All entries must contain a central love story and the resolution of the romance must be emotionally satisfying and optimistic.
With the exception of Erotic Romance, all categories may have varying levels of sensuality.
Contemporary Romance: Long
Novels that are set from 1950 to the present that are 84,000 or more words.
Contemporary Romance: Mid-Length
Novels that are set from 1950 to the present that are between 56,000 and 84,000 words in length.
Contemporary Romance: Short
Novels that are set from 1950 to the present that are between 40,000 and 56,000 words in length.
Novels in which strong, often explicit, sexual interaction is an inherent part of the love story, character growth and relationship development and could not be removed without damaging the storyline. These novels may contain elements of other romance subgenres (such as paranormal, historical, etc.).
Historical Romance: Long
Novels that are set prior to 1950 and that are longer than 89,000 words.
Historical Romance: Short
Novels that are set prior to 1950 and that are between 40,000 and 89,000 words.
Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance
Mainstream Fiction novels in which themes or elements other than the romance are integral to the story even though a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic resolution to the romance are still present. This category is intended for romances that do not fit neatly into any other category due to their mainstream fiction nature but where the central romance could not be removed without damaging the storyline.
Novels in which fantasy worlds or paranormal or science fiction elements are an integral part of the plot.
Novellas are between 20,000 and 40,000 words.
Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements
Novels in which religious or spiritual beliefs are an inherent part of the love story, character growth and relationship development and could not be removed without damaging the storyline. These novels may be set in the context of any religious or spiritual belief system of any culture.
Novels in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot.
Young Adult Romance
Novels in which young adult life is an integral part of the plot.
Best First Book
A Novel entered in another contest category. To be eligible, the author (or authors in the case of a writing team) shall not have had any other novel or novella previously commercially available in any format.