Here is the seemingly boilerplate generic message I received on December 18, 2018 from Harlequin/Mills & Boon for my medieval romance novel Being Aware. I’m curious to see if it identically matches what other authors have received. Note that this novel is 74,146 words. It’s directly in the center of their requested word count range. It features a heroine who is a deaf swordfighter.

My sense is that this is just a boilerplate listing their standard “top tips” for authors.


Dear Lisa

Thank you for submitting Being Aware for our consideration.

We have read your submission with interest; you certainly know how to conjure up the historical period evocatively and authentically. The story is well structured, with charming characters and you have a very natural, fluid writing style. However, whilst we appreciate the care and attention that has gone into the preparation of your submission, regrettably we feel that your story is not sufficiently developed for publication on our Historical list.

We are always looking for new Historical authors, although the standard we require in a first manuscript is very high. Please do not be discouraged by this rejection, however, because we feel that your style and voice show a great deal of potential.

Here are our top tips to make your next submission stand out from the crowd:

1. Break the mould; show us something new by putting your own unique twist on popular storylines. The best way to do this is through your characters – what makes your hero and heroine different from all that have gone before?

2. Focus on the internal emotional conflict of your characters. It’s easy to get carried away conjuring a vivid time period and dramatic plot but this shouldn’t be at the expense of the emotional depth and intensity between the hero and heroine.

3. Use secondary characters to add richness, depth and authenticity to your story but don’t let them take over!

4. The current word length for our Historical series is between 70,000 and 75,000 words. If you feel you have a longer story to tell, you might like to consider whether HQN or Carina Press may be more appropriate.

We are pleased to have had the opportunity to see your work, and thank you for thinking of Harlequin Mills & Boon.

Yours Sincerely,

Editorial Department

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