Series Versus Single Title
There are two distinct types of romance novels: single title and category. Category romances are short and fit into a publisher's clearly delineated grouping. Single-title romances are longer and do not fit into a publisher's standard category lines. The name single title can be misleading though as they are not always stand-alone titles and can be several interconnected books.
Series or “Category” Romance Novels
Category romances are the mainstay of the Harlequin Enterprises empire. These are shorter romances that have an easily recognizable cover brand, such as family and home for Silhouette Special Edition or mystery for Harlequin Intrigue. The books are part of a numbered series and the line publishes the same number of new titles each month. Most are carried in bookstores, and they're usually available through an in-house book club at substantial discounts, too, with each month's titles shipped to the reader as a single unit.
In 2007, Harlequin Enterprises released over 800 titles a month around the world from their various publishing operations. Their books are sold in 94 international markets, on six continents, and in 25 different languages. Is it any wonder that, on average, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises purchases over two original works of fiction each day?
Levels of sensuality can vary from Mild to a full-out Scorcher, depending on the line. So can the size of the book, or word count. The lines generally range from a low of 50,000 words to a high of 85,000, although each book in the series is the same approximate number of pages.
To make the books uniform, word counts are especially important in category romances. Because each line has a general “theme” and a specific word count, the publishers offer editorial tip sheets, or guidelines, for writing the books.
Single-Title Romance Novels
Single -title romances are longer books and encompass a wide range of subject matter. Harlequin Enterprises also publishes single-title romances, although the majority of these books are published through New York — based publishers, such as Berkley/Jove, Avon Romance, Kensington, Dorchester, Grand Central Publishing (formerly Hatchette Group), NAL, and Random House, among others. While these publishers generally do release new romance novels each month, there is no set number and can vary from month to month.
A single-title romance has more of everything — more plot, more characters, more romance. They can also tackle more complex and emotionally gripping conflicts, too, though that isn't always the case. The covers range from the traditional clinch to something with a more mainstream fiction feel.