We have the power and the choice to write – and rewrite – our own life stories.
As writers, we can change our life and literary narrative simultaneously by expanding our writing and publishing options. I’d like to challenge you to think and write outside the box.
If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, or have bought my course, Wake Up Your Prose: Description Unpacked, you will know that I am not a fan of Harlequin Romances. In fact, it’s my favorite publishing house to make fun of.
I learned that Harlequin has several extremely diverse imprints – which means several new opportunities for getting published! Aaaand… they welcome both established and beginning writers! Furthermore, the Harlequin folks promise that they read every single manuscript submitted to them.
Here’s what Harlequin has to say:
We are committed to publishing for our diverse global readership, and are actively seeking to acquire underrepresented authors, as well as stories which explore underrepresented perspectives on popular time periods.
I hear opportunity knocking.
Harlequin has 12 imprints that accept un-agented manuscripts, called “Harlequin Series.” This is great news for all of us. The bad news: They’re all in the Romance category – but there’s a range with regard to how rangy the books can be. These imprints publish only series books (which means you get to write more than one!). The names are hilarious, and some of the plots are way over the top and a bit embarrassing – to say nothing of the covers. But on the other hand, the enterprising Bulletproof Writing devotee might not want to write them off completely. (And you can always use a pseudonym.)
Here are the 12 categories in the Harlequin Series:
- Medical Romance
- Harlequin Presents (M&B True Love)
- M&B Modern
- Romantic Suspense
- Special Edition
- Love Inspired
- Love Inspired Suspense
Don’t ask me what “M&B” means; I couldn’t even get Google to give me a straight answer.
These twelve imprints range from super-explicit sex to Christian themes with no sex. And everything in between. But the bottom line is that Romance needs to be the leitmotif of each and every book.
According to the article in Writer’s Digest, Harlequin “provides very detailed ‘key elements’ they wish to see in books for each series, including word count, how explicit to get with the romance, whether the hero should be a billionaire alpha male, and other very specific details (while leaving room for creativity).”
So glad they leave room for creativity.
In any case, let’s explore a couple of these, from the raciest to the tamest.
“The heat level is explicit and described in straightforward, non-euphemistic language.”
“Passionate, dramatic and intense—a window into the world of the American elite, where the yearning of powerful men and dynamic women heightens as the drama unfolds!”
This category comprises “clean, sweet, feel-good stories that readers can share with friends and family of all ages…with a focus on family and community.” Heroes are everyday types with traditional values. Although it can’t be Harlequin without romance, just make sure it’s clean romance.
This imprint is actively looking to accept manuscripts from authors who belong to “underrepresented” communities. They would also like to publish more novels whose characters come from underrepresented communities. They want heroes to be alpha males, and their heroine needs to “emotionally challenge the hero, and inspire reader sympathy.”
You can get the rest of the scoop about each specific category by clicking here. Scroll all the way down the page to get information on Harlequin Series imprints.
Other Harlequin options
In addition to the Harlequin Series, there is one other imprint that accepts un-agented submissions: Carina Press.
Harlequin also has several imprints that must be submitted by agents, and from my research they seem to be a bit more conservative. Their covers are much less racy, too. Many of the books I explored on the Harlequin Website have been showcased by Amazon, so they’re a bit more mainstream.
Here are the imprints that require agents. Explore each one’s list, and see if you have a book idea that would fit their vision:
- Park Row Books (their literary fiction imprint)
- Graydon House (women’s commercial fiction)
- Inkyard Press (young adult in a variety of genres)
- HQN Books (romance, various genres)
- MIRA books (“binge-worthy reads”)
- Hanover Square Press (“fascinating stories of our world that readers can’t wait to talk about”)
The point of this article is to show you that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Even the one publishing house everyone loves to hate might just be your ticket to publishing fame.
Think outside the box. Research a variety of publishing opportunities, and keep an open mind. Most important: Start mapping out your next writing project!
You might just find yourself the recipient of that golden acceptance letter.
Much luck to you, and