Cindy Myers is kind enough to share the happenings at the RWA Conference. Here's her scoop:
I'll start today with my own publisher, Harlequin Books. They report that category romance sales are swinging up, with foreign sales increasing as well. And they're looking for new authors. This is Harlequin's 60th Anniversary year, so look for special events and promotions in all the lines.
Harlequin has three acquisition offices, in New York, Toronto and London. Approximately 1200 authors write for Harlequin. Harlequin books are published in 29 languages on 6 continents. More information on the company and guidelines for the lines mentioned below may be found at http://www.eHarlequin.com. (For writer's guidelines, scroll to the very bottom of the page and click on Writing Guidelines.)
Harlequin American celebrates its 25th anniversary as a line this year. Senior Editor Kathleen Schiebling spoke about this line, which features "romances about the pursuit of love and family." American books must have a family element. These books are known for their strong sense of place. They may be set in small towns or big cities. Secondary characters play a big part but can't take over the story. The tone of the books in this line ranges from light comedy to serious drama. Popular themes include blended families and babies and pregnancies. Readers of this line love book set in the American west featuring ranchers, cowboys, and rodeo riders. The heroes in American romances have a strong desire for family. 55,000 - 60,000 words. 4 books a month. Submit to Kathleen in Harlequin's Toronto office.
Senior Editor Patience Smith spoke about Silhouette Romantic Suspense. SRS books focus on the romance of two people thrust into extraordinary circumstances. These are larger-than- life stories which include elements of suspense and danger, but the emphasis is always on the love story. Examples of movies with this type of story are The Thomas Crowne Affair and The Big Easy. Romantic Suspense books "pack a punch from the very beginning and carry through to the end." Popular character types and themes include brides, babies, westerns, military and law enforcement. SRS editors love international settings. While characters may have psychic abilities, they don't want any other paranormal elements. These stories are also 55,000 to 60,000 words. 4 books a month. Send your submissions to Patience, Shayna Smith or Natasha Wilson in Harlequin's New York office.
Senior Editor Kimberley Young was not at the conference, so Linda Fildew provided the details for the Harlequin Romance line. Harlequin Romance has roots in the original Mills and Boon romances. These 50,000 to 55,000 word stories "capture the initial rush of falling in love." The focus is on the hero and heroine. A happy ending is required, but that doesn't have to mean a wedding or marriage proposal at the end of the book. Sex is allowed in these books, but it shouldn't be explicit. Characters should be "contemporary and realistic, but classically romantic." The stories must have emotional depth. Examples of movies with the type of stories they're looking for are Love, Actually; The Holiday and Knocked Up. Heroes in Romance books are contemporary and strong, not weak. They're someone you'd like to have as a friend. The hero should be a modern man. He can be slightly larger than life, a bit of a fantasy figure. Conflict should drive the relationship, but the plot of the book can't override the romance. Don't include too many secondary characters. These books have a global appeal, so international settings are welcome. They publish 6 books a month. Send the first three chapters and a synopsis to Kimberley Young or Meg Lewis in Harlequin's London office.
Silhouette Desire books are "powerful, passionate and provocative. " These stories are pure romantic escapism. The hero of a Desire is powerful and wealthy, an alpha male who may be arrogant and entitled, direct but not cruel. He's not too sensitive or weak. The heroine is strong-willed and smart, but capable of making mistakes, especially when it comes to love. These stories are more conflict-driven than character-driven. They are dramatic and intense. Popular themes are revenge, reunions, secret babies and marriages of convenience, office romances and new dads. The editors aren't interested in suspense, paranormal or character-driven stories. The stories should contain a moderate to high level or sensuality and one love scene is required. 50,000 words. 6 books a month. Submit to Melissa Jeglinski or Shayna Smith in the New York office.
Kimani Press is one of the newest additions to the Harlequin family. Kimani publishes a wide variety of books featuring African-American stories, from YA in Kimani Tru to the traditional romance of Arabesque. Senior Editor Kelly Martin shared details of Kimani Romance, which publishes 4 books a month. These 55,000 - 60,000 word stories vary from drama, to humor, romantic suspense and some interracial romances. This year there is an increased focus on mini-series within the line featuring families or themes. According to Kelly, there are four hallmarks of a Kimani Romance: 1) contemporary settings and characters. These books feature the experiences of today's women. 2) high sensuality, but always tasteful. 3) the heroes are successful good guys. Heroines are career women committed to bettering their lives. 4) intense focus on the romantic relationship. Submit your work to Kelly in the New York office.
Harlequin Superromance publishes 6 books a month, 60,000-65,000 words. Senior Editor Wanda Ottewell is looking for "gripping, believable romance with emotional depth and complexity and believable and sustainable conflict." She cautioned that bickering and sniping is not conflicts. Conflict should arise out of the beliefs each character holds, beliefs that derive from their life experiences. Opposing beliefs and conflicting goals make for strong, believable conflicts. In order for the romance to work, both the hero and heroine must make compromises. Superromance books are page turners known for compelling emotion. All tones are welcome, including humor, suspense, family drama and adventure. Families and babies are popular themes. The focus of the story is always on the central romance. Secondary characters and subplots are welcome, but all characters must be well-developed. Submit the first three chapters and a synopsis to Victoria Curran or Wanda Ottewell in the Toronto office.
Next week, I'll conclude my look at Harlequin's category romance lines.
I'll share more info from the RWA Conference in San Fran as it comes available to me...