So you want to write a romance novel? Do you know what that means? Very briefly, a romance focuses on the central story of two people falling in love, and the challenges they encounter trying to make the relationship work. It also means the story will end with the understanding that these two characters will wind up together and live ‘happily ever after’ – referred to as the HEA, in writer’s parlance.
Let me suggest, politely, that if you find yourself rolling your eyes at this idea, or feeling very cynical about the concept, then you might want to reconsider romance. However, I also recommend finishing the book you want to write and then trying to figure out where to put it. There are a wealth of subgenres within romance (also discussed at the above link), and one could almost say that romance offers nearly any kind of story you may want to read – fantasy, Western, historical, suspense, etc. – with a romance at the center of the story. So, there’s really no reason you can’t write about anything you want and find somewhere it fits.
As long as it’s not two hundred thousand words long…
Another big piece of information you should if you want to write a romance novel: You can write anything you want, about whatever you want, and make it as long as you want. No worries!
Most publishers have guidelines.
You can find a lot of information on their websites, in Writer’s Market (a resource guide for writers published annually, but also available online for a fee), and at writers’ meetings and conferences.
There are tons of resources out there, so chances are you’ll be able to find the answer to your questions. However, don’t spend all your time researching. At some point, you actually have to sit down and get some work done. (ahem, in case you missed it, see my last post – Romance Writing 101, where I admonish you to, you know, write.)
The Writer’s Market books are great resources for the publishing industry and for writing tips, as is Romance Writers of America (RWA). Another great resource is the Harlequin website, with writing articles and linked blogs with how-to’s, author essays and publishing info.
There are a few really great things about Harlequin if you’re considering writing romance. For one thing, they really are the powerhouse romance publisher and are always looking for new, talented writers. (It’s competitive, so you have to be good, but it’s possible.) They are one of the few major publishers who allow submissions without an agent (or some other kind of ‘in’). And they have built-in distribution, so even as a first-time author, you’re likely going to have some guaranteed sales beyond your mother, best friend, and favorite cousin.
So, do a little research, if you feel so moved. But before too long, get to work!