Skip to main content

Romance Gets Real

Harlequin woos nonfiction authors with Deborah Brody’s new imprint. by Kara Gebhart Uhl

When romance publisher Harlequin decided to launch a nonfiction branch, the company brought Deborah Brody on board as executive editor. Having spent years at McGraw-Hill, Penguin’s Dutton/Plume, HarperCollins and Henry Holt, she officially jump-started the new program in September with Love Matters, a collection of stories by radio personality Delilah. Now, Brody is in the market for new titles appealing to women.

What types of nonfiction do you plan to publish?
The overarching mission is nonfiction geared to women, and because women traditionally buy many more books than men, this gives us lots of subject areas in which we can publish. Some of the categories we’re acquiring in are self-help, relationships, health, sex, diet, fitness, beauty, parenting, memoir and inspirational.

Platform is paramount when selling nonfiction, and there are varying degrees of fame. In today’s market, how well known must a writer be to succeed?
It depends on the project. There are certain categories where the concept is what sells the book, not the author and her platform. But that’s increasingly the exception, and I try to seek out authors who really bring something to the table and can work with us to get the word out about their books.
This doesn’t mean they have to be a household name, but rather that they’re already actively reaching their intended reader, even before they have a book. This might be achieved by a popular blog, a magazine column or an extensive speaking schedule.

How do you choose which titles you’ll publish?
Almost everything we acquire comes through agents or ideas that are generated by editors here. I read all the nonfiction submissions, and if I think something is worth pursuing, I take it to our acquisitions committee, which is comprised of editors as well as people from sales, marketing, publicity and finance. We then discuss it as a group and decide if we think it’s right for the list, and what our plan for publishing it would be.

What’s your biggest pet peeve when sifting through queries?
When someone hasn’t done their homework. In the age of the Internet, it doesn’t take more than a few seconds to do a search for “Harlequin nonfiction” and find articles and press releases about the program and what we’re doing. It makes me crazy to get a query for a project that’s so clearly not appropriate for our list.

Are you looking for more titles and, if so, do you accept unsolicited queries?
Yes, we’re definitely looking for more titles, as we’re growing the program quickly. I prefer not to accept unsolicited queries, though, for a few reasons. First, the volume is just so great that I don’t have the time to go through everything, and I hate being that person who never gets back to someone. But [most] importantly, I feel having an agent is so important for an author. Your chance of getting published increases exponentially if you have an agent, so my advice is always to spend your time seeking representation, rather than sending unsolicited queries directly to editors. 

From Script

Character Studies, Writing the Immigrant Experience, and Six Adaptation Steps Before You Adapt a Book (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, navigate different character study approaches in your writing, and tracking emotional journeys.

Lora Senf: On Trusting Children With Middle Grade Fiction

Lora Senf: On Trusting Children With Middle Grade Fiction

Author Lora Senf discusses how one chilling text message led her to writing her new middle grade horror novel, The Clackity.

Katrina Leno: On Writing Around an Idea

Katrina Leno: On Writing Around an Idea

Critically acclaimed novelist Katrina Leno discusses the process of bringing her childhood memories to magical life in her new young adult novel, Sometime in Summer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: A New Podcast Episode, "Your Story" Prompt, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our latest episode of "Writer's Digest Presents," the new "Your Story" prompt, and more!

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2022

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2022

Here are the top live streams, podcasts, and YouTube channels as identified in the 24th Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

What Is Fan Fiction in Writing?

What Is Fan Fiction in Writing?

You might have heard the term, especially if you’re in online fandoms, but what exactly is fan fiction? Managing Editor Moriah Richard explains.

5 Ways To Use Short Stories To Grow as a Writer

5 Ways To Use Short Stories To Grow as a Writer

Short story writing can be a gateway to writing your novel—but they’re also fun and worthy stories in their own right. Here, author Dallas Woodburn shares 5 ways to use short stories to grow as a writer.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is not having an online presence.

Shirlene Obuobi: On Writing From Experience

Shirlene Obuobi: On Writing From Experience

Physician, cartoonist, and author Shirlene Obuobi discusses the writerly advice that led to writing her new coming-of-age novel, On Rotation.