Harlequin First Page Feedback!

pens for opening

Thanks to the feedback we’ve gotten for here and for SoYouThinkYouCanWrite, we’re going to do a series of “First Page” critiques/feedback on this site.

We’re accepting submissions until Friday, June 13th, then closing until we’re able to work through the projects sent in.

Please go to SOLD! Blog Feedback to submit your 500 word opening!

Depending on the number of entries received, we’ll be posting one or two a week (probably on Monday and Wednesday) until we work through them all.

If it’s a success and useful, we will continue–or perhaps switch to a short synopsis if that seems wanted.

Looking forward to seeing just how you can craft those opening lines–and check back tomorrow for another old memo discussing some ways to look at openings!



46 replies on “Harlequin First Page Feedback!”


I think one entry per person for now–we want to give everyone who enters a chance to submit something.

Yes–we’ll be posting the pages for all to see on this site, along with the comments from the various editors. When you submit it, you can choose what name or info you want shown.

We’ve got about five entries so far after just a few hours, so we’ll see how many we get by the end of next week!

I’m so excited about this! I have subbed one manuscript a couple of times (both requested fulls), and while the feedback was helpful, it wasn’t specific to the opening. I’m entering a couple of contests and trying to get more specific feedback on what’s working and what’s not. This seems like a great opportunity to get much needed feedback from editors–and get used to critique! Love this idea. I’ll be sure to submit something.

Sounds wonderful! We’ve got over 20 submissions so far, so we’ll have a lot of variety as we review them over the next couple of weeks/months!


No rules–we’re just hoping to get some examples of various openings and offering some feedback in return. Hopefully it will make writers think some more about those chapters and see what they can do!

To be clear, you are Just looking for openings, not the openings of completed manuscripts that we’re seeking publication for. Right?


We’re open to works in progress and completed manuscripts.

It’s not a contest where winners will be selected. The goal here isn’t to ask for the complete manuscript, so we’re not restricting it. We’re just going to give some top of the mind feedback on some opening lines.

The feedback we received from SOLD! and SYTYCW is that authors appreciate some direct points about what works and doesn’t work in the opening.

Don’t worry–it isn’t expected to be a complete scene with a strong closer. Just what would be on the first page or so.

Hopefully we’ll want to keep turning the page to find out what happens next, but there aren’t rules about how it needs to end!

When you ask the question have you submitted to Harlequin before does that include SYTYCW? Which I have, however, not to Harlequin directly,since you only want a yes or no answer.
Thank you.

I sent my opening to the First Page Challenge last year and was thrilled with the advice I got. Well worth doing it!

I have a quick question: can we submit an opening to a teen novel, as you have the Harlequin Teen line? Thanks!


If it’s just SYTYCW, then probably a “no” would be best, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. We’re just trying to find out how many people are new to writing/us, and how many have been working toward publishing for a while.


Fantastic! I’m glad it was useful, and hope that others find it so. It is hard to make a decision on just a few paragraphs, but the main thing to take away is if there’s enough there to make someone turn the page. 🙂


Yes, any genre can be submitted for the first page feedback, though the majority of editors and projects do focus on the series lines.

We’ve got over fifty entries so far–it’s going to take a while to get through them, but we’ve already assigned a few, so will be starting to do two or three a week from Tuesday on! Thanks for all the enthusiasm!

I’m feeling a bit dense, but I’m not understanding the file naming convention required. I understand title and author, but not so sure what the lineinitials and ms are:


Okay, is Lineinitials referring to which line of story you are writing for? Still not sure about ‘ms’ yet.

So glad I am not the only one I was thinking the same Lineintials eg HP- Harlequin Present. MS – Manuscript is that for full word count?

Whoops! Didn’t mean for it to be confusing.

Yes, Line Initials is for the series it’s aimed at. If not series, the genre, so we have an idea of what the project is. So yes, HP for Harlequin Presents, TEEN for Teen, LIS for Love Inspired Suspense, thriller for thriller and so forth. As we’ve said, we’re mostly looking for series, but for this feedback we’re a little more open.

Title/Author are clear.

For the last, the form is adapted from our normal submission process and we wanted to know if it’s the manuscript, the proposal, the synopsis or query. So MS would be a full manuscript.

Don’t worry about that part for this portion. I’ll see about going back and rewording it for the next group.

Thanks for your patience!

So, if I were to submit for Harlequin Historical Romance I would put HH? Is this correct? I want to make sure I am doing this properly. Thank you for the help.

Just wanted to say, what a fabulous idea. Well done. I wish more publishers would offer this opportunity.

Hopefully it is helpful to the volunteers, and also to others who are seeing what some feedback is like.

The amount of feedback will vary according to the material–some might be detailed and some might be brief.

It looks like we’ll be doing three a week for the next few months, and I’ll send out an email from Submittable the week the posting will go up.

Please be patient–we’ve got over 100 submissions so far, with another five days to go, but editors are busy reading and thinking on the projects. 🙂

Thanks to all of you as well!

yes–our main focus will hopefully be all the Harlequin category/series lines, including the Harlequin E program. So send it in–though as I said above, it might be a while!

Thank you for this opportunity! I submitted to SYTYCW/KISS last year. I’m thinking about submitting to Shivers for SYTYCW this year. Really looking forward to reading everyone’s feedback to gain better understanding of the editorial review process.

CA–yes, for the most part they will be posted in the order we received them. I’ve got the first fifteen or so out with various editors, so they might be a few out of order, but not by much.

I’d say it’s probably best not to submit to both–the same editors will probably be reading them! 🙂

First one is now posted–good luck to all!

So let’s say, hypothetically of course, that someone accidentally pulled a dingbat move and submitted their first page through the regular submissions section, and not the First Page Feedback-specific section. Would that person want to resubmit through the right section, or would that just look like a duplicate entry? Thank you! 🙂

a great hypothetical question! 🙂 I’d say withdraw and resubmit through the right section. The hypothetical editor organizing the feedback has everything sorted in the “Sold” category and can’t track other categories for this as well.

The joy of the Submittable website is that it’s very easy to withdraw and resubmit! 🙂


Yep, HH for Harlequin Historicals, and HHW for Harlequin Heartwarming (we do try not to duplicate initials, but sometimes can’t resist because it’s the perfect name!). 🙂

Are you evaluating manuscripts in any particular order or appeal? By date for instance or reviewing the more promising manuscripts first?


we’re going pretty much in order date–the first day’s submissions will be going up in the first two weeks or so. I’ve recruited more editors to help out, so there might be few that go out of order, but that’s dependent on when I get responses.

We had over 130 submissions in the ten days we were open, so it will take a little while to get to all of them.

I’ve been emailing the authors that they are scheduled for the following week, so they know to keep an eye out!

Thanks for the enthusiasm!

Hi Mary-Theresa,
I’m sorry, I’ve missed the page where the entries are being posted, could I trouble you to post a link again?

Thank you!

Have I missed where the first page entries have been posted? I have received a confirmation of receipt but have heard nothing since.

we’ve been posting the feedback on this site, but doing about four or five a week. I’m doing some and I’ve recruited other editors for specific lines to get the best feedback possible!

(if you want to search for “First Page Feedback” you can find the ones we’ve done so far–or just move forward along the posts.)

We’ve also been trying to respond in the order they were received to keep things fair.

I have been sending out an email to authors letting them know the day–or week–the feedback will be posted. Yours should be coming up in the next few weeks.

Stay tuned!


Not quite sure what you’re referring to–unless it’s the Submittable process?

What I’ve been doing is “declining” the submission with the date that the feedback will appear on this website.

Until I do it, it’s listed as “new” or “in progress” or such when it gets assigned or sent back to me.

does that make sense?

I made a submission to this feedback contest on June 6, 2014, but I never got an email. And I can’t find my submission on the site. Were there some that just did not get published? And if so, can I find out? Thank you for the help.

Hi, I’m in the same predicament as Angela! I submitted my first page of C the last Welsh Witch, and didn’t receive an email to notify me of its appearance on your site with the critique. I also cannot find it listed? I would like to know if there were some that simply didn’t get chosen, cheers.

Oops, I don’t know why but the word disappeared.

The title of my book is called Capturing the last Welsh Witch! 🙂

I also submitted my first page. I seem to recall getting an email saying that they received it, but it hasn’t been posted yet, either.

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