Rice, fish, squid and lamb by Miriiam Isa. “The book chronicles the first love encountered by the main character, Liz. It follows her observations from a tender age of 5 to present day, 2009.”

Romantic reads are hot. Literally. The genre had an estimated $1.368 billion in sales in 2011, and accounted for 13.4% of the consumer book market. Additionally in 2008, the last year for which this data is available, 74.8 million people claimed to have read a romance novel. Given the popularity of eBooks (29% of 2011 readers preferred digital), these stats are likely to go up in the coming years.

So where are these voracious readers, and how do you find them? Here are a few tips:

Join the Romance Writers of America Association: If you want in on this community, this is where it’s at. (Remember, writers of a genre are often heavy readers, too.) Formed in 1980 to help romance writers achieve success, there are now more than 9,000 members and numerous regional chapters. By becoming active within the organization you’ll not only meet others, either locally or at the annual conference who love and write within the genre, but you’ll also have an outlet for feedback and potential contacts in the blogging world.

Consider an eBook price cut: As mentioned earlier, there’s an eager market for romance eBooks so entice readers with a deal. At Amazon and other online retailers prices for an eBook can be as low as 99 cents. At Lulu, you even have the option to offer your eBook completely free to build your following. If you’re not comfortable at that price point, think about offering your novel for $2.99 or $3.99 for a day or a week. Under $5 is enough of an impulse buy that a customer will feel comfortable taking the plunge without any guilt. More purchases mean more discussion, which is ultimately what you want. Friends and family are the number one way readers discover new titles. Additionally, once your book starts selling, it will be paired with other similar titles at top retailers, which will give it more exposure.

Seek out book clubs: A Google search for “romance book club” brings up pages of results for clubs that solely read print or eBook romance novels. Reach out to the owners of these sites and ask to do free giveaways or call-in for a book club chat. Alternatively, team up with other romance novelists you know and pitch a gift basket giveaway and big video event.

Make sure your ducks are in a row: Pardon the expression, but it’s true. A book’s description is the third “offline” and 4th overall factor in determining a customer’s purchase decision, so don’t blow it off. Make those few sentences interesting and think about ending them with a question that will entice readers to buy your book. Equally important is filling out your author bio. Here is a great article on how to write a successful author bio. After that is done, post the book’s cover on all online retailers, and put up a teaser chapter, too. For more information on what to do when, follow this marketing timeline, which includes tips on how to handle your social media platform.

Speaking of social media, yes, it’s pretty necessary. There are a number of new and high-profile writers on Twitter and Facebook and it would behoove you to follow them, if for nothing else, to soak up their knowledge.

Last but not least, given the breadth of this market, make sure you target the right bloggers and readers. A paranormal romance reader may not also be interested in romantic suspense, so do your homework first, and reap the benefits later.

What other tips do you have for romance writers? What groups are you part of that you lean on for writing inspiration and support?