The Romantic Novelists’ Association – Where Savvy Romance Writers Begin

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By Iheoma Okoroma (aspiring romantic author)

From buying flowers as a gift to reading about celebrities’ loves lives, to saying ‘I love you!’, romance is as alive today as ever. And when to comes to fiction, romantic novels account for more than 50% of global book sales every year. Why is this? Well, everybody loves good romance, and whether we want to acknowledge it or not, it’s what makes us all tick.

 

Romantic Fiction

Romantic fiction used to be the boy-meets-girl ‘tried and tested’ yarn, with the guaranteed happy ending. Today romantic writing has undergone something of a proliferation. We see comedies, chick lit, and supernatural tales all qualifying as romance. There is even the teen or inspirational category currently on the scene, which, you guessed it, is low on ‘heat’ levels. And new categories are being discovered all the time. While it may seem that so long as the story has a romantic thread, it qualifies as romance, what distinguishes romantic fiction from other genres is that romance must be the driving force in a romantic novel.

 

Authors

Authors in the romance genre include Barbara Cartland, Danielle Steel, Catherine Cookson, Victoria Connelly and Freya North.

 

 

RNA

So, apart from taking creative writing classes how may aspiring authors improve their chances of getting published? Did you know there’s an organisation bursting with resources for romance writers and enthusiasts? It’s called the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

This marvellous institution was founded in 1960, with the sole purpose of bringing together writers (and readers) of romantic fiction. To date they are the only dedicated organisation in the UK offering this important service. The RNA celebrated their golden anniversary in 2010, and they’ve recently undergone a revamp (including the election of new president Katie Fforde) to boost their profile and make them more accessible. Currently members number about a thousand.

RNA parties

Twice a year the RNA hosts a summer and a winter party. Expect appearances there from editors, publishers and other associates of the romance writing world. The RNA also holds a prestigious Awards ceremony celebrating contributions as ‘Romantic Novel of the Year’. The ‘Joan Hessayon Award’ and ‘Katie Fforde Bursary’ recognise contributions from the best new and pre-published authors.

The RNA also run a three day Summer Conference offering a bonanza of seminars, workshops, author talks and so on. This year the conference was held in Cardiff, Wales.

 

Membership

Unlike other writers’ associations, the RNA is unique in welcoming pre-published authors into their institution. This provides ‘schooling’ and an insight into what goes on behind the scenes of romance writing.

 

Applications open on the 2nd January every year. It’s wise to get your application in early, particularly if you’re applying for the New Writers’ Scheme (NWS) as that is frequently oversubscribed. Joining instructions will be posted on the RNA’s website in mid December. The fee for 2012 is £120. Benefits of NWS membership include your right to submit one full novel for critique by an experienced (and industry aware) Reader. It’s worth remembering that manuscript assessment agencies charge many hundreds of pounds for a similar service. Other benefits include access to Romance Matters, a quarterly magazine delivering the latest news and issues from the world of writing romance.

Even if you don’t make it into the RNA, the local Chapter meetings offer opportunities to meet with other new and established authors in your area. Topics discussed during these meets may be on how to submit a manuscript or a debate on traditional vs. self publishing. Attendees have a wealth of experience and often give tips to aspiring authors. Remember, if you don’t make the RNA this time round, there’s lots still available to help you on your writer’s journey.

 

For the RNA 2012 calendar of events and other information see www.rna-uk.org.

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