Contest Category Descriptions

Category Romance (also known as Series Contemporary)

(40,000 – 70,000 words) Manuscripts set from 1950 to the present that are part of a series of books. Category romances are shorter than the typical contemporary romance. Like other types of romances, they can be dramatic, humorous, sexy, or mysterious. The love story is the main focus of the manuscript. Though the romance doesn’t have to include an intensely physical relationship, it should have good emotional conflict and a satisfying and optimistic resolution.

Single Title Contemporary Romance

(70,000 words and up) This category is a longer novel set from 1950 to the present and is generally sold as a standalone title. The distinction of a single title is that the romance may be more balanced and share focus with the character’s personal growth or with other aspects of the story. Complexity of plot, level of sensuality, social issues, and a broader mass-market appeal often play a role in a single title romance. Plots may include suspense, thriller or mystery elements as an integral part of the emotionally and satisfying love story.

Paranormal Romance (Futuristic/Fantasy/Time Travel)

(40,000 words and up) This category may be set in any time period and elements could include, but are not limited to, new worlds or universes, mysticism, angels and demons, shapeshifters, ghosts/goblins/ghouls, vampires and zombies, or where science and its application or experimentation leads the story into fantastical and extraordinary events. The love story is still the main focus and the resolution of the romance is emotionally satisfying and optimistic. (Urban Fantasies might not have a Happily-Ever-After but must allude to a potential one at the end of the book.)

Historical Romance

(40,000 words and up) A novel set in any time period and any location prior to 1950. Suspense or mystery elements can be included within the plot as long as the historical setting remains uncompromised. The love story remains central to the story development and is emotionally satisfying and optimistic. This category should not include any elements of the paranormal category.

Inspirational Romance

(40,000 words and up) Manuscripts in which religious or spiritual beliefs (in the context of any religious or spiritual belief system) are blended with and form a significant, integral part of the plot, and a love story that is emotionally satisfying and optimistic. The character’s journey should include not only inward and outward character growth, but also spiritual growth. This category can include historical, suspense/mystery, or contemporary elements set in any time period.

Romantic Suspense Romance

(40,000 words and up) In this category, suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot and are blended with an emotionally satisfying and optimistic love story. A good balance must be established so that both the romance and the mystery are resolved to the reader’s satisfaction.The relationship of the protagonists must impact each decision they make and increase the tension of the suspense as it propels the story. In turn, the events of suspense must also directly affect the relationship and move the story forward. The manuscript may be set in any time period.

Women’s Fiction

(40,000 words and up) Manuscripts in which the story is centered on a woman’s emotional journey. This category may be written in any kind of fiction, of any tone or style, and set in any place or time. The romantic elements, while not the primary focus of the story, should be an integral and dynamic part of the plot or subplot. There should be a satisfactory resolution to the romance.