I refer to the need for learning to punctuate properly because in a work of art punctuation often plays the part of musical notation and can’t be learned from a textbook; it requires instinct and experience.” –– Anton Chekov

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This week I continue my recaps of the publisher spotlights at the Romance Writers of America annual conference in New York City, with a look at the Spotlight on Harlequin Single Title

The session was moderated by Malle Valick, and was presented in a Q&A format. The panel consisted of Susan Swinwood, Executive Editor of HQN Books; Nicole Brebner, Executive Editor with Mira Books; and Natasha Wilson, Executive Editor for Harlequin Teen; Michelle Renaud, Director of Romance Publicity and Events; and Amy Jones Marketing Director for Mira and Harlequin Teen. Harlequin has three single-title imprints: Harlequin HQN, Mira and Harlequin Teen.

Mira publishes general fiction, including women’s fiction. In women’s fiction, they are interested in multi-layered, often multi-generational stories. Romance may be part of the story but is not at the central core of the story. HQN focuses on romance, publishing all sub-genres – historical, contemporary, paranormal, suspense, etc.

Susan talked about trends in romance – she sees sports heroes and heroes in the music business as well as the urban west as a setting. Billionaire stories are still very popular, and shorter editorial (novellas) are growing in popularity.

Nicole mentioned that very dark stories and psychological suspense remain popular, there an increased demand for lighter stories.

Natasha spoke about trends in teen stories – she sees science fiction and space opera, as well as environmental-disaster based stories as becoming more popular. Horror is popular with teens right now. Also, diverse characters are always welcome and popular with readers.

The editors next talked about things they see too much of that will have a hard time of being accepted. Mentioned were dystopian stories, paranormal stories, and new adult stories as things that will have a hard time standing out in the crowd and getting accepted in the current market. Urban settings are become more popular as the list of small-town romances and women’s fiction becomes saturated.

On the historical front, Mira publishes historical novels, while HQN publishes historical romance. The market for historicals is strong right now.

The next topic was pitching to editors. The panel stressed researching the publisher and knowing what they publish. Be able to summarize your story concisely (the 30-second elevator pitch was mentioned). Be able to tell the editor what makes your story unique. If a publisher already publishes five western romance authors, how are you different? What will attract readers to your book? Talk about your platform, if you have one – a blog with a lot of followers, a big social media presence, etc.

Malle asked the editors to describe a book they would love to publish. Nicole would love an epic historical novel that covers an interesting era in time and is filled with drama and emotion. Susan wants “a great big love story” – something modern, with a fresh voice, that captures the excitement and passion of falling in love. Maybe it’s told in a different way – in first person perhaps. Natasha would love to see something that feels different from anything else on their list.

The next question Malle posed was “Why publish with Harlequin?” The panelists cited Harlequin’s global reach, the company’s reputation as romance experts, and a team approach to producing books.

Most of the rest of the spotlight was taken up with questions from audience members, which included how to engage on social media, the author/editor relationship, would the editors be interested in a book about xyz? If you are interested in any of these things, by all means buy a copy of this workshop (available through RWA for members only). I’m not going to summarize all of that here because those things aren’t really the scope of this blog.

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Evernight Publishing is a digital publisher of romance, erotic romance and urban fantasy. The editors are open to submissions of 5,000 to 10,000 words for anthologies, 8,000 to 14,000 words for their Romance on the Go series, 15,000 to 35,000 word Naughty Fairy Tales, 25,000 to 50,000 word Planet Alpha Stories and any other manuscripts of 15,000 to 100,000 words that fall into the categories of urban fantasy, romance or erotic romance. Authors in anthologies receive 50% net royalties; all others receive 45% net royalties. Check out their submission guidelines here.

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Harlequin is having its biggest ebook sale ever through November 17th. Get all series backlist titles for only $1.99. You can snag all my backlist from Intrigue, Blaze, Superromance, Heartwarming, American Romance and more!

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Blue Mountain Arts is seeking prose and poetry for Mother’s Day themed greeting cards. They want writing that captures genuine emotion related to relationships with mothers, step-mothers, grandmothers and mother figures, but they specifically do not want religious themed submissions. They accept both email and snail mail submissions and pay $300 per greeting card, or $500 is they decide to use your work in a themed gift book. The deadline for Mother’s Day submissions is December 12, 2015. For more details go here.

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The Quantum Shorts contest invites writers to submit a short story of no more than 1,000 words, inspired by quantum physics. There is no fee to enter the competition, and the first prize is $1500. The People’s Choice winner receives $1000, a special youth winner receives $100 and the authors of second and third place stories receive $1000 and $500. You can read all the rules and link to a page of inspirations and read past winning stories here. The deadline to enter is December 1, 2015.

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As always, feel free to share the information in this blog with others. Repost, reprint, retweet, etc. Please give me credit as the source of the information and include a link to this blog. For more about me, visit my websites here and here, or check me out on Facebook

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