Often I will receive submissions of novels tying in an element of mystery and suspense with romance. Writers targeting the romantic-suspense market will find difficulty in placing this type of story. Why? Because romantic-suspense readers have certain expectations that won’t be met with a mere element of mystery and intrigue.
In my experience trying to sell and market romantic suspense, I have found that the readers of this genre want all-out adventure and crime solving along with compelling romance. The suspense is foremost, with the romance being tied in so deeply that the story won’t survive without it.
The romantic leads must be the hero and heroine. Neither can be on the sidelines, witnessing the problem or contributing almost nothing to its solution. They must be intricately involved in solving the crime. This is why readers will often see a detective assigned to protect someone in danger. The detective can be either the male or female protagonist.
I think it is helpful for romantic-suspense authors to have ready access to a police officer or detective friend who can help with procedural accuracy. I also recommend that you become a fan of romantic-suspense novels by reading fine authors like Lynette Eason. (Our agency represents more than 20 fabulous authors in this genre. Go fill your to-be-read pile today!)
As for suspense, the genre is serious that the plot must offer true suspense in which the characters are put in life-threatening situations. Sometimes secondary characters may even be wounded or perish. However, the first level of secondary characters, such as the protagonist’s children, may be put in danger but must always survive.
Intrigued enough to try your hand at romantic suspense? If so, the current market is friendly to this genre. If you are talented in writing this type of story and willing to work hard, success may be yours.
[An earlier version of this post ran in September 2011.]