Submitting Category Romance

You decided to try your hand at writing category (series) romance. You did your homework and read the kind of books you want to write. You wrote something you feel is good enough to submit, and now you're ready to send it off.

Before you put that baby you've slaved over for months and maybe even years into the mail, go over a few things before you take that trip to the local post office.

Harlequin Enterprises is currently the only category romance print publisher. If you're still unsure about guidelines for category and this is your first submission, check out the Writing Guidelines at eHarlequin. There's a wealth of information there for the new and the seasoned writer. Among the information there is the following:

  1. Harlequin is not accepting unsolicited complete or partial manuscripts. You'll need to query!
  2. Make certain you have the right story for the right line. It can't hurt to reread those guidelines one more time, especially manuscript word length. Also keep in mind that Harlequin now uses computer count to determine length, not the old average of 250 lines per page.
  3. Contact information for editors you'll be submitting to is there at your fingertips. Remember to correctly spell the editor's name in your query!
  4. There are editor podcasts available to watch that can give more details about what the editors are looking for.

There are 11 Harlequin lines, 4 Kimani lines, 5 Silhouette lines, 3 Steeple Hill lines, 2 shorts lines, and 3 "bigger book" imprints. Yes, there is a difference between each and every one of them, but if you've done your homework (you've read, read, read and checked out those guidelines), then you're ready to submit.

When it comes to query letters, you want to be brief and stick to giving the information editors are looking for. Be sure to include the line you're targeting, the word count (approximate) of your manuscript and if it's finished, a brief blurb about the story, and end with your writing credentials. When you're satisfied that everything is in tip top shape, it's time to send off the query.

How long will it take to hear a reply? That's probably the question of the century. ::grin:: Editors do try to get back to you with a reply as quickly as possible, but editors these days are overloaded with work. In the past, six weeks was an average time. If you've been waiting six months, it's time to send a note or to call the editor and ask.

Don't just sit and think about what the reply will be. Keep busy! Finish the manuscript, polish it, or get busy writing something new. The old saying is as true with submissions as it is with all else in life. A watched pot never boils.

Good luck!

(My apologies for what probably is a very confusing blog post. My grandson gave me whatever it is he has--cold, flu, something--and the brain just isn't functioning. I hope, at least, you all get the drift!)


Reese Mobley said...

Even with a foggy head you are full of information. All we have to do is ask. Thanks Rox. I hope you get to feeling better soon.

Joan Vincent said...

Your information is clear and concise--just what a person wanting to submit needs to know. Great job especially with a cold. Feel better soon!

Starla Kaye said...

Excellent post! I didn't know Harlequin was the only house currently doing category romance, at least for print publishing. I don't read them or write them, but I am happy to learn this news.

Penny Rader said...

Thanks, Rox. Hope you feel better!

The part about submitting to Harlequin that has always confused me is mailing the submissions that have to go to the Canadian office and getting the right kind of return postage included.

Rox Delaney said...


It would be nice if all publishers would accept submissions by email. I expect it will happen before too long.

The Harlequin offices in Toronto are going more electronic all the time. I've always had to mail in my full manuscripts when the book is done, but with the latest one, my agent told me not to bother mailing and to send it in an email. She read it and sent it on to my new editor. I guess there's hope yet.

P.S. I never submitted to Toronto, so I never had to figure out the return postage. Since they rarely write anything on the submission itself, I don't know why a business size envelope with standard postage for a return letter wouldn't work. I seriously doubt the letter would require extra postage. But that's just my take on it.