Is Rockstar Romance really a thing?

posted in: Various Musings | 1

I ask that in the most rhetorical of ways—because, yes, of course it is! For starters, rock stars make awesome romance novel heroes. But bear with me as we take a trip back in time…

The year was late 2010.  I had had a rough couple of years, but I’d found my writing mojo again and I was putting words on a page.  It felt rusty at first but it didn’t take me long to hit my stride again.  In a couple of months, I’d penned what I thought was a truly unique book—it was steamy and it featured an imperfect rock star as the hero.  A few things to note:

  • I didn’t think there was a market for it
  • I wasn’t sure I could get a publisher for it
  • I had to write it anyway

Well…those who have followed me for a while probably already know the story of how I discovered the Amazon KDP program that spurred the indie publishing boon and, before I knew it, it was April 2011 and I was pushing the Publish button for the very first time.  I wish I could conjure up the emotions I was feeling at the time, but I really can’t.  All I know is I had feelings of expectation and dread—and hope.

Amazon’s set up was pretty different back then, and although I continued writing other books, I was trying to figure out how to get mine read.  I had no audience, no background in marketing, no freaking clue.  Still, I sold six ebooks that first month.  More importantly, I began the research.  I tried to figure out what I needed to do to be better seen by folks who wanted to read my books.  The main way I did it was by scouring Amazon.  Back then, the “also boughts” worked a little differently in the visual sense, but there were no ads on the book pages, no other distractions.  It was pretty easy as an author to see what folks were reading who also happened to find your book.

So I bought some of them and discovered what you probably already know:  Rockstar Romance IS a thing.

The old cover of Tangled Web

First, I purchased Olivia Cunning’s Backstage Pass—and then I realized something important:  Umm, readers might want some backmatter.  So I added a little something.  I learned formatting more quickly.  Then I purchased a book called Blindsided (With the Band Book 1) by Sayer Adams (and bummer—it doesn’t look to be available to purchase anymore).  After that, I branched out to reading other romance books that popped up in my also boughts and learned so much just from reading those stories.  More importantly, just like with cooking, I learned presentation is important.  My cover was okay, nothing to write home about, but a far cry better than my first several attempts at my Nicki Sosebee series.  In fact, I only refreshed the cover for Tangled Web a couple of years ago, inspired and encouraged by my friend Nicole of Love Kissed Book Bargains.

But I’m veering off course.  Let’s just say it was an incredible year of learning.  I discovered and published on Barnes & Noble for the Nook and Smashwords.  I grew quite frustrated with the Kindle for a while because the formatting was effed up in more ways than I can describe.  I’m pleased to say that they have more than fixed those issues as time has gone on, and they supply far more tools to authors nowadays to help with that.

I was writing other books, too, especially focusing on the Nicki series, partly based on other research I’d done, so it took me a while to really truly realize that, yes, friends…rockstar romance is a THING!  I’d been waiting breathlessly for months waiting for reviews and finally got one on my book.  A three-star that was somewhat snarky but I was actually relieved that it was three stars!

And then I got an email from a young fan who said my book meant the world to him.  I still have that email saved in my inbox!  I remember where I was and what I was listening to when I read that email—yes, friends, it made that kind of impact on me.  Then, after having sales slowly build, something happened that autumn that blew my socks off.  Suddenly, my little book was selling dozens of copies.  Over three hundred copies in one month!  It was the little book that could.  But I knew something was up.

Google helped me figure that one out.

I discovered that Maryse of Maryse’s book blog had read and reviewed my book, and I credit her with getting me seen initially all those years ago.  She and I even corresponded a bit, and I devoured her website.  It was then that I learned about book bloggers—more specifically, romance book bloggers.  She had a heck of a following and an engaging personality and I thank her for her help all those years ago.

If I hadn’t realized it before then, I knew afterward…rockstar romance is a serious thing and it’s not going anywhere.  It’s a legitimate contemporary romance subgenre and one of my favorites to write in.  If I had to guess why, it’s probably because I’m a girl of the 80s who loved hair metal, then loved grunge, followed by the resurgence of all kinds of metal that I still listen to and love to this day.  And, friends, you already know, it’s not just the music.  It’s everything.  Writing about it was the next best thing to actually living it.

It wasn’t until almost a year later, though, that it dawned on me that Tangled Web had sold far more copies than any other books I had published—combined (just to put that into perspective, I’d published nine other novels by that point!).  Maybe, I thought, I should write another rock star romance book.

So I did.

A book called MADversary helped me find a ton more readers (seriously!!!), including some bloggers whom I consider friends to this day.  (I’ve since rewritten that book and republished it as Love and Music).  And even though the Nicki Sosebee series was my passion project and had a few dedicated readers, my rock star romance titles were the ones getting the attention.  So I wrote two more rock star romance titles that year and realized what you’ve known all along:  Rockstar romance is truly a thing of beauty, and there are readers who can’t get enough of it.

As I look back over the past ten years of my indie publishing career, I marvel at how much things have changed but more so at how much I’ve learned.  Ten years ago, my kids were all still living at home, all still going to school, and I was figuring all this stuff out in my spare time.  Now they’re grown, in various stages of leaving the nest and adulting…and I have lots more stories to tell.  I’m still not done learning and the landscape is no longer fresh and new, but I’m excited for the future.  If you thought finishing off a couple of my long-running series meant I was done writing rock star romance, please know that you were mistaken.  I have plans.  Big plans.  Bullet and Vagabonds are done and Feverish is all but finished, but I still have to wrap up Tangled Web and the barely begun Wishes. And I have a hoard of ideas for new stuff.  Here’s what the next year looks like in terms of rock star romance:

  • January 2022 (tentative but hopeful date) Taking Chances, a book I was cowriting with the late Selene Chardou when she passed away in 2017. We never finished it, but I’m going to and, when I release it, all proceeds will go to her daughters.  I just haven’t had the heart to finish it, but I’m ready now.
  • February 2022 Shake Me (Rock Stars on the Rise #1)…you are gonna freaking love this book! 
  • March 2022 Shame Me (Rock Stars on the Rise #2)
  • April 2022 Save Me (Rock Stars on the Rise #3)
  • May 2022 Tangled Web #5
  • July 2022 Wishes #2
  • August 2022 Wishes #3
  • September 2022 Wishes #4

So 2022 is gonna be a rockstar-romance-alicious year for my readers.  But there will be even more to come.

Now please know that this schedule is tentative but some of these projects are already written or partially written and they’re on my schedule—but they are subject to change, especially if you, my readers, want me to change it.  So let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Oh…one more thing.  If you want to be notified about any of these new releases, you can sign up for my newsletter here. But I want to leave you with one final thought:  Rockstar romance really is a thing, and it’s here to stay, baby.  Rock on!

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