During a class I taught last month, I wrote an "extra" email explaining the difference between single titles and category romances. For good measure I wrote a bit about main stream romances.
One class participant wrote an email back asking, Well, why does it HAVE TO be this. And why do I HAVE TO DO that.
My reply? You don't have to do anything. Seriously. What's the saying? You don't have to do anything except die and pay taxes. LOL The demarcations I outlined had to do with traditional publishing and what editors and publishers wanted to see from writers. In this day and age of self-publishing, I told him, you can write anything you want and call it anything you want. There are no single title and category police. :) There are no thriller or mystery police or horror and zombie police or...well, any writing police at all.
There is a little thing called reader expectation.
Granted, most readers probably do not know the terms single title and category romance. They don't understand genre fiction versus mainstream. They probably call them little books and big books. But when they dive into a book, expecting a big story -- because you've written a lot of pages -- and they get a super long category romance, they're going to know.
Some people might not be disappointed. Personally, I love the focus being only on the hero and heroine's story. If you can find a way to turn that into 400 pages instead of 250...I'd buy everything you wrote. :)
But if you write a book about two frogs and call it a romance and thousands of unsuspecting readers buy it...you may find yourself in a spot of trouble with readers.
Still, that's the least of our worries as writers. Our real problem is...if enough people write books about two mating frogs and call them romance novels, and enough people write really long category romances and send them out there like single titles, and enough people write books with a big story and only a little romance and call them romances...all those wonderful lines we rely on to guide readers to the right books will be lost.
What does this have to do with taking advantage of real opportunities? Well, instead of fretting about the differences, the boxes we seem to be put in, the demarcations between single title and category...between genre fiction and mainstream fiction...why not use them?
Why not give readers what they want?
If you know readers like deeply emotional scenes why not write them?
If you're planning to sell to people who like humor, why not make them laugh?
If you're planning to sell to single title readers, why not write a book that gives them ups and downs and highs and lows and a bigger broader story?
Why do we want to fight the things it's taken publishing decades to establish as SELLING TOOLS? LOL!!!
We've spent the past few years applauding the fact that we could paint outside the lines and I think we may have forgotten why the lines existed.
So take a minute to appreciate the differences, to realize that you're in the entertainment business and the easiest way to entertain is to give the readers what they want. And sometimes that's going to mean coloring within the lines. :)