Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Queries Again

I guess I am on a roll with query writing this week. Well, here goes another one.

As I stated yesterday, I have had a huge number of authors submitting YA's (yes this was before I closed the submissions... stay with me on this one). In the majority of the cases, the stories were rejected almost immediately simply because the author did not pay attention to what I am acquiring.

If a writer reviews the style of YA that I accept, he or she will notice that it has to fit the Harlequin Teen line. Nothing else. Let me explain by first showing what the specific guidelines are from the Harlequin site:

Length: 50,000–100,000 words
Senior Editor: Natashya Wilson
Editorial Office: New York

Harlequin Teen is…
Fresh, authentic teen fiction featuring extraordinary characters and extraordinary stories set in contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, science-fiction and historical worlds.

We’re looking for commercial, high-concept stories that capture the teen experience and will speak to readers with power and authenticity. All subgenres are welcome, so long as the book delivers a relevant reading experience that will resonate long after the book’s covers are closed. We expect that many of our stories will include a compelling romantic element.

Harlequin Teen is a single-title program dedicated to building authors and publishing unique, memorable young-adult fiction. Stories with the unforgettable romance, characters and atmosphere of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga, the witty humor of Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries novels, the edgy emotion of Jay Asher’s Th1rteen Reasons Why, the thrilling danger of Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games, the futuristic world-building of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies, and the power of Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief are examples of the range and depth of projects that we’re seeking.

Now I post this for one reason. These stories state in two places that there will be a "compelling romantic element." Sending me any story about simply teens is not going to cut it. Sending me picture books and children's book isn't going to work either.

In this case, this is really one of those times when an author needs to do his or her homework. First. to make sure you fully understand and have read the stories the publisher is putting out there. And secondly, make sure that you are meeting the needs of the agent and following their guidelines.



  1. Thank you, Scott, for providing the nuts-and-bolts of the business. I have learned so much from you by "lurking" and even more from responses to my questions now I'm savvy enough and brave enough to ask. From the tone of your blog entries I can tell you genuinely care about writing and helping writers achieve their goals and will answer questions regardless of the level of sophistication.

    That being said, here's one that might be obvious to others, but I'm left wondering!

    I'm just completing my first paranormal manuscript in a first person (most natural for me). I know urban fantasies are primarily first person, but is there a bias one way or another in other categories?

    My mind is already leaping ahead to the next project. Should I continue to write in first person, or tackle the awkward jump to third person?

    I guess it condenses to: will the choice of POV hurt or help you?

  2. Most of the information I've learned on querying suggests a round-robin approach where you only query a small amount of agents at a time, wait for a response, and then repeat firming up the query as suggestions are made.

    Given slush piles must be formidable at the publishing houses that even accept queries from unpubbed, is it advisable to add editors to the round-robin approach or just focus on agents alone?

  3. Great post - I'm hoping to submit to Harlequin Teen too. I just ordered the new one for July, Carrie Pilby, because it seems a lot different from their other stuff. It's gotten some intriguing reviews. I guess you never know!