Harlequin Heartwarming Author - You could be next!
How to avoid turning off an editor in your #HWBlitz submission
The Harlequin Heartwarming acquisitions blitz starts today and our editors can’t wait to get reading—there’s nothing like a 20-day author feedback turnaround to light a fire under us! And don’t worry if you haven’t finished a full manuscript, we’re only looking for a partial and a synopsis. We’re taking this one step at a time: If we like what we see, we’ll request the full and then the deadline is as fast—or as slow—as you can write.
We’re acquiring clean, character-driven contemporary romances, 70,000 words long, where the romance is the most exciting part of the book and where a motivated hero and heroine sweep readers along on their unpredictable, roller-coaster of emotions to reach a happy ending.
I use the term “clean” to convey that our books focus on deeply emotional attraction rather than physical passion (our hero watches the heroine walk away, for instance, not the heroine’s butt as she walks away!) and that there’s no sex in the current story between unmarried characters. Plus, we’re also careful of language.
I avoid the term “sweet,” which is widely recognized as a romance without sex, but often propels authors toward a story with a more sugary, polite journey to a happy ending, which is predictable…and a little dull. We want authors to make their characters struggle, rough them up! We’re looking for stories where readers will wonder how on earth the pair will end up together. Clean stories need to be just as exciting as sexy.
4 editor turn-offs
1. The only obstacle to love is an external threat. The main characters are victims of the action (parental manipulation, an ex’s lies, a mistaken reputation, a crazed killer…) rather than being independent and driven. We want characters to be responsible for the predicaments they’re in.
2. Wonderfully fleshed-out characters who become predictable as they feel immediate attraction and physical appreciation upon meeting their romantic counterpart, and from that moment on are driven by the attraction, not by what they wanted before the story began. That’s too easy! Romance needs to come at a high cost to the characters.
3. The life-in-danger crisis at the end of the story that makes characters realize love is most important (and this is the kind of thing we’ll look for in your synopsis in a partial proposal). It can work, but is it unexpected? Does it feel woven into character development or an easy resolution?
4. The conversation from a more experienced secondary character (mom, dad, bff, sibling) at the end that makes lead characters realize love is most important. This can make an ending feeling rushed and too easy.
1 editor turn-on
1. Above-average writing in the opening chapters is a DEFINITE editor turn-on, and it’s usually obvious immediately…and makes me sit up. What makes writing stand out: specific details that are fresh and often surprising; a confidence that readers will get the point that’s being made on much less (showing something without also explaining it in internalization or opening in the middle of characters’ lives without explaining everything that has led up to this moment); a reasonable balance between action, dialogue, internalization and description.
Check out our editor wish list http://bit.ly/1UWsqZO and our writing guidelines https://harlequin.submittable.com/submit/28677 for more information.
Submit to the Harlequin Heartwarming blitz before Fri., April 22, 2016, and receive feedback from us within 20 business days after the submission period closes…and good luck! http://harlequin.submittable.com/submit/55704
Victoria Curran, Senior Editor @victoriacurran2
Do you have a clean, emotionally satisfying contemporary romance that celebrates community, family connections and true love? If so—we would love to see it! We publish romance novels that are 70000 words, but do not have sex scenes. Romantic sparks—yes. Chemistry and attraction—a must. We also ask our authors to deliver engaging plots and subplots, realistic and appealing characters and a deeply moving love story. Heartwarming novels are warm, poignant and rich.
No explicit religious or Christian content. No paranormals, please.
Submission dates: Monday, April 4th – Friday, April 22nd at 11:59 p.m. EST
Writing tips: Follow the #HWBlitz hashtag on Twitter for exclusive content, helpful hints and more!
What Harlequin Heartwarming needs to see:
- A cover letter that introduces your book and includes any previous publishing credits, writing contest wins, or affiliations.
- A 4 – 6 page synopsis. What happens in your book—tell us the key moments, the crucial twists and turns, and how it ends! Show us what drives your story forward, including the internal and external conflicts your hero and heroine face to get to their happily ever after.
- The first chapter of your manuscript (up to 25 pages).
What you get:
- A quick response! Skip the slush pile and hear back from Harlequin within 20 business days after the submission period ends.
- Editorial feedback for every Heartwarming appropriate story received.
- The possibility of having your novel published in Harlequin’s Heartwarming romance line.
Heartwarming writing guidelines: https://harlequin.submittable.com/submit/28677
Where to submit: Visit http://harlequin.submittable.com/submit/55704