The RWR this month published an article by a Kensington and Dorchester author, Deborah McGillivray about the fact historicals are back. Or indeed did they ever go away? Basically the market share became smaller, publishing slots fewer, but they still represent a large percentage of readers.
The author apparently did some research with Amazon community and discovered that most of her respondents were first time/only been reading historical for a year or two. She had expected that it would be readers returning to the fold as it were but the genre is attracting new readers. There are several problems with a self selecting sample and the size was probably too small to be of lasting value, but it was interesting. From the letters I get, I too see a lot of new to historical readers.
One of the reasons McGillvray gave was the increased popularity of certain television shows such as Rome, the Tudors, Deadwood etc had stimulated interested. Of course, the BBC showed a very high bonnet count this Christmas as well. Well done historical series in the media are popular.
So what are the trends in Historical romance.
One big one I would say is the early middle ages. I know from my conversations with editors that the early middle age/warrior books are proving popular. It is partly why they decided to put Taken by the Viking into the US before I finished the series.
I think the early Victorian period/Industrial revolution will be a growing area. A number of authors have had success with that, including me with A Christmas Wedding Wager. The success of Cranford, North and South, and Jane Eyre on television shows that there is an appetite for this period. I understand that there is a movie about the young Victoria that is coming out soon. And I do think for a certain section of readers, they do not make too big a distinction between early Victorian and Regency.
I am not seeing paranormal in historicals as a trend at HH btw. Other publishers may be, but not HH. The HH reader still seems to prefer the straight historical.
I also think there remains a trend for Unusual historicals. However, the stories have to be strong.
But ultimately the big trend in historicals is the same as it always was -- excellent stories that hold readers gripped to their seats.
As with anything in romance publishing, things go in cycles. I fully expect to hear that Vampires have reached their peak, or that law enforcement heroes have maxxed out. This is mainly because they have been so strong over the past few years and publishing slots have increased. It does not mean that no books are being sold with these themes, simply that the growth rate has slowed and the books need to be super strong.
Ultimately, it is the strength of the story that counts.
My lovely, lovely editor said that she preferred a strong manuscript from me and was quite happy to move my deadline to achieve it. So I do not have to pull several all nighters.