I recently added another criterion to my romance fiction submission guidelines (you can see them in detail here: www.sourcebooks.com).
Now, in addition to looking for:
- a heroine the reader can relate to
- a hero she can fall in love with
- a world gets created
- a hook I can sell the book with in 2-3 sentences
The author has a career arc.
I've been to a lot of conferences lately, and I run into authors who have a romantic suspense, and an , and one YA and then there's a non-fiction manuscript. It may be an extreme example, but each one of those actually goes to a different buyer and a different section of the bookstore.
I tell these authors to pick one direction and plan to stick to it until they're well enough known to be able to make a leap to another subgenre or category. However, readers will not necessarily follow you from one subgenre to another. So it may be easier to branch out and add another subgenre/category, rather than move altogether.
At that point, and all along, you'll want to be thinking about your career and planning for it. People ask, but should I write in the most popular subgenre even if that's not the one I excel in? My answer is, you should write a book with a hook that so strong that no matter what the subgenre is doing, that book will break out!