Harlequin Presents Writing Competion: Official Rules

These are all the legal rules for the Instant Seduction Harlequin Presents Writing Competition. Naturally, the names of the winners will also be posted on the blog!


1. To enter, submit by e-mail a Microsoft Word file of a typed, double spaced, first chapter (no greater than 5,000 words) of a story you have written which is suitable for the Harlequin Presents series, and a synopsis (no greater than two pages in length) of the complete novel, along with your name, address, e-mail address and phone number to:


2.  All submissions must be in English and be received no later than February 14th, 2008. Story concept must be original and must not have won a previous prize/award nor have been previously submitted, reproduced or published.

3.  Entries will be judged by a panel of members of the Harlequin Presents editorial staff, based on the following criteria:
• Voice
• Content
• Writing Skills

in equal measure.
In the event of a tie, duplicate prizes will be awarded. Decisions of the judges are final.

4. Submissions will not be returned and may be used for promotional purposes only. All rights of the submitted work will remain with the author.  Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited, at its discretion, may request to see one or more full manuscripts from contest entrants after the close of the competition. No responsibility is assumed for lost, late, illegible, incomplete, non-compliant, non-delivered or misdirected submissions. 

  5.   This contest is open to entrants who are 18 years of age or older and is void wherever prohibited by law; all applicable laws and regulations apply.  Employees and immediate family members of Harlequin Enterprises Ltd and Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited, including contracted authors, their parents, affiliates, subsidiaries and all other agencies, entities and persons connected with the use, marketing or conduct of this Contest are not eligible to enter.  By acceptance of a prize, the winner consents to use of his/her name, photograph or other likeness for purposes of advertising, trade and promotion on behalf of Harlequin Enterprises Limited and Harlequin Mills & Boon, without further compensation, unless prohibited by law.

6. Winners will be determined no later than March 31st, 2008, and will be notified by e-mail.  Winners will be required to sign and return a Publicity Release and Affidavit of Eligibility certifying his/her eligibility and that the submitted chapter and story outline are his/her own original work, and it has not won a previous prize/award nor has it previously been submitted/reproduced/published, within 10 days of notification.  Non-compliance within that time period may result in disqualification and an alternate winner will be selected. Harlequin Enterprises Ltd and Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited, their parents, affiliates and subsidiaries are not responsible for errors in the electronic or printed presentation of this Contest.  Winners agree that Harlequin Enterprises Limited and Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited, their parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, agents and promotion agencies shall not be liable for injuries or losses of any kind resulting from acceptance of or use of their prize.

7. Prizes:

1st – winner will be awarded the services of a Harlequin Mills & Boon editor for one year [1st April 2008 – 31st March 2009], who will offer advice and guidance on contest entry, plus subsequent, previously mutually agreed submissions of partial or full manuscripts aimed at the Harlequin Presents series.
2nd  – consultations for two runners-up on their first chapter and synopsis aimed at the Harlequin Presents series (50000 words) with a Harlequin Mills & Boon editor.
Only one prize per person.  No cash alternatives.

8. For a list of winners (available after 1st April 2008), send a self-addressed, stamped
envelope to:

Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited
Eton House
18-24 Paradise Road
Surrey TW9 1SR
United Kingdom





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Comments ( 17 )
  1. BettyNWB
    November 28, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    Wonderful Contest. I have a question. How many entires can each person submit. Is it one per person?

    Thank you so much.

  2. Tessa
    November 29, 2007 at 11:52 am

    Hi, there, Betty,

    We’re getting asked this question lots already! We are not limiting the number of entries that one writer can make. However, we would kindly advise that we will be looking for quality over quantity!

    Thanks so much for your interest.


    November 29, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    This is so exciting an opportunity for an aspiring author from India. Really look forward to entering the competition though I know that competition will be tough. Sounds challenging.

    Thank you for having competitions such as these and making it easy for us by accepting email submissions.


  4. The Mess in Progress » Win an Editor for a Year
    November 30, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    […] The prizes certainly sound worthwhile. First place wins an editor for a year, while the two runners-up will receive editorial critiques of their first chapter and a telephone consultation. Rules can be found here and they’re reasonably straightforward. Entries can’t have been previously published, submitted for publication or won an award in a previous contest, and all rights to the submitted entry are retained by the author. Entries may be submitted from January 1 to February 14, 2008 aka Valentine’s Day. […]

  5. GretaM
    December 4, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    Hi, Tessa.

    Can the two-page synopsis be single-spaced?


  6. mini
    December 5, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    Hi Tessa,

    Can you enter the competition if you only have a few chapters of your book finnished or do you have to have the complete book done in order to enter?

    Thank you for all your time and help.


  7. Julie Cohen » Instant Seduction contest
    December 5, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    […] Check out the rules here. Posted by Julie @ 11:13 pm | contests   « […]

  8. Tessa
    December 6, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Greta – synopses should be double-spaced, please.

    Mini – sure you can enter with an incomplete manuscript. However, you should be able to submit a full synopsis of your completed story with your first chapter when you enter the competition. Hope you know how your story’s going to end!

  9. GretaM
    January 3, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    Hi, Tessa.

    Can we enter a manuscript which has placed in RWA chapter contests, but not yet been submitted to Hqn/Silh/M&B?


  10. Madeline Smyth
    January 10, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    Hi Tessa,

    If the ms has a Prologue, can that be included with Chapter One, if the total entry is still 5,000 words or less?


  11. Claudia Cole
    January 12, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Madeline I asked this question and this is the response that I got from Tessa. I’ve cut and pasted,

    Yes, a prologue is acceptable as part of the 5,000 word count.
    Some authors find prologues very effective as a way of whetting readers’ appetites before jumping right into the relationship and the story.
    The only thing to remember is, prologues should be no more than 2 – 3 pages long. Shorter, if possible.

    Hope this helps.

    Good luck with your entry,


  12. Tren
    January 12, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    I apologize if this question has been answered elsewhere on the site.

    Regarding the 5,000 words: is this computer word count?

    Thank you!


  13. Madeline Smyth
    January 12, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    Hi Claudia,

    Thanks for the info regarding the Prologue.

    Do you know the answer to Greta’s question (just above my question) on whether a manuscript that has placed in RWA chapter contests can be entered in this contest?


  14. Claudia Cole
    January 13, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Madeline as far as I can recall it would be ok to enter a chapter that has placed in contests. But I really can’t say for sure. My best advice is for you to go back and read every post and every reply. The editor’s have been very thorough in their responses so you should find the answer to that question.

    I would go back and check for you but I have a hectic schedule over the next week.


  15. CataUniversity » Blog Archive » Harlequin Presents Contest
    January 20, 2008 at 10:27 pm
  16. TGTBTU’s Harlequin Insider: New in 2008 : The Good, The Bad and The Unread
    February 22, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    […] To help celebrate the expansion, the Presents editorial team is running a writing contest . The top prize is an editor for a year. There are several runners’ up prizes of a telephone consultation with an editor. Exactly who the editor will be has not been disclosed, but ALL the editors in the London office are excellent. Tessa Shapcott, the executive editor for the line, is known to produce legendary revision letters. The prize really emphasizes the Harlequin commitment to growing authors. Harlequin doesn’t simply buy books; they buy authors. Presents is also the engine that drives Harlequin. It is the most popular line worldwide. There is no limit to the times a person can enter BUT they are emphasizing Quality. The contest closes on 14 February. [Ed note: Ummm…hope ya’ll saw this already…oops.] […]

  17. Romance Novel TV is all about Category Romances at I (Heart) Presents
    September 25, 2008 at 11:39 am

    […] How is your entry for the Instant Seduction competition shaping up? Tessa reports she’s already received a lot of submissions and they’re looking forward to even more! Tags:media romance novel tv Uncategorized Bookmarks: –> […]