A romance author writes stories about romantic relationships to entertain her readers. Many people associate romance novels with romance authors, but there are many romance authors who write other types of stories as well. A novel is typically defined as a single story of at least 30,000 to 40,000 words, though most commercial novels in bookstores are at least 80,000 words long. Flash fiction, short stories, novelettes, and novellas are examples of shorter works that a romance author might write. There are various sub-categories of romance as well as romance series, in addition to the various lengths.
Novels are typically written the most popular and best-selling romance authors. They can be standalone novels with different characters in each book, or they can be part of a trilogy or series of books that follow the same characters over time. There are also series or lines of books published romance publishers that have specific requirements. Some require, for example, that the story include couples who meet and marry, while others prohibit or require sex, among other restrictions. To increase her chances of being accepted into that line, a romance author can tailor her novel to those requirements.
Short stories, ranging in length from 1,000 to 10,000 words, can also be written romance authors. Short-short fiction or flash fiction are terms used to describe stories that are less than 1,500 words long. These are usually found in romance anthologies or magazines, or in women’s magazines that publish short stories every month. A novelette is a story that is between 10,000 and 15,000 words long, while a novella is a story that is between 15,000 words and novel length. Each length is usually defined differently each publisher and magazine.
Authors in this genre may write novels or short stories that are primarily about romance but also include elements of mystery, horror, science fiction, fantasy, or other genres. For example, ghosts and otherworldly creatures are common literary elements in paranormal romance. Various levels of sex are allowed in erotic romance stories and novels, which are sometimes explicitly described. There are many different types of literature that can be classified as romance, and many authors write in a variety of genres.
Many authors who claim to have written romance novels will also write in other lengths and formats. Shorter stories and novelettes usually have a limited number of characters and a simple plot. Novellas and novels can have larger casts of characters, subplots, and overall depth due to their increased length. A romance author can reach a wider audience experimenting with different types of storytelling while writing in different formats.