with a heavy romantic plot with fantasy aspects scattered throughout, such as The Princess Bride, would also NOT be considered Romantasy, since romance is the primary storyline.
  • Romantasy is the balanced combination of the two genres, with the primary storyline appearing both as romance and fantasy. They’re commonly set in fantasy worlds consisting of magic and mystical creatures (like dragons and fairies) but also feature the classic romance themes, and are known to be rather “spicy.”

Some common Romantasy tropes include:

  • Meet-cutes
  • Happily ever afters
  • Enemies-to-lovers or forbidden love
  • True love’s kiss
  • Love triangles
  • Interspecies pairings (such as fae&human)

The #Romantasy tag alone has over 450 million views on TikTok and has billions of views across all social media. Goodreads has even recently added the category to its yearly Choice Awards! Needless to say, Romantasy is the new hot topic.

Many of our clients at Firebrand Technologies have taken full advantage of this new, skyrocketing genre, including Podium Audio, who have recently taken strides to up their marketing efforts for Romantasy titles.

“We spend a lot of time thinking creatively how to help authors build their particular platforms and connect with their fans,” said Emily Derr, Head of Production for Podium. “One great example of a romantasy author of ours is the magical Carissa Broadbent. We built the following promotion around Valentine’s Day and her new release, Slaying the Vampire Conqueror, a standalone in the Crowns of Nyaxia series.”

As an active service provider for the book publishing industry, we find it incredibly refreshing to see such a surge of popularity in reading, particularly with younger generations, especially enough to create its own award category! It’s clear that the Romantasy genre has become more than just a trend—it’s a cultural phenomenon embraced by readers of all ages, offering a delightful escape into magical realms intertwined with timeless romantic themes.

So, whether you’re a seasoned Romantasy reader or a newcomer to the genre, we wish you happy romance reading, and a happy Valentine’s Day!