Stay Away From The HEA ~ a Twitter Rant

A couple of uninformed authors are at it again.  Trying to reshape the very core of what defines the romance genre. No HEA. No Happy Ever After.

This happens a couple of times a year and I don’t know why. It’s not complicated. Genre rules aren’t there to annoy people. They are there to help everybody.

If I pick up a book that looks, sounds & smells like a romance and turns out to be a psychological thriller where the antagonist who masqueraded as the hero turned around and killed the heroine at the end, then I’m going to be PISSED. And I enjoy psychological thrillers. But when I spend my money and time on a book, I expect to get what I paid for. Readers are entitled to that.

Genres & their classifications help bookstores & librarians purchase books so THEIR readers can avoid being disappointed just like in the above scenario.

What these uninformed authors fail to realize is that those rules protect them–if they follow them–because readers will drop an author in a hot minute and never read them again if that inviolate trust between a romance author and a reader–delivering that HEA.

So. I went on a twitter rant & I’m giving it a permanent home here on my blog.


You have to have a #HEA to call it romance unless you want to the romancelandia horde descending on you. Plenty of threads have covered this. You don’t get to rewrite *our* genre rules to suit you.

This isn’t even a matter of *opinion*. These are *industry* standards. You query publishers based on the *romance* genre guidelines. *Booksellers* select romances for their *romance* section based on *romance industry* guidelines.

*Librarians* buy books for their *romance* collections keeping the *romance industry* guidelines in mind. There are *industry standards* for genre fiction, authors who haven’t really spent much time educating yourselves.

These didn’t spring up overnight. These aren’t about *gatekeeping*. These have been formed over many, many years. The mystery genre has standards. Horror has them. SF has them. Fantasy has them. And yes… ROMANCE has them.

There are several professional romance organizations across the world where you can see the *definition* for the romance genre.


Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.

A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.

An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.


 From stories that focus entirely on the developing relationship between two people, to fiction that shows a budding romance as one part of the hero or heroine’s journey, and into books that focus on long-standing relationships weathering storms – romantic fiction is a publishing powerhouse that reaches millions of readers every year.


There are love stories—and then there are romances.

With love stories, you can never guarantee it will turn out well. Romance novels always promise an uplifting, satisfying ending. In romance writing, we call this an HEA—Happily Ever After (though some of the steamier books may settle for an HFN – Happily…For Now.)

Now some people want to grumble, “but there’s no ‘category’ for love story…” Well. Yes, there is. You just have to understand the way categories work, I’m here to help…a mini-twitter workshop for confused authors who don’t understand how romance works.

Behold. BISAC codes. You understand these as *categories* on KDP, which is where most indie romance authors publish. And read more about *why* we use them hereIt’s that industry standard thing, again.

These are used to help librarians, booksellers & online sites like AMAZON categorize books for READERS so the RIGHT readers can buy your books. For the *confused* writer, a romantic book with a NON-HEA book, the typical romance buyer is NOT THE RIGHT READER.

So, how do you USE these codes/categories? AMAZON MAKES IT EASY! You don’t even HAVE TO KNOW THE CODES! Let’s look at the KDP.

KDP figure 1

Now this is where wise writers first use writerly skills to explain romantical inclinations of their romantical book that is NOT a romance, because…no HEA.

KDP fig 2

Now! KEYWORDS AND THOSE CATEGORIES!!!! Look at the keywords! Small town! Alphas! Vampires! Plenty of ways to get across the ‘romantic elements’. The categories. You can go with women’s fic…

Kdp fig 3


kdp 3.1

If your book is LGTBQ, there are subgenres of fiction…

kdp 3.2

There are subgenres of erotica, which is a subgenre of fiction!


And look, erotic also has subgenres of historical, SF/F, fantasy and horror.


erotica codes

If your work is HISTORICAL…

Look! Just for you!

kdp 5


But romance isn’t one of them, because ROMANCE comes with an HEA.

fig 6

That’s the *rule* of romance, and breaking it doesn’t make you edgy or anything more than a nuisance, and once we’ve dealt with before.

You do NOT to get rewrite *our* genre rules to suit YOU.

It ain’t happening.


the end

2 Replies to “Stay Away From The HEA ~ a Twitter Rant”

  1. I look fora good story, and yes sometimes i want a happy ending , but when a book does not end the way the back portrays it to end i’m disappointed, unless the author leaves it open for a 2nd book on the couple

Comments are closed.