However, each of these categories is distinct, both at the bookstore level with different buyers, and at the level of reader expectations.
In the romance category, the relationship between the hero and heroine—the love story—is the raison d’etre for the book. It must be central to the plot and the tension between them must be sustained throughout the entire story. Where in the sci-fi/fantasy category the world-building is the raison d’etre of the book, in paranormal romance the world-building must take second place to the love story. Where in mystery/thriller the suspense is the raison d’etre, in romantic suspense, the suspense must take second place to the love story.
The reason I bring it up is because I’m seeing so many manuscripts where the love story is being superseded by something else—and these books are intended for the romance category, so it’s a problem. It’s the main revision I’m asking for these days—and not only from debut authors.
So it’s important to ask yourself, what’s the source of the reader’s emotional experience in my book? Is it the world I’ve created? Is it the mystery/suspense that gets unraveled? Or is it the love story?
If your answer isn’t “the love story” then you need to either reconceive, or aim toward a different category. Today’s marketplace is categorical for a reason—with so many books being published (1.2 million last year!) booksellers need a very clear idea of where to put the book to reach its readership.
Here’s some data:
Top 50 Romance mass market bestsellers and Top 50 Thriller/Suspense mass market bestsellers each sold about the same quantity last week, with Thriller/Suspense ahead by about 2,000 units
Top 50 Sci fi fantasy mass market bestsellers sold through altogether about 14% of what Romance or Thriller/Suspense sold
Top 50 Mystery mass market bestsellers sold through about 25% of what Romance or Thriller/Suspense sold
Here’s what I’m looking for:
*Single title romance 90,000 to 110,000 words in all subgenres: paranormal, historical, romantic suspense, contemporary, erotic romance
*a heroine the reader can relate to
*a hero she can fall in love with
*a world gets created
*a hook I can sell with in 2-3 sentences
*the author has a career arc