Harlequin Launches New Line, Authors Everywhere Polish Synopses

May 30th, 2005 · 11 Comments
by Booksquare

We had a friend recently describe Harlequin’s recent efforts as something akin to lurching around in the dark. That !@#$ light switch must be somewhere! While avoiding every bit of our helpful advice, the publisher continues to tinker with ideas and concepts, looking for something that resonates with today’s readers. We would suggest a bit less focus on “lines” and a bit more focus on stories, but that’s probably why we’re not a multinational corporation.

The new Epic Romance line is targeted toward readers (and writers) of, well, the love story aspect of J.D. Robb’s “In Death” series. None of the “wham, bam, thank you ma’am” approach to falling in love for this line — to quote:

The working name of this program is Epic Romance. We’ll be launching in September 2006, with two books per month (75,000 words)–and we’re ready to start acquiring. As of June 15, 2005, we invite submissions from both published and unpublished writers.
To put it succinctly, the novels in this series will follow the life and relationship/s of one couple. The books will therefore span considerably more time than the typical series romance–it could be years or even an entire lifetime. The focus of epic romance is on much more of the characters’ lives, not just the weeks or months during which the romantic relationship develops and its initial resolution takes place.

We are looking for emotionally intense stories with a strong emphasis on well-rendered and psychologically credible characters (who influence each other’s lives over time). The series will be open to a wide range of plots and situations; each story will require a significant conflict that creates urgency, excitement and momentum. Structurally, there will be many more options–interesting and non-linear ways of structuring the story–than the traditional series romance typically allows. The narrative can start at any point, can include diaries or letters, can move freely back and forth in time, etc. Points of view can vary–and first person narrative can be used.

We’re looking for writers who can create a complex and believable world for the characters and their romance. We want to see an individual and engaging style that is appropriate to the scope of the story. Above all, we want you to write a romance that matters, a sweeping narrative, a memorable story that touches the reader emotionally.

Start with a synopsis plus 1-3 chapters. Please submit to Paula Eykelhof, Executive Editor, Harlequin Books, 225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9. Emotionally compelling, think more along the lines of a family saga than traditional romance, try to be creative, etc. Contest in the offing; details if we can sustain interest.

File Under: Publishers and Editors

11 responses so far ↓

  • Susan Gable // May 30, 2005 at 5:22 pm

    I just have to ask, what are they thinking? How does one tell an EPIC story that focuses on a LIFETIME (or at least years worth) relationship in a mere 75,000 words?

    (scratching head)

    I have enough trouble bringing in my Supers at 85k.

    I just don’t understand how they’re going to achieve the depth they want in this word count.

  • Brenda Coulter // May 31, 2005 at 6:36 am

    Yeah, I nearly laughed myself off my chair yesterday when I got that e-mail announcement from Harlequin. “Sweeping narratives” that will “span considerably more time than the typical series romance” sound very exciting until you realize that these “epic romances” will be crammed into little books of 75,000 words.

    Are they kidding?

  • Booksquare // May 31, 2005 at 7:20 am

    Okay, at the risk of stating the obvious, no, they are apparently not kidding (though the what are they smoking thought remains on the table). My guess, if I may, is that maybe you can follow the characters through multiple books? No, that doesn’t feel right. I’m sure someone has a clue here…

  • Brenda Coulter // May 31, 2005 at 8:13 am

    From the guidelines sheet:

    Epic Romance novels explore a relationship over a period of years–even an entire lifetime. An Epic Romance is the history of a romance [Emphasis theirs.]

    Nothing in the guidelines suggests they are talking about anything other than stand-alone books. I imagine they’re thinking along the lines of Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook. But heck, if I had a story like that in me, I sure wouldn’t sell it to a series line.

  • Susan Gable // May 31, 2005 at 8:22 am

    Amen, Brenda. I think you’ve nailed it. They want to capture the essence of Sparks in a category line – and I too am wondering why an author with that kind of a book would want to do it as a category instead of a single title and the potential of a much bigger payoff.

    Although if the line survives long enough, it will become sort of expected to try to find your book a home there, I suppose.

  • Booksquare // May 31, 2005 at 8:28 am

    Hmm, I never thought of Sparks angle. Possibly because I never think of Sparks. Seems like there’s a cause/effect thing going on. If you’re right Brenda (and I’m totally fine with declaring that to be so!), then they’re seeking sweeping romance light. Reads great, less filling.

  • Susan Gable // May 31, 2005 at 9:03 am

    LOL – Another author also recently proclaimed this “Epic Light.”

    I was thinking more in terms of Sound Byte Epic. Or Short Attention Span Epic.

    How sad is that?

  • Booksquare // May 31, 2005 at 10:28 am

    Well, when you consider the fact that we’re having all this fun with the idea, it’s not so sad at all. Unless you consider the fact that it highlights how easily amused some people are.

    I do like Short Attention Span Epic…it’s catchy!

  • Susan Gable // May 31, 2005 at 10:34 am

    Hey, and get a load of the acronym for them: SASE – pronounced Sassy. (Because I said so!)

    Yes, Yes, I do believe Short Attention Span Epic is the way to go! I should call HQ’s marketing department now!

    Of course, SASE also stands for Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope, something authors are very familiar with. (g)

    Short Attention Span Epics – so small they will fit in a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope.

    Okay, yes, we are easily amused, I admit it. LOL.

  • Karen // Jun 1, 2005 at 12:55 pm

    Unless you’re talkin’ saga, 75,000 words is considered a short book? Really? That seems like a perfectly decent length.

  • April Joleen // Jul 20, 2005 at 6:43 am

    I actually found this post because I was looking for info on epic romances as research as to what harlequin might be looking for LOL

    I like the SASE.

    i do have to say though, that The Notebook, by Sparks was only 47,000 words, and he successfully nailed a relationship from beginning to end at old age. I don’t know what his other book lengths are, but this is incredible. Also, James Patterson’s Suzann’es Diary For Nicholas, isn’t much longer than The Notebook. I think it might also be considered an epic.

    Ofocurse than you have books like Gone With the Wind, which is lengthy, to say the least.

    I like the idea of this, but have to agree, with whoever mentioned selling to another publisher verses a series .