One of the best ways as a writer you can increase your likelihood of selling your story is to understand what genre you are writing in. Figuring this out early will help you to meet reader expectations and understand where your market truly lies. If you decide to go into traditional publishing you will know where to submit your manuscript for better odds of being accepted, but even if you self-publish you need to know who your target market is.

Once you decide on writing romance you should be aware that there is a large variety of subgenres to choose from. The difference between these subgenres are not always clear and can sometimes vary between publishers, but most agree on a few key aspects in each. I have listed several of the most prevalent of these subgenres as well as a short description, but keep in mind that this is not the full list.

Historical – Like one might expect historical romances are set in the past. There is quite a wide variety of stories in this subgenre. Regency romances are not included in this category, although you can still set a novel in regency England and have it be historical.

Contemporary – Contemporary romances are set in the present and include romantic suspense. While humorous stories are popular, serious issues and life events are also relatively common. Depending on the tone of the book, your publisher may decide to publish it under women’s fiction.

Category – These romances tend to be shorter than regular romances and get published monthly by a number of publishers. The RWA website also lists this under “contemporary series romance.”

Regency – Unlike a historical novel set during the regency period, regency romances focus less on physical action and sex and more on society, dialogue, and culture.

Futuristic/Fantasy/Paranormal – These books often have a fantastical element involved in the plot, but unlike traditional science fiction/fantasy/ paranormal genre books, the romance is the focus.

Time Travel – These stories often involve a heroine going back in time to meet the love of her life, but can also have a character come from the past into the present.

Gothic – These books have somewhat fallen out of popularity recently. Dark and moody atmospheres combined with dark and moody characters. Usually there is also a suspenseful element involved.

Romantic Suspense – Romantic suspense often contains elements of mystery and intrigue, as well as danger. Although related to the gothic romance subgenre, these stories often take place in present day and include drug dealers, serial killers, forensics etc.

Erotic – This subgenre places a heavy emphasis on sex as well as the romance.

Romantic Comedy – Can feature different types of comedy from witty to slapstick, and usually take place in present day.

Inspirational – In these stories religious and/or spiritual beliefs are central to the romantic relationship.

Young Adult – These books are written with teenagers in mind, so sex and sensuality are a little more subdued. The main characters also tend to be younger to mirror the ages of the audience.