Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Writing For Harlequin - Things Scott Looks For In Submissions

We are now approaching the opening of Greyhaus Literary Agency to submissions again. As always, I do want to stress that I do look to acquire authors wanting to write for Harlequin. I jokingly say that, like baseball cards, I want to acquire an author in each of the lines. In any case, with that in mind, I want to provide a few of you some things I look for in authors wishing to write for Harlequin.

Dedication to the company This is a big issue with me. I know there are many authors out there that believe Harlequin is just a "training ground" for people who want to write bigger and better papers. This is far from the case. I am looking for authors who want to really stick to the company and really strive to produce high quality writing for this company.
Despite what many think, writing for Harlequin is much harder than writers think. You have to produce a big story in a very small space. In many ways, this is like Haiku. Writers who succeed at Harlequin really plan on being there for a while.
Knowledge of the lines Again, this is one of those cases where Harlequin is looking for someone to stay around for a while and really build his or her brand in that particular line. For this reason, you need to really know the line you want to target inside and out. Each is very unique and has a special twist to it. Know it and understand it.
Remember though, when I say know the line, I am not talking similar plot lines. The Harlequin lines really speak to voice and focus of the story.
The ability to produce This is a tough one for many authors. Along with writing high quality stories, we are looking for people who know how to do it well in a short period of time. 3 books a year is not uncommon and some produce a lot more. Be ready to work.
It is for this reason, that when I see an author who is interested in writing for Harlequin, and I really do see something in their writing, I want to know if they have other works in progress or completed works that fits that same line. Be prepared to show me.
The ability to take criticism and work with revisions - This is really something not unique to simply Harlequin. We are looking for authors who can take the revision notes from an editor, fix the errors with in a short period of time and do it well. To extend on this, you should only have to be told once. In other words, later projects should certainly incorporate those changes. Remember, these editors know what they are doing and are really working to build your readership.

Remember, Harlequin is not simply about word count. It is about voice and passion for the line. I know I am willing to work with an author, but the question is... are you ready to work?



  1. You do a good job dismissing a sigma?

    Three books a year? That's about four months per book. Considering the ideas I have, I'd probably only be able to publish two per year, at most.

  2. I've written several manuscripts aimed at Harlequin's Special Edition line. I love Harlequin as a company and endeavor to be like Gina Wilkins, or Heidi Betts. A lifer! I currently have one manuscript in with them for their SYTYCW contest.

  3. Yes, but for truly prolific writers, three a year is not that outlandish. Considering that the typical book is on average 77k, it's not unreasonable.

    I write three a year. It's the only way I can get my brain to shut up! LOL!

    I am looking forward to Greyhaus re-opening.

  4. Are you only interested in writers who want to work for Harlequin (I do, but am not there yet)? Or, are you looking for contemporary women's fiction, also?

  5. Karoline,

    I will be looking for other projects besides Harlequin. Still only romance and women's fiction, but I will be open to single title. Make sure to review the submission guidelines on the website.


  6. I could write two to three in a year but I also write for YA. I also write gay romance so I don't know if you are comfortable with that or not.

  7. Vera,
    While Harlequin does have a YA line, I don't represent it. Along the same lines, while you may right gay fiction, this is something Harlequin just hasn't ventured into yet.

  8. That's pretty much what I expected. I'm unpublished and aiming for the Sweet line. I've written one, have the second underway and want three under my belt before I pitch. I think I could do 3 - 4 a year.