Sunday, 9 February 2014

C is for ... Category Romance

Forgive me for being a week behind with this. Last week I was waiting to take my driving test (which I passed!) and this week I've been running around with hubby looking for a car (which we've found).

Next week's guest blog will be from the brilliant Kate Walker, who will bring her five things beginning with C, but for now, here is my C is for ... tropes of romance. As Kate is next week, and she's one of Mills and Boon's finest authors, it seems fitting that my 'C is for...' should be about category romance.

C is for Category Romance

Also known as Cat-Rom, category romances have been around for years. Mills and Boon have been publishing them for over 100 years. They're called Category Romances because they're divided into series, and then you have lots of subdivisions. So, for example, Mills and Boon have several imprints all with their own particular style, such as Modern, Historical and Medical (please note the imprints often change names, and these are correct at the time of writing) That's not an extensive list, by the way. M&B have loads of imprints and release roughly five new books from each imprint per month, and they're set at a price so that readers will be tempted to buy lots of them.

The romances in any of the imprints are just that. Romances, with the love story taking central place, and very in the way of little sub-plot.

M&B Modern tend to be set, as the name suggests, in the modern era. The heroes are generally billionaires, and the heroines are often ordinary girls thrown into a fantastic new world through their association with the hero (though that isn't always the case). Within the M&B Modern series are subdivisions based on fantasy heroes, such as Arab sheiks, Italians and Greeks. Modern novels are generally 50-55k in length. Current titles include What A Sicilian Husband Wants and A Queen for the Taking.

Historical romances are, again as the name suggests, historical. At 70k, they're a bit longer than the modern romances, to give the author time to build the world. As with Modern, there are subdivisions, so Historical romances may cover the Regency period, Vikings and Highlanders (not the immortal kind...). Despite the longer length, the romance still has to be central to the novel. Current Historical romance titles include: The Fall of the Saint and At the Highwayman's Pleasure.

Medical romances also do what they say on the tin. They're about handsome doctors and the excitement of the emergency room. The heroine may also be a doctor or a nurse. Anything that brings the two together. Current titles are Risk of a Lifetime and The Dangers of Dating Doctor Carvalho

M&B romances also have sub-sub-divisions, such as the 'secret baby' plot, the amnesia plot, the marriage of convenience. Though this may seem formulaic, it actually gives the budding romance writer a lot of scope in which to set their story. For example, a historical romance could be have a Regency setting, but it might also include a secret baby or amnesia. Or maybe someone who has forgotten they had a secret baby... There is also nothing to stop your doctor hero from being an Arab sheik or an Italian prince.

Anyone wanting to write for M&B is always advised to read across the lines to get a feel for the stories and to help you to decide which imprint you'd rather write for. It is generally the imprint you enjoy reading the most. M&B also run regular workshops, especially leading up to So You Think You Can Write, their yearly competition to find new talent.  Other publishers also publish category romances, but it's fair to say that Mills and Boon are the one you should be aiming for if you want a lifelong and reasonably well paid career writing category romances.


  1. I've finally found where you migrated away to! :) Is it possible to sign up for e-mail updates Sally?

    1. Hi Edith,
      lovely to see you! I really have to update this blog, but have been busy finishing off a novel. You can 'follow' Blogger blogs, but I don't know if there's an email list. It's ages since I've used blogger so I'm not sure what's what.


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