Romance Includes You Mentorship FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why is Harlequin offering a mentorship opportunity?

We are actively working to increase diversity, inclusion and representation in our romance publishing program so that readers see themselves reflected in the books we publish. Calling for submissions for this mentorship is one of the ways we are reaching out with our interest in publishing more stories by authors in underrepresented communities.

Who is eligible to make a submission? What do you mean by “underrepresented” authors?

We are interested in submissions by authors of many backgrounds, communities and cultures, including, but not limited to: writers who identify as Black, Indigenous, People of Color, biracial and multiracial; writers in LGBTQ+ communities; members of marginalized ethnic and religious cultures; writers with disabilities; and writers identifying as neurodiverse.

Why are only writers living in Canada and the United States eligible?

For legal and compliance reasons, this opportunity is open to writers living in Canada (excluding Quebec) and the United States and its territories. The previous mentorship submission call in 2021 invited writers in the UK and Ireland to participate and we hope to offer mentorships in more regions in the future. As always, we welcome story submissions from authors anywhere in the world through our regular submission process on

When and where can I make a submission?

We are accepting submissions from January 1 to January 31, 2023, at Please upload it to the Romance Includes You Mentorship submission box after Jan. 1.

Is there an age limit?

Writers must have reached age of majority in their place of residence to apply.

Is there a cost to make a submission?

There’s no fee.

When will the winner be announced?

Submissions will be reviewed in February and shortlisted for final judging in March. We hope to announce the winner in May and get the mentorship underway in early summer.

Can previously published authors and Harlequin authors apply?

Previously published authors are not eligible for this opportunity. We are looking to work with unpublished or self-published authors from underrepresented communities to further broaden diversity and representation reflected in our romance publishing program.

What is meant by “published” authors?

Your submission is eligible if you have not been previously published in print, digital or audio by a commercial publisher. Self-published authors and writers who have published a poem, short story or academic work in a magazine or journal, for example, are eligible.

Can I make multiple submissions for the mentorship?

No. We will accept the first submission we receive from you. Once your submission is uploaded, it cannot be modified.

I’ve submitted a story to Harlequin that is still under consideration. Can I submit the same one for the mentorship opportunity?

No. You can withdraw a submission you’ve already made and resubmit it to the Romance Includes You Mentorship submission box between Jan. 1 and Jan. 31, 2023. 

Can I submit a different story for the mentorship?

Yes, if you have a manuscript on submission already, you can submit a different story for the mentorship.

Can I make simultaneous submissions for the mentorship and another Harlequin imprint I’m targeting?

As long as they are different stories, you can submit for both simultaneously. Please use our regular process to submit a manuscript to the series romance line of your choice via Use the “Romance Includes You Mentorship” submission box for your mentorship submission. Please do not submit the same story twice.

If you are offered a publishing contract for your other submission before the mentorship recipient is announced, you would forfeit your submission for the mentorship program. Our intention is that the mentorship winner will be an unpublished author.

Is Harlequin Special Edition accepting mentorship submissions? Will it reopen for general submissions soon?

We are working to publish more stories by authors in underrepresented communities across all Harlequin romance lines. We are calling for mentorship submissions suitable for all Harlequin Series imprints, including Special Edition.

We know that many writers are interested in submitting to Harlequin Special Edition. We will continue to assess acquisition needs for this line and let authors know if general submissions reopen.

If I’m selected, do I have to finish my novel for publication during the 12-month mentorship period?

We hope that the manuscript can be completed within the 12-month period and your editor will support you to meet this timeline. We understand that this is likely your first novel and flexibility may be needed. 

Where can I find information about Harlequin’s romance lines?

Harlequin’s romance lines and writing guidelines listed on

Why aren’t Carina Press and Carina Adores included in this call for submissions?

We’re particularly interested in writers who want to write category romance for the mentorship. Harlequin’s romance lines offer a wide variety of publishing opportunities for category romance writers. Carina Press accepts unagented submissions in many subgenres any time – you can get more information and make a submission to Carina Press editors here:

What is category romance?

Category romance novels are typically 50,000 to 70,000 words in length. They range from sexy to sweet and are published in a variety of subgenres – contemporary, historical, romantic suspense and more. They are trope-based (think friends to lovers, second chances or forbidden love) with a central love story between the main characters and a guaranteed happily ever after ending. What happens along the way is up to your imagination!

Does Harlequin publish stories with multicultural or diverse characters?

Yes. Harlequin features characters with wide range of racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, genders and sexualities. We believe that readers should see themselves reflected in the books we publish and we are working to increase diversity and representation across our category romance lines.

Does Harlequin publish LGBTQ+ romance?

Yes, Harlequin imprints publish romance stories with LGBTQ+ characters. We are open to romance stories with all gender and identity pairings for the mentorship opportunity.

Are you only accepting romance submissions for adult readers? Can I submit a young adult romance?

We are not accepting submissions for general and young adult fiction and nonfiction in this program. We are looking to work with an author who wants to write in the category romance genre for adult readers. We are offering a publishing contract for one of Harlequin’s 11 series romance lines, which publishes a wide variety of category romance stories.

If I’m selected, can I offer the manuscript completed during the mentorship to another publisher?

No, if you sign a publishing contract with Harlequin then you are under contract with us. If you are selected as the winning candidate, you are under no obligation to accept the mentorship opportunity and publishing contract, and you will be given a chance to review the terms and conditions before signing. 

I’m not eligible for the mentorship program but I would like to submit my romance manuscript to Harlequin. What are my options?

We’re always looking for new talent. We welcome all authors to submit manuscripts through as part of our regular acquisition process. Authors can submit manuscripts directly or through an agent for our series romance lines and Carina Press for consideration.

Are there opportunities to publish with Harlequin for writers with diverse backgrounds who don’t write romance fiction?

Yes. Harlequin has several trade fiction imprints that publish a wide range of fiction and narrative nonfiction through the Harlequin Trade Publishing program. Harlequin welcomes writers from all backgrounds, communities and cultures to submit to us through an agent. Find out more here.

How do you handle the Intellectual Property rights in submissions?

As a creative content company, we are very sensitive about our own Intellectual Property (IP) and respectful of others’. As a condition to be considered for a mentorship, you will be asked to confirm:

  1. That your submission is entirely your own original content;
  2. That you own all rights in the submission; and
  3. That you have not previously sold or licensed those rights to anyone else. 

If we come to believe that any entries are copied, infringe on anyone’s rights or are not yours to offer, this will be grounds for immediate disqualification.

You are the owner of your IP and, if you are not successful in your application, all the rights in your submission will stay with you. If you are successful, the publishing agreement will set out how ownership works going forward and will be consistent with our normal publishing practices. We ask that all applicants note and understand that we are a large company with a wide array of creative voices and content.  It is possible that we have or will have separate works that may resemble your proposal or may have similar themes, plot or characters.  You acknowledge that you will have no rights in any such separately developed works.