What are heat levels?
Heat levels depend on where you publish but for the most part they fall into 3 general categories. These would be Sweet, Medium, Hot. Understanding these terms as both a reader and a writer is essential when looking at romance books. The levels make sure you get exactly what you want without overstepping any boundaries you are not comfortable with. As a writer, it’s important to know where your manuscript sits in these levels so an editor can accurately analyze it for the right audience.
SWEET: These books focus more on the emotional change in characters. Any explicit scenes are alluded to, but when it comes time for clothes to come off the author politely closes the door and sends you to the next scene (usually the next day) and the aftereffects of the physical intimacy.
MEDIUM: The widest range, medium can be anything in between the closed door scenes all the way to the explicit scenes. Publishers tend to have 2-3 different heat levels in hear like Subtle, Moderate, Sensual, etc. These books will have an even mix of emotional and physical intimacy, unlike erotica which has more physical intimacy.
HOT: These books tend to be Erotica where the sex scenes are explicit and nothing is left to the imagination. Usually, within the first few chapters, the couple is already having sex or something very explicit. In the hot section, there is a range of subgenres: BDSM, Threesomes, etc.
Now that you have an idea of the heat levels in romance, be aware that each publisher (like HarperImpulse) has their own heat structure. Just check out their guidelines and you’ll know where you sit.