Have you heard? Been reading your copy of ‘Shelf Awareness’ e-newsletter every morning, if you’re a librarian or bookseller? Done a Google search for YA publishers lately?
If you haven’t kept up with what’s going on, it’s pretty big news: Harlequin is jumping on the YA bandwagon with a new imprint, called Harlequin Teen. The website isn’t complete yet, and there are only 3 titles officially announced so far, but this is big stuff. With the popularity of teen/young adult fiction, I suppose it was only a matter of time before everyone jumped on the bandwagon… and for ‘unagented’ authors like myself, a new imprint such as this is a hynotizing, flashing neon sign.
Before you jump out of your seat in outrage, thinking of all the horrible possibilities for teen-directed Harlequin romances, I’ll remind you that in the past decade, Harlequin has branched out create a new image. Yes, they still sell smut, but they also have imprints for Christian romance, fantasy/paranormal fiction, chick lit, historical romance, and now… teen fiction.
For this imprint, they’re looking for:
“Fresh, authentic teen fiction featuring extraordinary characters and extraordinary stories set in contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, science-fiction and historical worlds.”
Hmm. Interesting. The first book in the imprint comes out July 29th, called My Soul to Take, about a teenage bean sidhe (ie. banshee). Now that sounds like an interesting concept! (I wish I’d thought of it… hrrmph.) To help promote this first novel, the author is offering an 80-page e-book prequel for free on the book’s website – which I plan to read. If it’s not half bad, I plan to pick up the book when it’s released, and see how that is. If it’s not half bad as well, I plan to wait for the August & September releases, read those, and see what they’re like.
The good thing about Harlequin imprints is that they take unsolicited manuscripts, and many a writer has begun their career with Harlequin. In the past, that’s meant writing smut and moving upward, but thanks to their new imprints, that isn’t always the case…
Then again, it’s still a publisher known for the “romances” it publishes. Would I be comfortable, morally speaking, being published by a place like this? That’s a question only I can answer for myself (and you for yourself), but it’s something worth considering in the process.
At the very least, it’s a new opportunity to think about, pray about, and examine carefully. Many changes in the publishing industry have recently been viewed as negative – small presses closing, imprints shutting down – and it’s easy to forget all the new and exciting things that are happening. This could be one of them! And I, for one, will be watching closely.