Romance Includes You Mentorship

Harlequin’s Romance Includes You Mentorship initiative offers aspiring romance writers from underrepresented communities the chance to work one-on-one with a Harlequin editor for a year on writing a romance novel and includes an offer to publish their book and $5,000 (US) to support their novel writing.

We’re committed to publishing diverse and inclusive voices so that readers see themselves reflected in the books we publish. We’re always looking for new talent and want to bring more stories representing diverse and own voices to romance readers. If you have ever dreamed of becoming a published romance novelist, this opportunity could be for you.

What are we offering?

We are looking to offer to a deserving applicant:

  • A 12-month mentorship by an experienced Harlequin editor to develop your submission into a full-length romance novel;
  • A publishing contract with Harlequin for your completed novel; and
  • A $5,000 (US) grant to support the novel writing process.

Who should apply?

Harlequin is actively working to broaden diversity, inclusion and representation in its romance publishing program and is looking for stories by traditionally underrepresented voices. We welcome submissions for the mentorship initiative from unpublished or self-published writers, including (but not limited to) people of color, members of racial and ethnic minorities, Indigenous communities, LGBTQIA+ communities, people with disabilities, and other diverse and own voices.

Our ideal recipient will demonstrate a genuine interest in writing romance fiction for adult readers for Harlequin romance lines or Carina Press, be open to editorial guidance and suggestions, and be keen to learn about the editorial process, the romance market and the publishing industry.

We will only accept English-language submissions from residents in Canada (excluding Quebec) and the United States who have reached age of majority in their province or state of residence. We will not accept submissions from previously published writers (i.e. commercially published), writing teams, or submissions in genres other than adult romance fiction. We will accept only one submission by each eligible applicant. If there is more than one submission, we will review the first submission received.

Where can I make a submission?

We are accepting submissions from September 1 to October 15, 2019 at Please use the submission page for Romance Includes You Mentorship.

What is required for the submission?

We are asking applicants to submit:

  • A story synopsis (maximum of 2,500 words) plus the first chapter of the novel that shows your writing ability and potential to write a romance novel. If your novel begins with a prologue, include it and chapter one (maximum of 7,500 words). Please keep your submission under 10,000 words for the synopsis and first chapter.
  • A short, true personal statement of about 500 words in support of your submission. We’d love to learn more about your romance writing journey and your writing ambitions. Please tell us about your passion for romance fiction and why you want to write romance fiction for adult readers. Please describe how your voice will add diversity and broaden representation in the romance genre and what you are hoping to get out of this mentorship opportunity if you are selected.

When preparing your submission, please keep in mind that we want enough detail to fairly evaluate your idea, writing ability and potential, but the submission needs to be short enough to attract our attention and let us know the “hook” of your idea.

Your submission should fit into the romance genre for adult readers but does not need to satisfy the writing guidelines for any specific Harlequin series lines or Carina Press—we want to see your writing talent, style and voice shine through and will evaluate applications based on demonstrated writing potential and creativity.

Harlequin publishes a variety of romance stories from sweet to sexy, encompassing a range of subgenres including historical, medical, suspense and faith-based romance fiction. Carina Press publishes a wide variety of adult fiction, including contemporary, historical and LGBTQIA+ romance, paranormal, fantasy and mystery. We welcome and encourage writers who may not be familiar with what Harlequin publishes to apply. You can read about Harlequin’s series romance lines here and learn more about Carina Press here.

When does this run?

Submissions will be accepted from September 1 to October 15, 2019, at 11:59 PM ET. Any submissions received outside of this period will not be considered.

We hope to select a candidate by the end of 2019 for a 12-month mentorship starting in early 2020, although timing will depend on the number of submissions received for review.

How will you pick a recipient?

All eligible entries will be reviewed by editors who acquire for Harlequin’s series romance program and Carina Press according to our judging criteria. They will finalize a shortlist of submissions to be reviewed by a final judging panel. 

We will evaluate submissions based on:

  • The writing quality of your story synopsis and first chapter;
  • The creativity of your story, characters and ideas, and the strength of the romantic element;
  • The strength of your personal statement about how your voice will add diversity and broaden representation in the romance genre; and
  • Your interest and commitment, as demonstrated in your personal statement, toward writing a romance novel.

While we hope this is not the case, if our preliminary review does not identify any acceptable entries or the final judging panel does not view any as acceptable, we may choose to select no recipients for the mentorship.

Who is judging the final submissions?

Glenda Howard – Senior Executive Editor at Harlequin

Glenda Howard is the Senior Executive Editor for the New York Series group. She manages Kimani Romance, and oversees Desire, Intrigue, Romantic Suspense, Special Edition, Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense. She has been with Harlequin for almost twenty years and has had the privilege of working with many talented authors, including New York Times and USA Today bestseller Brenda Jackson, Kayla Perrin and Donna Hill. Glenda has previously held editorial positions at St. Martin’s Press and BET Books. 

Kerri Buckley –Senior Editor at Carina Press

Since joining Carina Press in 2013, Kerri Buckley has been actively acquiring across all subgenres of romance and mystery. Previously, Kerri spent eight years at the Bantam Dell imprint of Random House, editing women’s fiction, romance and thrillers as well as the occasional nonfiction title. Exciting recent and forthcoming books include the American Dreamers series by Adriana Herrera, Appetites & Vices by Felicia Grossman and Lush Money by Angelina M. Lopez. Kerri’s Carina Press titles have twice been nominated for RITA® awards and she was the 2016 RWANYC Golden Apple Editor of the Year. In addition to judging submissions for Romance Includes You and editing an ever-growing list, Kerri currently leads our in-house Editorial Engagement team, focusing on diversity and inclusion. Find Kerri on Twitter @BuckleyKerri.

Charles Griemsman Editor at Harlequin

Since joining the company in 2005, Charles Griemsman has worked on several of Harlequin’s category romance lines. His primary focus is on the Harlequin Desire series where he’s worked with a wide range of USA TODAY and New York Times bestselling authors including Maya Banks, Katy Evans, Joanne Rock and Charlene Sands, Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® winners including Cat Schield and Sarah Cannon, and many others. He also provides editorial support for Harlequin Special Edition, where his list includes New York Times bestselling author Allison Leigh and Kathy Douglass. Always on the lookout for diverse stories and deeply committed to putting inclusion and representation at the center of the editorial discussion, Charles is proud to serve on the Romance Includes You Mentorship planning committee.

Nic Caws – Editor at Harlequin

Nic Caws is an editor for Harlequin Presents, working from the London office. She came to Harlequin in 2013, after completing her BA in English Literature, and promptly fell headlong into a love affair with category romance. In the last five years, Nic has been lucky to work closely with over 30 authors across the Modern, Historical, Medical, Romance and Dare romance lines, and books she’s edited have been nominated for RITA®, KOBO and RoNA awards. Find Nic on Twitter @NicolaCaws

Farah Mullick Senior Director of Marketing at Harlequin

Farah Mullick is the Senior Director of Global Marketing for Harlequin with over 18 years of experience in all aspects of marketing: retail, direct to consumer and digital. She currently leads the management of Harlequin series product portfolios, new product development and product revitalizations. Farah has extensive experience in the development of brand partnerships, consumer insight initiatives, in-store strategies with key retailers, online marketing/merchandising solutions and integrated consumer marketing campaigns. She holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business and is an avid reader of romance.

What does the mentorship include?

The mentorship offers a chance to be mentored by an experienced Harlequin editor and will include the following:

  • An initial 30-minute phone or video consultation with one of our editors to discuss what Harlequin publishes, what you’re interested in writing and to pick the book series that’s right for your work.
  • The support of a handpicked editorial mentor for 12 months, including quarterly touch-base calls for advice, questions and assistance with the editing process to complete a manuscript for publication.
  • Written editorial feedback on your novel by your editorial mentor at three key stages:
    • On your completed proposal, including a story synopsis and four chapters of your book (usually around 50-60 pages);
    • On the complete manuscript; and
    • On the revised manuscript for publication.

How does the publishing contract work?

Before being offered a contract, we will arrange a preliminary 30-minute discussion with one of our editors to explain Harlequin’s variety of romance series and imprints and to determine which one is best for your work and style. Once we have agreed on a series or imprint, we will forward you a standard publishing agreement for that series or imprint.

The publishing contract will include royalty terms but will not include an additional advance over and above the $5,000 grant we are offering.
You will be given the chance to review the contract before signing, and submitting an entry puts you under no obligation to accept the mentorship or publishing contract.

In order to get the mentorship and novel writing underway as soon as possible, we will ask that the series or imprint selection and contracting process move quite quickly and that within 30 days of being notified of your selection, you either choose to sign the agreement or reject it to allow us to potentially offer this opportunity to another deserving applicant. If a contract is not signed within this time frame, we reserve the right to retract your offer.

How does the grant work?

The selected recipient can receive up to $5,000 (US) to support writing a novel during the mentorship. Funds can be used at the recipient’s discretion to cover expenses related to their developing writing career including:

  • Enrolling in writing courses or workshops
  • Registering for a writers’ conference
  • Joining a local chapter of Romance Writers of America or another organization for romance novelists
  • Paying other expenses to support your writing

Funds will be awarded at three stages. The delivery dates for each stage will be set out in the publishing contract:

  • $1,000 upon signing the publishing contract we are offering;
  • $2,000 upon submitting the first four chapters of your manuscript (approximately 50 pages or 12,500 words) and a detailed synopsis (approximately 8-15 pages); and
  • $2,000 upon delivering a completed, revised manuscript that incorporates editorial revisions and suggestions and is acceptable for publication.

It will be in our discretion to determine when these targets are hit, though we will work with you to ensure that we clearly communicate any issues or concerns as they come up.

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 contract 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.

How will you use my personal information?

By applying to the Romance Includes You Mentorship initiative, you give us the right to use your name, mailing address and email for the purpose of administering the judging and selection process. You also agree that if you are selected as a grant recipient, you will give us the right to use your name, photograph and likeness for purposes of announcing the recipient and publicizing the Romance Includes You Mentorship initiative. We will use your personal information only for identified purposes and in a manner that is consistent with our Privacy Policy that can be found at

Getting Started and Staying Connected

Get inspired and find writing tips and advice from our editors on

Join the Harlequin Writing Community on Facebook—a group of over 2,300 Harlequin authors and aspiring writers. Chat sessions will be scheduled with Harlequin editors to answer your questions once the submission period opens on September 1. Follow #RomanceIncludesYou on Twitter.

Sample free books from among Harlequin’s 12 series romance lines on

More Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Getting Started

Latest News

News Release Announcement

Romance Includes You Supports Diversity and Inclusion : An update on outreach initiatives

Contact Information

The Romance Includes You Mentorship initiative is being offered by Harlequin Enterprises Limited, Bay Adelaide Centre, East Tower, Floor 41, 22 Adelaide St. W., Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5H 4E3. Please direct any inquires to

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