All About The Genre Of Romance Writing

All About The Romance Writing Genre


Genres are great because they give us guarantees. We like to buy specific books in well-known genres because we enjoy the formula and we know what to expect.

In The 17 Most Popular Genres In Fiction, we said:

  1. Genre is a style or category of art, music, or literature.
  2. Genre controls what you write and how you write it. It describes the style and focus of the novel you write.
  3. Genres give you blueprints for different types of stories.

[MUST-READ for authors of crime fiction50 Fabulous Resources For Crime Writers]

What Is The Romance Genre?

This is a mass-market novel with an emotionally satisfying ending. These stories are about a romantic relationship between two people. They are characterised by sensual tension, desire, and idealism. The author keeps the two apart for most of the novel, but they do eventually end up together.

Category romances are short, usually no more than 200 pages, or about 55 000 words. The books are published in clearly delineated lines or imprints, with a certain number of books published in each imprint every month.

Publishers issue strict guidelines for each imprint. Depending on reader preferences and trends, publishers begin new lines and end existing ones. Most recently, erotic and Christian lines have been introduced while traditional Regency romance lines have ended.

All About The Genre Of Romance Writing

Why It Matters

According to the Romance Writers of America®, the romance fiction industry is worth $1.08 billion dollars a year. (source)

It is about a third larger than the inspirational book industry, and about the size of the mystery novel genre and science fiction/fantasy genre markets combined.

Romance novels regularly top the major bestseller lists (New York Times, Publishers Weekly and USA Today), and have a large, dedicated audience of readers.

History Of The Modern Genre Romance

Mills & Boon, a romance imprint of British publisher Harlequin UK Ltd, was founded in 1908 as a general publisher. The company moved towards escapist fiction for women in the 1930s.

In 1971, the publisher was bought by the Canadian company Harlequin Enterprises. The two companies offer a number of imprints that between them account for almost three-quarters of the romance paperbacks published in Britain.

Modern Mills & Boon novels, over one hundred of which are released each month, cover a wide range of possible romantic sub-genres, varying in explicitness, setting and style, although retaining a comforting familiarity that meets reader expectations.

In the US, modern romance genre fiction was born in 1972, with Avon’s publication of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s The Flame and the Flower, which was the first of the modern “bodice ripper” romance novels.

The novel went on to sell 2.35 million copies.

The category romance continued to adapt and evolve.

All About The Genre Of Romance Writing

There are many sub-genres, including:

  1. Paranormal – includes vampires, angels, dragons, werewolves, witches
  2. Fantasy – involves a focus on romantic, social, and to a lesser extent, political relationships
  3. Historical – romances in a setting located in the past
  4. Contemporary
  5. Category – books are published in clearly delineated lines, with a certain number of books published in each line every month.
  6. Time-travel – romances that include an element of time travel
  7. Erotic – romances where sex is an inherent part of the story
  8. Western – romances featuring cowboys
  9. Inspirational – wholesome, faith-filled stories that enrich the lives of readers. Meet characters who face challenges that strengthen their faith and lift their spirits. Whether it’s a second chance at life and love, an unexpected family blessing, a secret uncovered or a dangerous encounter—faith, forgiveness and hope have the power to change lives.
  10. Suspense – involves an intrigue or mystery for the protagonists to solve. Categories include women in jeopardy, cowboys to the rescue,  and espionage.

Suggested reading: 7 Types Of Sub-Genres

Some publisher are known for specific types of romance:

Harlequin Romances are “are romantic, uplifting, couple-focused stories that invite readers to get swept away to glamorous destinations all over the world, and experience all the intensity, emotion and sparkle of falling in love! The sensuality level is low – the bedroom door stays shut – but the emotion is high. We’re looking for fresh, contemporary voices who can explore that intense emotional connection between the hero and heroine.”

You can find submission guidelines for imprints here: Harlequin Submission

If you want to write for Mills&Boon, click here: Guidelines

If you’re looking for a list of publishers, click here: 40 Romance Publishers Who Want Your Novel

Suggested Posts On Romance Writing:

  1. Why I Write Romance
  2. Do You Have A Romance Novel In You?
  3. 20 Things To Remember When Writing Category Romance
  4. 5 Ways To Add Layers To Your Scenes In Historical Romances
  5. 10 Things Every Romance Writer Needs
  6. Romance Writing – Sex Sells
  7. Heroes And Anti-Heroes – What’s The Difference?
  8. Writing Sex Scenes – If You’re Brave Enough To Try

Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

© Amanda Patterson

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