Yes, we know- our categories are not like other contests. It's kind of confusing.
But then, the Royal Ascot is not like other contests. To begin with, the Beau Monde, being a specialty interest group with concentration on the Regency Era, limits its contest to Regency entries. But we want to encourage all authors who write about the Regency Era, regardless of their unique slant on it.
At the same time, having more than one or two categories gives authors who are approaching the Regency from unusual directions a better chance to compete. And it gives the coordinators, who would otherwise have one very large and unruly category, a better perspective.
We decided to divide our categories largely by the levels of sensuality. Judges tend to have sensuality preferences, and contestants might feel they have a better chance when being judged by authors who like the kind of story they are entering. To even this out even more, judges are asked to express their specific preferences, so that a judge who doesn't want to read certain kinds of stories won't be getting those entries. Hopefully this pleases everyone.
But how do you know where your story belongs? What if it's a really hot historical? Should you enter in Hot & Wild or Regency Historical? Historicals are for the most part pretty hot right now.
What if you've got a story that doesn't have a lot of sex, or none, but doesn't have a traditional Regency tone? Is it sweet, but you threw in a love potion? Potentially it might fit in any of the categories. And what if it's a very strong paranormal, but without love scenes? Would you get disqualified if the judges disagree with your choice?
First, no, we're not going to disqualify anyone for "Wrong Category". You are the one who gets to decide where to enter your manuscript. Judges will not judge on "Wrong Category", or even take off points for it. If we really think you're wrong, we'll contact you and talk about putting it in a more appropriate category.
Second, keep in mind that the Hot & Wild and Sweet & Mild categories are almost always much smaller than the Regency Historical. Fewer entries in a category increases the chances of finalling for each entry in the category.
But back to choosing. Some entries are going to be pretty easy decisions. Some aren't. Here's my suggestion:
Hot & Wild:
All Erotic Regencies should go in this category.
Very Sensual Regencies.
Paranormals where the paranormal elements are strong and dominant, particularly if the story couldn't exist without the paranormal elements.
Sweet & Mild:
Stories without explicitly written sex scenes, although sexual tension can be high.
Young Adult Regencies.
These are the general market stories.
They can have a sensual level varying from light through very sensual.
Paranormal elements would probably not be dominant in these stories.
But what about more mainstream stories, where the romance is a major element but not really the story's focus? I'd say, go for matching it up with the sensuality level. But violence? That's another question. We'd have to talk about it.
I'd also suggest looking at the final round judges and the types of stories they are likely to buy. That will often tell you where your story will best fit. If none of the judges is acquiring your type of story, and you reach the final round, we'll do everything we can to find an additional editor who acquires in your sub-genre to read but not judge your manuscript. All final round judges are instructed to make their placement decisions on the quality of the stories and not on whether or not the stories are the kinds they can acquire.
If you still can't decide, then send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll talk about your specific story to help you decide where your story has the best chance.