If you think authors have become rock stars to readers, who do you think writers worship?  I'll tell ya: Book buyers.

Enter Barnes & Noble Romance Buyer Tommy Dreiling, albeit not sporting eye liner or package-cupping leathers.

Nope, this intelligent and engaging guy knows that to move among thousands of worshipping women who'd kill for a slice of his time, it's better to go conservative and have a big knowledge of the genre - and confident understanding of what romance-reading chicks want.

"Romance popularity and sales have increased dramatically in the 13 years I've been buying romance for Barnes & Noble," says Dreiling, whose commitment to the genre is clear in the understated, yet still intense and animated ways in which he talks about his job.  "And what's very exciting is that for September, we've bought 159 romance titles - and that doesn't include series."
It's his familiarity w/ readers and book trends, as well as his rep for being a stand-up guy in the biz, which made me jazzed about meeting with Dreiling on a recent trip to B&N's NYC digs.  There, he told me a bit about his journey from BN bookstore manager to his current gig.

"Barnes & Noble's buyers are unique in that they have bookstore backgrounds first," Dreiling noted.  He spent five years as a B&N manager before moving to corporate to work as assistant to Bob Wietrak, VP of Merchandising.  Dreiling was thrilled to be given the opportunity to score romance as his first venture into buying, and he currently purchases all romances by bestsellers and "soon to be" stars.

"There sometimes is a misconception that we don't buy ‘midlist,'" says Dreiling of novels that may not become bestsellers but will make money and help develop a following and future book sales for an author.   "We buy everything great that comes our way, something for lots of our stores, if not all of them. " For example, often Dreiling will buy more of a midlist book to place in the author's hometown area or another store that makes sense.

Since everyone wants to be a rock star, I wondered what Dreiling thinks is the coolest thing about his hi-visibility position.  "Probably to watch as new authors in romance have a chance to become very big, very fast," he said, after giving the question a bit of thought.

"Word sometimes spreads in zero to 60, and in about one-to-two years, a large number of new romance authors break out.  It's fun to see something good happen, to have an opportunity to really put authors out in the market in front of readers."

What trends do you see in romance books?  What would you suggest Tommy consider taking a look at in the future? 

You've got the rest of today to hook up w/ Suz Brockmann at Center Stage to talk "Hot Pursuit," Troubleshooters, Izzy, SEALs and anything else!  BN mod Becke Martin's your hostess, so head over to have some fun!

Don't forget Eloisa James' manly mens @ her Review column: "Alpha Allure":


Please: Join me on twitter @michelle_rbtb!  And check out my romance stuff Tuesdays at "Unabashedly Bookish!"

Message Edited by Michelle_Buonfiglio on 08-14-2009 10:51 AM
by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎08-09-2009 09:12 PM

Sandra, what about "The Demon Viking Lord" or "Vikings Zombies In Space?"  The latter, of course, being a blended-genre hybrid w/Sci-fi elements.  I don't think it's too late for you to hop on board the para gravy train. But hurry; I just saw an editor the other day who told me para's it's on its way out...



by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎08-09-2009 09:21 PM

Monica, I think your 2C are very worthy.  Again, you've hit exactly on the idea that there's a lot for readers to choose, all kinds of settings, stories and, especially, heroines to 'hold our places' as we escape the everyday.  I'm not sure the historical really went anywhere, especially when I heard so many readers for the past 4 years expressing their love for ones like yours and others, sexy romps to even a wistful craving for the Regency of yore.  But I'm awfully thrilled to hear new voices buzzing about historicals -- and young readers enjoying them the same way so many readers through the years have discovered romance through romances set in times gone by. 


Oh, Portia, a lovely erotic historical Victorian, perhaps with a hero reminiscent of some sexy hero from today's TV, perhaps, someone w/ a kind of Carnaby St dash...

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎08-09-2009 09:29 PM
Oh yeah, I love it when I don't have to wait for the next book in a series!
by Author Maria_Geraci on ‎08-10-2009 06:45 AM

I love the back to back releases that some pubs are doing with new authors. I haven't read the Tessa Dare book yet, but it's definitely on my TBR pile.


I remember a few years ago when talk was that the historical was "dead". Well, it seems that it 'salive and kickin' to me and I for one couldn't be happier. Give me a Eloisa James or Madeline Hunter book any day of the week!


That said, i have to say my favorite genre is the contemporary. Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jennifer Crusie, to name a few. There's nothing like a good laugh with your romance:smileyhappy: As far as new trends go, wait till you read my critique partner, Louisa Edward's debut book "Can't Stand the Heat."  (St. Martins, Sept 1). It's foodie romance! I just saw "Julie and Julia" last night (loved it) and I think books like Louisa's are going to be really hot.


Maria Geraci

Bunco Babes Tell All (Berkley, May 2009)

by amyskf on ‎08-10-2009 10:28 AM

I love this.

I too love the blended genre of historical and paranormal -- Lois Greiman has a wonderful Regency series about a coven of government witches -- I know I already mentioned her in the funny mystery category as well, but she does both of these blended genres fabulously.


Steampunk -- I know it's the second time around for this genre, but I think in the hands of talented romance authors it could be soooo exciting.


B2B, keeps me sane.


And, yeah, the important thing for me is good writing, but the most important thing is the emotion, does it get to me? 

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎08-10-2009 11:55 AM

Miranda, you write: I like to think the one, great, never-fading fashion is for Good Writing.


Yeah; sure.  But what about demon-vampire-shapeshifting bands of brethren dukes aboard time-and-space traveling schooners? Huh?  Can you top that, girlfriend? Didn't think so. 


My work here is done.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎08-10-2009 12:05 PM

Oh, Maria! I'm a total lightskirt for Madeline Hunter and re-read her medievals at least every six months.  Sure, I could be spending that time with my kids, what of it?  I'm very glad you're rec'ing Loisa's book because it -- and yours! -- highlight the trend in novels that riff on things that bring women together, the "community" stuff folks are talking so much about.  Now, in terms of romance, we need at least one super-strong happily ever after HEA, but we don't care what it's wrapped in, especially if we can relate to it.


Which reminds me of an interesting experience I had at the Historical Novel Society N. Amer. conference recently.  Some yet to be pubbed authors were asking about writing sensuality and older characters: do readers want to read 'older characters?


I think they do.  I hear readers talk about wanting older characters they can relate to, not just over 35, but over 40, 50, 60 and beyond.  Someone even suggested GeRotica!  


But the point was that as we age and accept that for women sex becomes better w/ it, we want to read about the same discoveries for heroines.  And if they happen to have younger heroes to go along w/that, more's the better. However, older heroes also are great.  Move them from the secondary love stories to primary.  As we age, we generally also have more disposable income, and would like to be represented .   Perhaps there's an age limit that would work best for the fantasy placeholder of the mature woman, as there is for the younger woman.  Why not try to figure it out and offer us those books publishers?  :smileyhappy: 


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