Romance, Erotic Romance, and Erotica​

Romance, erotic romance, and erotica might seem the same to some people but they play by very different rules. If you’re intending to write either, you need to know how they work, and if you’re new to reading these genres you should know what to expect going in so you can find exactly what you’re looking for.

Each genre can be all lengths and styles – short stories, novelettes, novellas, and full length novels. From personal experience, erotica tends to run shorter than the other two, but this is not a requirement by any means.

All three may be traditionally published or self-published, however erotica is more often self-published by comparison. 

Things may get muddy when it comes to categorizing books because many platforms restrict the publication of erotica, and/or prohibit the advertisement of it. This leads to people categorizing their books as romance or erotic romance to skirt those puritanical restrictions. While the cover and blurb are likely to give you a decent clue about the contents of a book, if you want to be extra sure, you can check out the authors themselves for additional information.

Let’s have a look at genre expectations.

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As you can see there are different genre expectations between romance and erotica, with erotic romance toeing the line between the two. 



  • Sex may or may not be present

  • Sex in romance can be any heat level.

    Anywhere from not mentioned, to fade-to-black, to emotional sex scenes focused on feelings and sensation, to graphic sex. You’re unlikely to find fade-to-black or emotional sex scenes in erotic romance or erotica.

  • Readers will know what is occurring, but the details will usually be sparse

  • Euphemism are common and body parts are generally not explicitly mentioned

  • If sex scenes are removed from a romance novel there may be minimal effect on the overall romantic main plot

  • Kink and sex toys are rarely mentioned

  • Typically 0-2 sex scenes in a romance novel

  • Typically only has relationships between two people
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Erotic Romance

  • Sex will be present

  • Sex in erotic romance is explicit, but not necessarily as raunchy as erotica can get

  • Body parts will be explicitly named

  • Details are plentiful and the reader will know exactly what is going on

  • Sex and romance hold a balance, but the story would feel incomplete if one or the other was removed
  • Kink and sex toys may appear

  • Typically 2-4 sex scenes in an erotic romance

  • May contain relationships with multiple partners


  • Sex is guaranteed*

  • Sex in erotica is graphic and explicit with the goal to arouse the reader, if not get them off, with the words

  • Sex is the core plot element and without the presence of it there is little to the story

  • Kink and sex toys are common elements

  • Typically there are 3+ sex scenes in an erotica, depending on the length of the story

  • More likely to contain relationships with multiple partners

*unless there’s a specific focus on various kinks that don’t require sex but may still be sexual in nature

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Romantic Relationships

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  • Romances are all about the relationship between the characters

  • The romantic relationship is developed through platonic, romantic, and/or sexual encounters

  • The characters must end the story in love

Erotic Romance

  • Erotic romance falls under romance and requires the happily ever after or happy for now

  • The romantic relationship will be developed through the sexual relationship and vice versa

  • The characters must end the story in love
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  • Erotica doesn’t require the characters to have a romantic relationship

  • The characters do not have to end up together in any capacity

  • The characters may end the story in any emotional state

I’ve written all three of these genres under this and other pen names. They each are a delight in their own way and I plan to continue writing them all.  I adore exploring characters, their relationships, and their developing connections to sex and one another. Why do you read these genres? Which do you prefer to read—romance, erotic romance, or erotica? Let me know in the comments. Feel free to leave book recommendations as well. 

Thanks for reading!


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