No, HMB don't mind direct approaches-- 3 chapters and synopsis with brief covering letter. The only thing you do need to do is target one of their 'lines' very specifically -- which means reading plenty first. There's soooooo much out there on the internet to help aspiring HMB authors; sites like eharlequin.com, the pink heart society and squillions of author blogs. It's all very supportive and welcoming.
It varies HUGELY between the various lines. The bestselling one is Presents, which sells all over the world and the royalties for each book reflect that. Some of the other imprints-- medicals for example-- are pretty much confined to a UK market and so have much lower royalty rates.
Hmmh, maybe dh should try his luck at romance novels. Would be quite a change from the fantasy and sci-fi books he's written so far. Or maybe I should pick up my pen again..in the vast amounts of spare time I have in my life
I read squillions of romances over the summer ("it's research honey, honest!") but did not think to note titles/publishers/genres. Which would now be very darned helpful in thinking through "mine's like... and I should send it ...". Sigh. Anyway don't suppose it matters for now!
Well, yes, but my dh works too. Because of the way the system works it takes a few years to reach your max earning potential (you write book, you get advance, you wait a year until book appears on shelves, when advance is out-earned you get royalties, as book is released in other countries you get more royalites) But in the meantime you've written 3 more books (they like 3 or 4 a year). So it's all a big cycle, and most HMB authors do earn a very nice living from it.