Contest Category Descriptions

Category Descriptions

Category (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. Categories are shorter than the typical contemporary. Like other types of romances, They can be dramatic, humorous, sexy, or mysterious.  The story should have good emotional conflict and a satisfying and optimistic resolution. In a romance, the love story is the main focus.

Single Title Contemporary 

(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 focus is on the character’s personal growth. Complexity of plot, level of sensuality, social issues, and a broader mass-market appeal often play a role in a single title. Plots may include suspense, thriller or mystery elements.

Paranormal  (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.


(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. This category should not include any elements of the paranormal category.


(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. 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.


(40,000 words and up) In this category, suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot. The mystery must be 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. The events of suspense must directly 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.