Free development edits for British diverse romance

It’s been a while since I blogged. To be honest, I had the stuffing knocked out of me by Brexit.

There are a lot of things to hate about the results of the EU referendum—the damage to international relations, the economic catastrophe coming our way, the revelation of how mendacious and incompetent our leaders are, the limiting of our children’s prospects etc etc—but right now the worst thing seems to me the level of hateful bigotry it’s revealed and enabled in my nation.

Racism is on the march. We’ve seen the worst ever spike in recorded hate crimes. There have been petrol bombings of shops owned by immigrants, windows smashed, hateful messages and graffiti, people told to “go home” as if this wasn’t their home, as if Britain’s wealth didn’t come from travelling all over the world and stealing anything that wasn’t nailed down and plenty that was, as if we are not an entire nation of immigrants dating back to the first person who ever rowed ashore and immediately complained about the weather. (A Swedish woman was told to “go home” in York. Yes, there’s a place with absolutely no history of Scandinavian immigration AT ALL, you ignorant bags of mince.)

Anyway. I was feeling pretty down about the state of our self-destructing rock in the sea, when I came across this from the excellent Nikesh Shukla on Twitter, whose The Good Immigrant is coming out soon:


This is absolutely right. I am a powerful believer in doing something in times of anxiety, unhappiness and anger, as a way to make myself feel better if nothing else.

I also believe passionately in the importance of fiction, both for a bit of escape and as a way of opening our horizons. To see ourselves and other people reflected in books, to see the world as it should be, to believe for a little while that things will be all right: those are important. Romance is important; diverse romance is doubly important at a time when the worst sort of people are trying to drive out the glorious variety of human experience that makes this country worth living in.

And therefore I am offering two free development edits to two aspiring British BAME romance writers, in an effort to help people towards publication and make for a more inclusive publishing landscape. Please spread and share.

About the offer

  • This is only open to black, Asian, or minority ethnic romance writers of British identity or living in Britain, as a drop-in-the-bucket effort to increase the diversity of British romance.
  • This is only open to aspiring writers, who are aiming for publication but not yet there. I’m trying to give a couple of newbies a hand to get started: please respect that. Anyone who doesn’t meet these criteria but is thinking of scamming a free edit should be aware that I’m really not in the mood. If you’re not sure whether you qualify, ask me below.
  • Romance only please. It can be m/f, or any letter in the LGBTQA+ rainbow; any level of sensuality from none to scorchio. As long as there’s a central love story with a happy-for-now or happy-ever-after ending.
  • I don’t do MSS that include rape, noncon, dubcon, torture or slavery as erotic elements.
  • I specialise in historical and am particularly interested in diverse historical romance, which will be given priority.
  • I will read the MS and send a development letter looking at plot, characterisation, pacing, and top-line elements of style, identifying how to make the book better and more saleable. Two reads, two authors, one MS each, no charge.
  • My schedule resembles the end of The Italian Job and not in a good way, so I am hoping to read these MSS on holiday in August. Therefore I’d ideally like to have complete MSS in by end July. EDIT: If your MS isn’t ready but you’d like to stick your name down anyway, please do. I’ll make time.

Why you should trust me with your MS

I’m an editor of more than twenty years’ experience, several of those as an acquiring editor at Harlequin Mills & Boon where books I edited were RITA-nominated and one a winner. I worked with and acquired a number of aspiring authors from the slush pile who are now published and successful, including some USA Today bestsellers. I am now a freelance romance writer and editor making my living from romance.

As a writer: see my books here. Think of England was voted Best LGBT Romance in the All About Romance 2015 Readers Poll. A Seditious Affair was voted tied first for Best LGBTQ+ Romance in the All About Romance 2016 Readers poll, and received Honourable Mention for Best Romance and Best Historical Romance set in the UK. The Washington Post called A Gentleman’s Position “an emotional, deeply romantic look at the remarkable lengths we will go for love.”

How to apply

If you are a British/UK-dwelling BAME-origin aspiring romance author with a MS that meets the criteria above, comment here (on my blog at and not on Goodreads, to which it copies). Please include a short (two-line) note of what your story’s about, the word count, and if it’s complete. Please leave your email address in the form bit along with your name when you make the comment. (Not in the comment, in case you get spammed).

I will pick the candidates based on who it seems I can best help, starting with diverse British historicals if any are available, because I would really like to read more of those and I’m fundamentally selfish. I may need to email you to chat about suitability. My decision is sole and final.

I’ll announce here when I have filled the slots.

I’ll moderate the hell out of the comments if I have to, so take jerkishness elsewhere.

15 replies
      • Nospheratt
        Nospheratt says:

        Kj, you’re amazing. <3 I'm not British or very experienced, but I'd like to help in any way I can, too. I've been told I'm a good beta reader, and I'm here to offer my time and any kind of support. As Elin said, count me in.

  1. Anna Butler
    Anna Butler says:

    This is a brilliant and heartwarming offer. It’s been a miserable three weeks since we proved we were a country populated by absolute numpties with a far wider streak of racism than even I ever suspected. Good on you for doing something to help.

    Also I’m with Elin – any support others can offer could be brigaded into something substantial.

  2. gerette
    gerette says:

    Love this idea. Being a pro-active agent of change is always a good thing. As a graphic designer and copy editor, I’d love to be a part of this effort as well. I’m not British but we’re all on the same big rock.

  3. Ulrica Oconnor
    Ulrica Oconnor says:

    Swede living in northern Ireland here… we are living in ‘interesting times’ and God do I ever wish things would get a lot more boribg! how I wish I still had the brains for writing 🙁 I used to write all the time but now I struggle to keep sentences together. Same with critiquing and betaing used to be good and thorough at both but lack the focus now… maybe as a test reader /early reviewer sort of thing cos I would love to help somehow…

  4. A.C. Nixon
    A.C. Nixon says:

    K.J. This is such a wonderful and thoughtful gesture. As residents of the world, we all need to do better, and be better. I’ll share this on my social media networks.

  5. BJ Jansen
    BJ Jansen says:

    You are an inspiration and I share your sadness and anger at what has happened. I wish I had more to offer but I will happily beta any such work and as a romance I can offer a review on All About Romance to help with promotion? I can also offer to write a blog post for AAR discussing said books and the need for more such diverse romances.

  6. Rajveer Ro'isin Singh
    Rajveer Ro'isin Singh says:

    Dear Charles,

    I am not sure if this is still open for all, but I am an aspiring author working on a dystopian romance. It’s not at all ready. Truthfully, I have a book proposal, and the first chapter. If I have come too late, I apologise and please do ignore this post but if not, I would like to be throw my name into the hat.

    In keeping with the selection criteria, I am a British Indian woman.

    Would you like to hear more? Do let me know your thoughts?

    Kind regards,

    Ro’isin Singh


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