1. Contemporary romance continues to be a huge draw, ESPECIALLY stories set in small towns and stories in series. Readers like groups of characters they can become attached to over multiple stories.
2. Historicals are still enjoying traction, with a projected growth in those set in the WWI and WWII time periods (thanks to the influence of shows like "Downton Abbey").
3. Romantic suspense is also solid, thanks to popular books like Gone Girl and Girl on the Train (perhaps if you can work the word "Girl" into your title, you'll have a guaranteed best-seller LOL).
4. Trendy heroes: groups of men (brothers, gangs, teams); bikers (especially with tattoos); sports figures (especially hockey players); and strangely enough, organized crime heroes. (Like Al Capone? I'm not really sure about this one).
5. Diversity in characters and relationships is becoming something readers want and seek out. This includes diversity in race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, ability/disability, and other. Characters in multicultural/inter-racial relationships are also popular. Panelists felt this was less a trend and more an evolution in the genre to reflect what's happening in society as a whole (which I think is great!).
6. Audio books are hot and will continue to be so. Interestingly, a couple panelists thought that a new trend of using multiple narrators (male and female voices for the hero and heroine, for example) will grow in popularity. Not sure how that might affect production costs, especially for those of you doing it on your own, but it's something to think about.
7. There's a certain reader population seeking "older" heroes and heroines, those out of their 20s. Those readers are also seeking "issue-driven" books where characters deal with things like PTSD, autism, and/or depression. That might be a challenge for some romance writers, but it might also be a way to work real, flawed, relatable characters into your books.
8. Novellas are enjoying growth as well. Many authors (I'm one of them) are releasing novellas in between their longer, full-length novel releases, and readers seem to like those.
9. Social media continues to have a huge influence on reader decisions when it comes to book buying. Advice: make your posts visual-heavy, since pictures get more attention on most social media sites than straight text posts. And if your post contains a hot guy and just a little bit of teaser text, even better!
10. Finally, the panelists agreed that a strong story will sell, regardless of the current trends. The old advice seems to hold true: write what you love, and the rest will follow.