Lore of the Wilds author, Analeigh Sbrana, on how TikTok revolutionised the romantasy genre

"No matter one’s stance on required HEA’s or not–romantasy is, at its (clenched) core, one beautiful thing, and that is: fairytales for adults."

This post was written by Analeigh Sbrana, author of Lore of the Wilds

From Dragons to Dates: How TikTok Revolutionized The Romantasy Genre by Analeigh Sbrana

It’s not news that TikTok, the captivating video app that entices viewers to scroll for hours at a time, has had a massive impact on the publishing industry, as a whole, but what impact has it had on specific genres? Specifically, the romantasy genre?

What is ‘romantasy’? Ask anyone immersed in the bookish world, whether they be a reader, publisher, or author, and you will receive as many different answers as the people you questioned. Some say romantasy is romance first, fantasy second–that if it doesn’t adhere to the strict beats of romance with a clear Happy Ever After (HEA) then it can’t be classified as romantasy. Others say it’s fantasy with a large dose of romance, and that fantasy’s only limits are that of the author’s imagination, and as such, isn’t required to observe any rules at all. No matter one’s stance on required HEA’s or not–romantasy is, at its (clenched) core, one beautiful thing, and that is: fairytales for adults.

We who love to follow the chosen one on their quest to save the world don’t have to settle for an eight-book series without a single love interest, because in romantasy you might have two or three or five love interests all vying for the main character’s heart. It’s the best of both worlds–while the fantasy elements within the genre address real-world issues, we can still escape, with the romance aspect.

The truth is, the term ‘romantasy’ is new because, for decades, these stories were almost impossible to traditionally publish. Romance was either contemporary or harlequin and fantasy was almost exclusively written for white men by white men or by women forced to reduce their names to one or two letters, in the hopes that they could be taken seriously in a genre dominated by men. So, publishers refused to invest in this genre mashup–a few lucky established authors managed to publish their fantasies with romantic elements within the adult space–but for the most part … you could ride dragons, or you could fall in love, but you couldn’t do both. Not in traditional publishing anyway.

And then, along came TikTok.


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A post shared by Analeigh Sbrana (@literaryxqueen)

Traditional publishing appeared to be convinced that readers didn’t want stories featuring Black women wielding swords, using magic, or riding dragons. That readers didn’t want to see two princes from warring kingdoms accidentally falling in love when their swords crossed. That fantasy set in South Asian, East Asian, or African inspired settings wouldn’t sell. Growing up as a Black teen obsessed with fantasy, I used to wonder as I scoured libraries and bookstores, why I never saw a single character that looked like me. Was it because no one was writing the stories I longed to read? It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that people have always written these stories and readers had always longed for them–they just weren’t being published. However, the tide began to turn. The emergence of print-on-demand services, e-readers, and online retailers empowered authors to self-publish their fantastical, romantic, and diverse stories.

Then came TikTok, and with it, BookTok, a vibrant corner of TikTok dedicated to all things literature and it has become a powerful platform for these enchanting tales. BookTok made these novels unmissable because it is filled with creative video edits featuring snippets from favorite books, enthusiastic reviews, and trending hashtags like #romantasybooks. Authors could now write the most fantastical, romantic, inclusive books of their hearts and finally, there was a space that celebrated these stories. And not just a space for celebration and discourse, but when a book resonates with the community and becomes a ‘BookTok favorite’ it translates to soaring sales.

This platform became a game-changer, particularly for independent authors and their loyal readers, who paved the way for romantasy’s success, to the point that traditional publishers couldn’t ignore the phenomenon.

Take my recently released debut novel for example, Lore of the Wilds, which features an all-Black cast set in a high fantasy world with an enchanted library and alluring fae creatures. Lore of the Wilds exemplifies the special blend of fantasy and romance defining romantasy today. A few years ago, it would have been impossible for my series to make it to auction, let alone acquiring a two-book deal with my dream publisher. But with publishers finally recognizing the commercial potential of romantasy–the millions of adult readers willing to purchase the fairytales they yearn for–readers who want to fall in love with shadow daddies, experience the one-bed trope, and see a diverse array of characters taking their rightful place on the throne, all while kissing each other on the page. The Romantasy genre will only grow, allowing for more sales and more intersectionally diverse authors having their chance to shine.

Overall, TikTok’s, and more specifically, BookTok’s, hold on the romantasy genre has been nothing short of magical, casting a spell that’s brought not only a new generation of readers to the fantasy genre, fostered a new way for readers to discover and connect with these fantastical love stories, but it has absolutely revolutionized the publishing industry.

Lore of the Wilds by Analeigh Sbrana is out now.

Get your copy here.

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