10 Ways To Make Your Submission Stand Out

Discovering new writing talent is the one of the most exciting things we get to do as editors. But how can you help yourself catch an editor’s eye? Read on for our top tips…

  1. Do your series research! You can pitch an editor a great idea, but if it’s not something we can actually acquire, it’s a wasted opportunity…
  2. Think of your covering letter as a job interview – be professional and enthusiastic, so that we love the idea of working with you in the future.
  3. Synopsis writing is a different skill from writing a manuscript, so treat it as an opportunity to showcase your craft – phrases like ‘my key hooks’, ‘my characters’ emotional conflicts’, and ‘the key emotional turning points’ are like music to our ears!
  4. Remember basics like double spacing your ms and using a readable font – editors don’t have time to faff about reformatting! 😉
  5. Have the correct word count for your series – there’s nothing more off-putting than reading the words ‘this is my 90,000 word romance’ if there’s a 50,000 word limit…
  6. You only have three chapters to grab our attention, so make sure your opening is quick, dramatic and has LOADS of impact.
  7. We love it when a submission starts with a cracking opening line! It can be a piece of short dialogue, a statement, or a line that sets the scene in a concise, intriguing way.  Whatever your preference, make it engaging.
  8. Make us laugh! If it suits the storyline (and the series!), the occasional bit of light humour is a great way to put editors in a good mood. The comedy should never undermine the romance, but it’s hard not to warm to a character who makes us smile J
  9. Give us a reason to care about your characters – you don’t need to tell us all their secrets on page 1, but remember to give readers that all-important emotional access point. (Especially if they’re behaving badly!)
  10. Harlequin editors are romance junkies, so give us some romance! Get your hero and heroine on the page together, striking sparks, ASAP.

Happy Writing!

5 replies on “10 Ways To Make Your Submission Stand Out”

Concise list of advice!
Here is a question I would like to propose.
I read a book based lecture on romance writing from a famous author. How to Write a Romance Novel that Sells (I think?)
In one of the chapters, it dealt with chemistry between characters (drawing together).
What are the best examples of drawing the main characters together (“the force” she called it) while allowing both to grow and change without abandoning their core traits (ex. nobility, taking charge, inquisitiveness)?

I was directed to Harlequin and all its writing resources by a friend who began writing for Harlequin almost 10 years ago. She said the resources and advice back then were excellent, and they still are. I love this blog so much! Thank you for taking the time to keep it engaging and informative!

Thank you for this. I do have a question. I sent in a submission a few weeks ago. I see where you mention “you only have 3 chapters to grab your attention”. When I submitted I sent in the whole manuscript. I didn’t say only send 3 chapters. I sent to the romance/suspense. Did I screw up or will it be Okay? And the synopsis was the worst thing to write. LOL I hope I did okay with that also. I’m waiting to hear back. I’m copying what you wrote above down so I have it for quick reference.

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