First and foremost, to break into series romance, you need to read series romance. And I mean, a lot of series romance. Choose a line you love—or one you think you possibly could love—and collect as many recent titles as you can. When I first targeted series romance, I read over 300 series romances to learn all I could about the books I planned to write. I kept a file on each book I read, breaking down all the elements that go into a book: characters, conflicts, settings, hooks. I wanted to find the commonality among the books in a given line, so that I could deliver what the editors of that line are looking for. You want to write a book that fills the requirements for the line you’ve chosen, yet does so in a way that feels fresh and new. It’s a big challenge. And it can be a fulfilling one.
At Harlequin, when your series book is ready to submit, you decide whether you want to use an agent or not. In series, the advances you can get and the changes you can make to the boilerplate contract are not as broad-ranging as they are in mainstream, so you may feel perfectly comfortable dealing with day-to-day business issues and negotiations yourself. I do. But if you like an expert handing all that stuff for you, that’s totally doable, too.
Also, when you write series romance, though you’re not required to think in terms of a continuing series of connected stories, you’re better off if you do. Readers love connected stories and they’re more popular in the category market than they’ve ever been. In fact, if you write for my line, Special Edition, every book you write will be part of an ongoing series. But if you see your book as a standalone, no problem. Submit it. The editors are more than happy to work with you to help you see the spinoff potential in any story you write.
Best of luck in the series market—and happy writing!
About Christine Rimmer
A New York Times bestselling author, Christine Rimmer has written over ninety contemporary romances for Harlequin Books. Christine has won the Romantic Times BOOKreviews Reviewers Choice Award and has been nominated six times for the RITA Award. She lives in Oregon with her family. Visit Christine at http://www.christinerimmer.com.