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How To Write For The Biggest Romance Market

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Writing romance for Harlequin-Mills & Boon is one of the most lucrative forms of fiction writing. According to the entry in The Writer’s Handbook, they have a network of 12,000 authors worldwide and every title scores six-figure sales, providing a good income for those who can adapt to the clearly defined HM&B formula. The publishing house has a number of imprints (contemporary, medical, historical, thriller, paranormal, erotica, etc.,) which account for about three-quarters of the romance paperbacks published in Britain.
What you'll need: 
A completed typescript of 50-55,000 words
1: 
Read a selection of recently published HM&B books, which are usually available second-hand from your local charity shop or e-bay. By reading a selection of books from each imprint you’ll find the series you like best, and this is the one you should write for.
2: 
The editors for each series have their own written guidelines that are available from the website. Some are more specific than others depending on the particular slant each imprint has for its titles. These guidelines are available on request by emailing submissions@hmb.co.uk
3: 
HM&B typescripts are much shorter than standard mainstream novels. The finished story should be between 50-55,000 words.
4: 
Because this is romance, the story is character-driven and requires two ‘strong, appealing, sympathetic and three-dimensional’ protagonists. Keep secondary characters to a minimum. And there must be a happy ending.
5: 
Introduce an element of conflict along the familiar boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl scenario. This can be due to personality clashes, misunderstanding or ambition to create on-going tension and excitement – but it must be believable.
6: 
Ensure that the dialogue adds pace, serves a purpose and reflects the personality of the individual characters - it's no good if it's just filling space.
7: 
Send the first three chapters and a synopsis of the storyline, giving a clear outline of the plot and characters: the synopsis should not exceed two pages. Your covering letter needs to include pertinent biographical details and any previous publishing experience. State clearly which series the proposal is aimed at, and whether the typescript is completed.
8: 
All typescripts must be double-spaced and each page numbered. Your name and the title of the book should appear in the upper left-hand corner of every page.
9: 
HM&B now accept submissions by email as a Word document attachment. Send to submissions@hmb.co.uk
10: 
Because there are several different imprints it is important to state for which series or editor the typescript is intended. This should be stated clearly in the covering letter AND on the front of the typescript.
Conclusion: 
Successful HM&B authors have a very long shelf-life with their books being translated into numerous languages to be sold around the world. If you enjoy reading and writing romance, there could be a contract waiting for you.
Tips: 
The M&B ‘Meet the Editors’ podcast is also available from eharlequin.com
Warnings: 
Multiple and simultaneous submissions are not acceptable.
References: 

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