Top 5 Reasons to Enter Harlequin’s “So You Think You Can Write Contest”


It’s time once again for Harlequin’s global So You Think You Can Write contest. If you are interested in writing series/category romance, then this is the contest for you.

I entered the contest last year and made it all the way to the final Top 10. The benefits were amazing, and for me, many of those benefits occurred before the Top 10 Finalists were announced.

While more than five great reasons to enter the contest exist, here are my Top 5:

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5.  Free Online Writers’ Conference. The week before the contest submission period opens, Harlequin staff and editors host a five-day online conference featuring editor Q&As, writing tips, and opportunities for feedback on the first page and synopsis of your manuscript. These ladies and gents equip you with all the tools you need to write a great series romance (except the ability to craft words on the page effectively–that’s totally on you) and select the right Harlequin imprint to target for your entry.

4.  Exposure to Editors at the Largest Romance Publisher In the World. Here’s your chance to be read by editors of the publishing house that sells more romance novels than any other publisher in the world. All Harlequin editors are tasked with giving the SYTYCW contest priority during the contest period. They all participate in the triage and judging of entries. No agent needed. No requirement to pitch via Twitter or online or in person. Just submit an 100-word blurb for your story and your first chapter during the entry period, and you’re in. If you’ve ever wanted to write for Harlequin, this is the best time of year to give it a shot. Harlequin contracted over ten new authors from the participants of last year’s contest.

3.  Expedited Response On Your Submission. Authors languish in agony week after week, sometimes month after month, waiting for responses to their submissions. Interested in knowing where you stand in as little as one to two weeks? This is the contest for you. Check the contest’s timeline to see when authors will be notified of whether they have made it to the next round of competition.

2.  Chance to Win A Two-Book Contract and Premium Author’s Package. Yep. You read this right. I consider the prize package to be only the second best reason to enter the contest. It is indeed an awesome package, though, so check out the specifics on the SYTYCW website. However, as the saying goes, “there can be only one” (winner that is). So, for me, this doesn’t rank as the top reason for the hundreds of other entrants (over 600 authors entered this contest last year) to give the contest a whirl. After all, as indicated in Reason #4, others besides the winner may also be offered Harlequin contracts. Nevertheless, being able to market yourself as the winner of Harlequin’s global So You Think You Can Write contest, way beyond cool!

1.  Get ‘Er Done and Put ‘Er Out There. Some authors need the hard press of a deadline to actually finish a work-in-progress. What better motivation to get it done than Reasons #2 through #5? It worked for me last year. I hadn’t finished the manuscript I wanted to enter by the start of the contest, but the possibility of being a finalist motivated me to get it done by the full manuscript deadline. If you are an author (and not just a writer), you must finish something and put it out for others to read. You have to stop tweaking and editing and polishing and hiding. Writers: they write and edit and talk about writing and edit some more. Authors: they finish writing and finish editing and make their works available for others to read. If you are an unpublished author, it might seem daunting to display your work on the international platform this contest provides. However, the upside is that every public distribution of your work after this one should seem easy (or, at least, easier).

If series/category romance readers are your target market, and you are interested in pursuing a traditional publishing deal, get ‘er done and enter Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest.

Thanks for stopping by. Please let me know your thoughts on contests. Also, if you are new to the Harlequin contest this year, please leave a comment below on what excites you (or terrifies you) most about the contest. For those of you who’ve entered the contest in prior years, what were some of your greatest lessons or benefits?

Copyright © 2014 Lisa Rayne. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Hi Lisa,
    What a great summary of our online conference and writing contest currently running here at Harlequin! Thanks for spreading the word to all writers. We are looking forward to reading first chapter submissions starting Monday, September 22 when we open for entries.

    Birgit Davis-Todd
    Senior Executive Editor

    1. Birgit, thanks for the kind words. I love what you all do with this contest. The online conference taught me so much last year. Looking forward to first chapter submissions next week. I hope this post inspires more authors to enter SYTYCW.


  2. Helen: Congratulations on taking the plunge! I would agree that one of the greatest aspects of SYTYCW is the virtual community of writers who offer each other outstanding support and encouragement. Good luck with the contest.

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