Romantic Novelists' Association

Hints & Tips For New Writers #9

15 October 2018

This month we have another guest post by Mills & Boon author Catherine Tinley, who won the RITA for her very first book – so we can assume she knows what she’s doing! Enjoy her hints & tips and have a great month, Jenni X

Waltzing with the Earl was my first book, the first manuscript I’d ever sent to a publisher. I’d never entered a competition or taken part in a blitz before. I had no clue about the help that was out there. I simply wrote the book that I’d have loved to read.

That it was picked up by Harlequin Mills and Boon was amazing. A two book contract! That it then was shortlisted as a double finalist (Best First Book, Best Historical Romance [short]) in the RITA® awards was incredible. To actually win the RITA was an experience I’ll never forget.  

And yet, this was no ‘overnight success’ based solely on luck. I’d been writing for many years, honing my craft, finding my voice. I just never felt that any of my previous projects were good enough to be sent anywhere. I think it was a golfer who said ‘The more I practice, the luckier I get’. The same is true, I think, for writing.

As soon as I’d finished writing Waltzing, I knew it was different. I sent it to four publishers – all publishing Regency romance. I got three rejections back, which were tough to receive. But the fourth… the fourth was Harlequin Mills & Boon editor Julia Williams, and she requested the full manuscript.

She wondered if I would be willing to make some changes, to make it a better fit for what their readers like. I agreed (of course I did!) and worked hard on the revisions. They wanted more attention on the central love story, and toning down the secondary characters, so I did that. That’s what led to the contract, and my name on an actual book.

Since then, I’ve met quite a few writers who are so disappointed by rejection that they give up on that project. So here’s my key tip: If an editor, publisher or agent says ‘No thanks’ or ‘Maybe’ but goes on to make suggestions as to how to strengthen the piece, listen to them! It means they see merit in it, and have taken the time to show you how to improve it. Advice from an industry professional is hard to come by, so don’t waste it.

Here are a few more of my tools & tips. I hope you find them helpful. 




Catherine Tinley writes warm, witty Regency romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon. Her Chadcombe Marriages trilogy is out now.
Waltzing with the Earl, The Captain’s Disgraced Lady, The Makings of a Lady