Instant Seduction: Harlequin Presents Writing Competition!

by Tessa Shapcott, Executive Editor, Harlequin Presents

Harlequin Presents is looking for new writers!

It’s an exciting time for Harlequin Presents: from January 2008, there will be 12 of our intensely passionate romances available every month.  And with this increase of titles comes a great opportunity for aspiring authors – we will be looking to buy more books for publication!

The old saying goes that first impressions are lasting impressions – and when it comes to reading a Harlequin Presents, that certainly holds true.  If the first chapter doesn’t immediately grip the reader with its pace, passion and intensity, then she won’t continue to turn the pages.

So Presents is inviting unpublished writers to show us how they can grab the attention of our readership with first chapters that really sizzle.  The INSTANT SEDUCTION competition offers prizes that are chances of a lifetime for the lucky winner and runners-up:
*First prize – win yourself an editor for a year!
*Two runners-up will be given editorial critiques of their first chapter entries and also a personal telephone consultation about their writing!

Continue to visit this blog for full details of the competition – and the chance to prepare for publication with an exclusive series of writing tutorials prepared by the editorial team at Harlequin Presents, including advice on First Chapters, How to Write a Synopsis, Developing a Global Voice, Loving the Alpha Male and Generating Emotional Conflict. Check out the all the links under the writing competition category.

Entries for the competition will be accepted as on-line submissions only from 1st January until 14th February 2008.  Entries should comprise of the first chapter and a synopsis of a previously unpublished/unsubmitted novel aimed at Harlequin Presents.
Address for entries:

Good luck everyone and we are very much looking forward to finding some exciting new voices.

Official Rules

How To Submit

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48 Responses to Instant Seduction: Harlequin Presents Writing Competition!

  1. sue child says:

    Thanks for all the advice, Tessa!

    I’ve started work on my entry. It’s so hard imagining Daniel Craig every time I write about my hero


  2. beverley1022 says:

    I always get the feeling if I write about anywhere in the United States, it’s an automatic no no. Is that because most of the HP seem to always have settings out of the U.S.?

  3. sue child says:

    Hi Beverley,

    I’ve read Presents set in the US, especially ones by Sandra Marton and Lucy Monroe :-)

    Good luck!


  4. Claudia Cole says:

    Hi Tessa,

    Thanks for this great opportunity. Is there a limit to how many entries we can submit?



  5. I am curious about the unpublished author status. Does this fall under the RWA unpublished guidelines, or just that the author cannot be published with any other publisher in the US, just as an ebook publisher?

    Thanks, Patti Shenberger

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  7. Good questions, all! I am gathering them for Tessa and her team so you can get the full scoop!

  8. Claudia Cole says:

    Thanks Malle.


  9. Natalie Anderson says:

    Wow – this is such a great competition – and the prize is invaluable!!!!!!! As one of the newer authors (for the Modern Heat strand) let me tell you these books are SUCH fun to write and fabulous to read!
    Beverly, Sue is right, there are many set in the US – Heidi Rice (another new Modern Heat writer) has her debut set in the US. The books are set all over the world actually! I’m in New Zealand and tend to set mine here, in Australia and also the UK – although I just had one heroine end up in South America! That’s part of the attraction – they can globetrot to all those exotic places… and Beverly, from where I sit, the US is exotic!
    Have a great time writing and good luck to everyone!!!


  10. beverley1022 says:

    Thanks ladies, glad to know. I never thought about it much when I was younger and started to read them, but when I look back I realized how few I read based in North America. But yes, I do have Sandra Morton and went looking and sure enough she has settings in North America. What a relief because I grew up outside of Toronto and worked in Manhattan when I lived in NJ, so those are the settings I wrote about.

  11. Natalie Anderson says:

    Beverley (apols for mis-spelling your name earlier btw) I for one would LOVE to read a Presents/Modern Heat set in Manhattan! What could be more urban and glam?

  12. I’m a new Modern Heat author too (Presents Extra in the US as of January) and as for settings, they just have to be glamourous — and that doesn’t necessarily mean a city.

    My first book Bedded by a Playboy is set almost entirely on Long Island. And in my second book The Mile High Club (aka The Millionaire’s Blackmail Bargain in the US) I managed to get my hero and heroine from London to Paris to New York (three of my favourite cities) all in the space of 55,000 words! What a hoot. While in my third book the H&H start in Las Vegas and end up in Big Sur, California. I’m a Londoner, but, as you can probably tell, I love America and I think it’s just about the most glam place in the world — especially if you’ve got a gorgeous hero and a fiesty heroine to share it with… So go for it Beverley, whatever works for you.

  13. Hi, there, everybody,

    Many thanks for all your questions so far. We’re delighted that you are so interested in the contest!

    To answer your questions: we are limiting entry to unpublished authors and to first chapters and synopses that are never before submitted or published anywhere (that would include all terrestial and ebook)because we want to offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Also we always look for material for which we can buy all rights.

    As for a limit on entries, no, there isn’t one, though I would caution contestants to think about quality over quantity.

    As for US/Canadian settings – we welcome them! Like all Presents novels, your settings must be aspirational and glamorous, on the map internationally, so major cities are good, rich resorts or luxury vacation destinations too. Small towns R not us, though. Heidi and Natlie are ofering good advice on this.

  14. writercheryl says:

    I understand the no published authors rule. I have two online short stories published (5000) words with a e-pub, but no books. Does that count as published?

  15. Hi Cheryl

    With the Instant Seduction writing contest we are looking for never before published work, so that does exclude material that has been published before online.

    But don’t let that put you off entering with a totally new chapter aimed at Harlequin Presents! There’s still a while to go before the deadline for contest closure and there’s lots of advice elsewhere on the blog on how to get the best out of your first chapter and synopsis.

    Best of luck!

  16. writercheryl says:

    Hi Tessa. I’m sorry I wasn’t clear. I have two new unpublished and not previously submitted stories for the contest. I mentioned my two short stories to make sure I wouldn’t be considered published since they weren’t books. I’m very excited about this contest and I want everything on the up an up. I’m so glad I qualify to enter! Thanks!

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  19. Hi,

    I think it’s a great opportunity for aspiring writers. I certainly will be entering. :) You should see the pages I’ve printed out to study on this competition.

    Tessa, are exotic, deserted islands a suitable location. Although they don’t spend all their time there, they spend it in an exotic resort, as well as a major city.

    Thank you for answering all our questions, it is very much appreciated.


  20. sue child says:

    Hi Tessa! Thanks for the clarification.

    Suz, I’m not Tessa, but have you read Annie West’s The Sheikh’s Ransomed Bride or For the Sheikh’s Pleasure? She set part of her stories on exoctic, desert islands.


  21. I’m so excited about this contest, I can’t wait to enter! I have a (probably VERY silly) question. How can you differentiate the Modern Heat/Extra stories from traditional Presents? I’m dying to read a few!

  22. Thanks Sue,

    That gives me hope, lol.

    This is an exciting competition. I’m all reved up. :)


  23. Hm. Definitely cool. I look forward to reading new authors– totally. Techincally I can enter after my birthday. Yay @ being legal. But I thnk I will leave the writing to others… and stick to the reading. =)

  24. MoiraM – in January there are four Modern Heat stories published – making up a “Pregnant Mistresses” collection:

    “The Pregnancy Ultimatum” by Kate Hardy
    “Price of Passion” by Susan Napier
    “Bedded by a Playboy” by Heidi Rice (her debut book)

    and “All Night with the Boss” by me :) (Natalie Anderson – and my debut too).

    The books are available now on the Harlequin website ( – click on “Harlequin Special Releases” and then on January to see them. They’re also available as ebooks through the site.

    Happy reading & good luck for the competition!!!

  25. Natalie – thanks so much, I appreciate the information. I’m actually half way through your fabulous book already – what a read!
    I’ll move on down the list shortly.

  26. Hi Suz and MoiraM

    Apologies for answering your queries in one post – this contest is really generating some big interest! We are so excited and are really looking forward to receiving the entries.

    First of all, Suz, you asked about exotic, deserted islands – sounds good as long as you can insert a bit of luxury in there. Presents readers tend to like an element of glamour, so an idyllic island paradise with a top rated hotel/spa or the hero’s fabulous hideaway pad would go down well with them. If you’re thinking shipwrecked, tattered clothes and no shower, this is not so appealing. It has to be seduction in comfort!

    MoiraM, Natalie’s recommendation to read next month’s Pregnant Mistresses is a great idea. Also check out Bryony Green’s blog on this site about Modern Heat, which is really helpful.

  27. Hi all,

    You can find Bryony’s excellent article on How To Write For Modern Heat by clicking by copying and pasting the
    url below.

    Also, use the category search for writing competition (in right hand column) and you will find all the posts about Instant Seduction.

  28. And the Modern Heat Writing Guidelines can be found here

  29. Suz,
    my recent sale to Modern Heat, “Hot Nights with a Playboy”, is set on an exotic island (the fictitious Sapphire Island, based on the real Whitsunday islands in North Queensland.) Think ultra luxury, glamour and exclusivity for an island and you can make that island setting come alive.
    With settings, I think exotic can mean different things to different people.
    So far I’ve set my upcoming release in Feb, Purchased for Pleasure in LA & Sydney, my March release Mistress for a Tycoon in Melbourne-the very glam city I live in :)-and the island.
    I adore reading about places I’ve never been, part of the beauty of picking up a great book and getting swept away to a new fabulous place.

  30. Thank you Tessa, and Nicola

    I have to rethink a setting now lol… Can’t stop and chat too long, sorry, I’ve got some serioius editing to attend to. :)

    Thank you,


  31. Thanks so much Tessa!
    They are all such helpful posts, really informative, and the comments too. Such fun!

  32. Janet says:

    Now I’m confused. I understand that the competition entries shouldn’t have been published or submitted to any publisher before. But…

    Is any writer who hasn’t been published by Harlequin eligible to enter? Even if they have had a novel published by a different publisher?

  33. Hello, Janet,

    You can enter if you are previously published by another publisher, but your entry to the competition must not have been submitted to that publisher or, indeed, to Harlequin before.

    Hope that helps,


  34. elaine says:

    I’ve been a Harlequin fan (Mills and Boon) since I was 10-12 years old (I’m now 23) and I’m also an aspiring writer. This contest is really a big opportunity for me 😀 I just have a question though, I am from the Philippines which is rather far, Am I still eligible to join the contest? I just wanted to clarify this 😀


  35. aparker54 says:

    Silly questions on “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”:

    (a) Do you want one Microsoft Word file or two (one for the chapter and another for the synopsis)?

    (b) May the USians among us follow U.S. style on quotation marks and spelling, for example, or would we do better to go British?


  36. Hi Elaine – oh, my goodness, yes! You can enter wherever you live in the world. Our Presents authors live in many countries, including Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Switzerland, the UK, France…

    Hi, Alison, not silly questions at all. It’s up to you whether you submit in one file or two. We can deal with either. Just make sure to label them clearly, including your name.

    Our in-house rule with regard to grammar and punctuation styles is to follow your own country’s rules. If you look at a printed Presents novel, you’ll see that our US authors follow American rules (Webster’s dictionary for spelling), Australians (Macquarie) and UK (Oxford).

    Thank you.

  37. JoannaD says:

    Clearing up about the unpublished status. If someone had a story online at the Harlequin website due to a contest win, with a completely different entry, would that disqualify them for this contest? Is that considered being published?

    Thanks so much for taking the time to answer all our questions.

  38. lissa says:

    Are collaborations eligible for the amazing Win an Editor contest?

  39. JoannaD and Lissa:

    we will accept entries from writers who are not formally published, so the contest win on-line would not disqualify you.

    We will also accept collaborations. Please can you make it clear if this is the set-up.

    Best of luck and look forward to hearing from you!

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  41. Anne80 says:

    Uhm, so a story previously submitted to a literary agent (but not accepted) does not qualify?

  42. miriamvanveen says:

    I wanted to know if the word count is actual computer word count or the 250 words a page formula word count.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  43. miriamvanveen says:

    Okay, one more question. If we are ebook published, are we disqualified from entering? Should those who are epublished just send three chapters and synopsis the normal route?

    Sorry but there is a huge difference from ebook published compared to traditional mass market published, so I want to be sure.

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  46. charlene1982 says:

    I also think this is a fantastic competition, thanks!!

    Last year I started writing a list of things I’d liek to do before I die. I’m only 25 but got inspiration from a website I was looking at. Two of the items on the list were “write a novel” and “send novel to a publisher”.

    A few weeks ago I started writing my novel. I even set it in London despite living in the Highlands of Scotland. I decided to check out how I would go about sending it in when it was finished and found this competition. Two items struck from my list!

    I’ve wanted to try being an author for years but never really had the patience to properly plan and write my story before I started, I always figured the characters would tell the story themselves in my head. This time I’ve planned it properly and the characters ARE coming to life in my head and I can’t wait to finish the story.

    Good luck to everyone and thanks again for a great opportunity.

  47. helen says:

    Hello Tessa,

    Thanks for all the advice you’re giving us. My heart sank a little when I read ‘small towns R not us’. My story is set in a Scottish castle – so it’s glam and luxurious – but is it okay to be hidden away in the highlands? Thanks, Helen

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