“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.
 E. L. Doctorow


Spotlight on Harlequin/Silhouette

Note: Harlequin has announced that beginning in Spring 2011, all Harlequin and Silhouette lines will carry the Harlequin imprint. Right now, no announcements of editorial changes have been made. This has been presented as an attempt to build a stronger brand by having all books under the Harlequin imprint.

The Spotlight on Harlequin/Silhouette

Executive Editor Birgit Davis-Todd opened the spotlight and emphasized Harlequin’s desire to find new authors. Harlequin purchased books from 46 new authors last year.  A number of editors then took turn talking about different aspects of Harlequin.

Sr. Editor Joann Grant spoke about author recruitment. Harlequin is the world’s largest publisher. They publish books in paperbook and as ebooks and audio books. The books are published in over 100 international markets and translated into dozens of languages. The editors give personal feedback on submissions. “Series romance is a great place to start your career, to hone your craft and to build a readership.” “To fulfill our publishing program, our editors need to acquire four books a day.” (That isn’t four books for each editor daily, but four books within the Harlequin and Silhouette lines.)

She mentioned that Medical Romance particularly needs submissions right now. If you have a medical background or are familiar with a medical setting, this series line needs you.

Sr. Editor Mary-Theresa Hussey talked about editor training at Harlequin. Editors attend classes and seminars to improve their craft. Harlequin/Silhouette stories need strong characters and strong conflicts. They’re looking for authors with “plenty of ideas”. If you can write three to four books a year, that’s great.  Readers want “focused stories with immediate chemistry between the characters” and a “happily ever after that’s believable.”

Editors took turns talking about debut authors with Harlequin and Silhouette and the reasons their stories were bought. Blaze Senior Editor Brenda Chin goes for a “witty, irreverent voice”.  She talked about using strong voice to craft stories that are fresh, but work within some of the popular miniseries in Blaze such as Wrong Bed and Forbidden Fantasies.

Senior Editor Tina James with Love Inspired Suspense and Love Inspired Historical spoke next. She talked about wanting prolific authors who can stand out in the line by writing new and creative twists that still fit the line. She gave the example of a suspense author who, rather than just writing about cops, wrote about a stunt pilot, a jewel thief, and other unusual heroes and heroines.

Senior Editor Stacy Boyd with Silhouette Desire talked about three things she likes in an author: 1) a willingness to revise, 2) adaptability in her writing and 3) a knowledge of the line she’s targeting. As a new author, you may be asked to work with your editor to revise before your manuscript is accepted.

Kelly Martin, Sr. Editor at Kimani Romance spoke next. She is drawn to very strong storytelling skills, and heroines who take risks in smart ways, capable heroines. Kimani publishes African-American love stories and interracial romances.

Kathleen Schiebling, senior editor of American Romance, looks for humor and energy, authors who can take editorial direction, strong heroes and wonderful small town settings. Developing a relationship with an editor and working with them to develop the story are key.

Linda Fildew, Sr. Editor at Harlequin Mills and Boon, is responsible for Harlequin Romance, Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boone Historical. She often finds authors through contests and encourages authors to enter contests, particularly the Golden Heart. They like to take chances on different historical periods with their historical romance lines.

Jenny Hutton, editor of Harlequin Presents, has found authors through Harlequin sponsored contests such as the I Heart Presents contest in 2009. Harlequin has just launched a New Voices competition, an American Idol style competition with chapters judged by the public and editors. Go to the Romance Is Not Dead website.

Tara Gavin spoke about Harlequin Nocturne. These stories have surprising twists and unpredictable elements. The editors here really like books that stand alone, but hold the chance for mini-series – brothers, sisters, friends and other relationships that can be spun off into more books. Writing for Nocturne Bites, the short (15,000 word) e-stories, is a good way to break into this line.

You do not have to have an agent to write for Harlequin. Editors welcome submissions and read all submissions. Find guidelines for all the Harlequin and Silhouette category romance lines on their website.


Aspen Mountain Press’s new Aurora Regency Historical imprint launched this week. Aurora will be re-releasing all my historical romances as ebooks. First one up, A Willing Spirit. The editors are actively looking for more books to publish — historical romance and traditional Regency romance. They’re open to new authors and to established authors who have a backlist they want to publish in e-format. Check out their guidelines here.