Mills & Boon, one of the world’s leading publishers of women's fiction and the name synonymous with romance, has started a short story writing contest, called Passions, for India.
In an email interview, Andrew Go, director, India operations, Harlequin Mills & Boon India, says, “We have more than 1,300 authors worldwide who help us to publish more than 100 new titles each month. We're constantly looking for new talent, something we know there is an abundance of in India.”
He adds, “We have always welcomed submissions from around the world but this is the first time we're pro actively sending an invite for aspiring authors to come join us and where better to start than in India, the land of love. Whether it is the music, movies or television soaps, love is everywhere, it's all here.”
The stories can be up to 2,000 words and can be set in the locales of Rome, Paris, Mumbai, London or any other romantic location. “The story should have the capacity to capture the hearts and minds of readers across the world,” adds Andrew. To make sure that the stories have an Indian flavour, all the entries need to have a 'desi' element to it, either through the location, character or other devices.
The short story contest will have three winners and the results will be announced on February 4, 2009. The winning submission will be published by Mills & Boon and its author will receive consultation for a year from the editorial staff, apart from other gifts including laptops and diamond jewellery. Two runners up will each receive constructive critiques of their submissions and an editorial consultation. In addition, all three finalists will also receive one year's subscription of the M&B series.
The winner of the contest will have the story published both online and in the current books of the publication. “We hope that with the help with our year long editorial consultation, the winner will be able to complete a full manuscript, which we can then publish worldwide under our M&B Modern series,” says Andrew. He adds that the full manuscript of the winning title will be translated into more than 20 different languages and sold in more than 100 countries.
The short stories, apart from being gripping from the start, need to be in sync with the M&B stories and have a happy ending. “Story concepts should be original and must not have won prizes or awards earlier, nor previously submitted, reproduced or published,” adds Andrew.
The publication has many other India centric plans lined up. “Our Indian operations have lots of ideas which we'd like to explore in the coming months and years. As you can imagine, we're still in relatively early stages as we just launched our operations last February.” the publishers are keen on exploring vernacular languages, subscription/book club programmes and other formats such as eBooks, mobile content, audio books and manga.
The publication ran similar, but smaller sized, contests in South Africa and Japan earlier. Based on the success of the Indian contest, the publishers plan to extend it to other markets.
For the record, in February 2008, the year Harlequin Mills & Boon celebrated its centenary, it launched its fully owned subsidiary, Harlequin Mills & Boon India Pvt. Ltd. based in Mumbai, with a satellite office in Delhi. The Indian operations are responsible for publishing, printing and distributing internationally famed romance novels in the Indian market. It publishes around 10 titles every month, spread over three series – Modern, Romance and Desire.