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How to Write Romance Fiction

How to Submit a Romance Manuscript for Publication

by Irene Vartanoff

You’ve written a romance. Congratulations. Now to whom do you submit it, and how? Luckily for you, romance publishing is very open to newcomers and information on submissions is simple to find. If you follow the guidelines, your chances of having your manuscript read by the right person are excellent.

Submit only to publishers who currently publish romance fiction. Start with an Internet search on “romance publishers” and you’ll hit paydirt right away.

  • The Passionate Pen has a comprehensive list of romance publishers at www.passionatepen.com/romancepubs.htm and includes links to the publishers’ submissions pages, too.
  • The Romance Writers of America’s site at www.rwanational.org has a Current Romance Releases section that lists the names of more than 20 publishers who regularly publish romance. It’s easy to visit each publisher’s website and click on the submissions guidelines for the kind of romance you have written.
  • Don’t forget to check Preditors and Editors at www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/ for current information about the business practices of these publishers.

As much as you may desire to get published, you should not deal with abusive, incompetent, or downright crooked organizations. Make sure you also thoroughly investigate the romance section of a large bookstore, so you can see which publishers produce a professional package that looks like a real book. And if a publisher’s website strikes you as amateurish, you can be fairly sure that their finished product won’t be much better. Preditors and Editors’ Warning List will also alert you to the types of publishers to avoid.

Don’t rule out online publishers. Many new and established writers are now publishing in e-book format. Many readers prefer the immediacy of downloading a book either to their computer or handheld reader. The Passionate Pen website includes listings for e-book publishers under Small Press (Mixed Format) and e-Publishing. Just follow the same rules as you would in selecting any publisher.

Many new and established writers are now publishing in e-book format.

Many romances are written with a particular publisher in mind. If you’ve done that, visit that publisher’s website for details on the kinds of books they currently are buying. Review your manuscript to make sure that it is what this publisher wants, especially regarding topics and word length. Some topics/situations are taboo. And there is a significant story-arc difference between a manuscript that is 60,000 words and one that is 90,000 words. Never make the mistake of thinking you can ignore the publisher’s stated preferences. These preferences are listed for a reason. A publisher knows their audience and what types of stories appeal to them. They also know what books suit their list. Don’t think that you or your manuscript will be the exception to the rule.

If you’re looking for an agent, the Association of Authors' Representatives has a site,
www.aar-online.org/mc/page.do with good basic information about the author-agent relationship and submissions guidelines, plus a list of agents. There’s a database of over 300 agents at www.agentquery.com that includes information about which agents are accepting queries and under what circumstances, plus their contact details. This site lists the kinds of books each agent represents. If yours is a paranormal romance, for instance, you can review all the agents who list that they sell paranormal. Even more useful, each agent’s profile includes samples of recently sold books. So if you want to sell your romance to Avon, for instance, with a little effort you can cross-reference and find an agent who has recently sold a romance to Avon. Just like with a publisher, don’t send an agent something that doesn’t meet their requirements. It is simply a waste of their time and yours.


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