A small conference update

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I realized I haven’t done this in a good bit, so I thought I’d give you a head’s up on where you can find me (and Carina Press) for the next two months.

This weekend I’m at Liberty State Fiction Writers Conference. I’ll be taking editor pitches, doing an editor panel and giving a TWO hour presentation on author brand and website development to support that brand.If you live in the New Jersey area, they do have a booksigning on Saturday night @ 5:30pm.

April 4th-10th I’ll be at the Romantic Times Convention doing a whole lot of presenting. I have several panels on Wednesday, including one on Publishing in the Digital Age, the Carina Press spotlight and a third that slips my mind right now. I’ll be doing the editor panel on Thursday, and on Friday I’m giving a workshop with Jane Litte of Dear Author and Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches on digital devices (and there might just be a device giveaway in that workshop!) If you live in the Los Angeles area, but aren’t registered for the conference, you can plan to attend both the huge (massive) booksigning on Saturday April 9th as well as the young adult booksigning. If you love digital books, you can check out the Digital Book Expo, open to the public, Friday evening.

April 16th I’ll be appearing at the Nashville RWA chapter’s local conference and giving a presentation on digital publishing and answering a ton of questions. You can find more information here if you live in the Nashville area.

And to cap off my April, the last weekend I’ll be at the Washington DC RWA chapter’s retreat. I’ll also be giving presentations there (sheesh, sounds like I’ll be quite vocal in the month of April)

If you live near any of these reader and author events, and plan to attend, I hope you’ll let me know and look me up so we can say hello!

Comfort Reads and Influences

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For those of you who can’t tell from my cover… Spice ‘n’ Solace is a gay romance. *grin*  More specifically, it’s a gay, futuristic, erotic romance.  Whew.  Lots of descriptors!  From that, have you any idea which authors I consider to be my biggest influences?  You may be surprised that none of the three adjectives apply to those authors’ genres, and even the romance bit came much later.

I was about ten when I became aware of my desire to become an author.  The book prompting that awareness?  Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings.  The entire series (The Belgariad) cemented my love for fantasy novels, and sweet hopeless young men who overcome obstacles, including their own fear, to become the hero who saves the day.  Garion was probably my first crush on a character in a novel.  Despite this… I have never written a fantasy novel.  I started one, long ago, but it was awful.

A second author who greatly influenced me was Agatha Christie.  I adore a good mystery novel and she’s the undisputed queen.  I’ve read every one of her books, and I never once managed to guess the right ending.  I’m choosing to believe that’s because she was so awesome at laying false trails, and not that I’m irretrievably stupid.  :)  Her voice is so precise and proper, yet engaging.  I myself have written two mystery novels.  They both sucked.  But truly, her influence on me lies more in voice.  Between my love of the formal, starched British prose and my own tendency to swear like a sailor, my voice tends to be a combination of both.  Which may be odd, but my husband claims he will always be able to tell whether I’ve written something.

Finally, kudos to the author who made me realize I also loved romance — Johanna Lindsey.  I picked up my first romance novel out of desperation for something to read.  I’d read all the other thrillers and mysteries on the rack and needed a book immediately.  It was going to have to be romance.  Did I choose Gentle Rogue based on story line?  Title?  Nope.  I chose based on cover, definitely cover.  It was one of the Fabio covers and I thought, “What the heck, at least I’ll have something pretty to look at.”  But I loved it.   After that, I read historical romance voraciously, and began my love-affair with the alpha male.  Yes, I wrote a historical romance.  Can you guess?  It sucked, too.

I’ve read all of these books multiple times, because not only are they influences, they’re comfort reads.  On the surface, they’ve got very little in common with what I write.  But somehow, the gay erotic romance works for me.  There’s a lot of fertile ground for conflict, and I love writing about my guys.  And I incorporate things I’ve learned from all three of those authors, although I suspect Agatha would be horrified by how many times I drop the f-bomb!

Readers, authors… care to share your comfort reads or influences?

Find KC Burn online:  Web || Twitter || Facebook || Blog

Road Signs and Beta Heroes

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The hero in my new Carina Press novel, Road Signs, is beta. He’s the heroine’s best friend and a computer geek. He’s quiet and laid back, and while he takes charge of the situations he and Willow find themselves in, no one would accuse him of being an alpha. This is unusual because I’m usually drawn to alphas (probably because I’m married to a beta), so Cam was a departure for me.

I was watching The Office and realized Jim is the ultimate beta hero. Best friend, laid back, cautious about making the first move, very like Cam in Road Signs.

I went through my TV schedule trying to figure out who were some other beta heroes.

Marshall and Ted from How I Met Your Mother are betas.

Rick Castle

Will Schuester (gotta love a man who can sing and dance!)

What other betas can you think of? Do you like reading betas?

Blurb for Road Signs: Briefly captivated by the idea of romance and pretty, shiny weddings, Willow Hawkins agreed to meet her potential boyfriend’s family and quickly realized she’d made a mistake. Stranded in small-town Nowhere, Willow calls her best friend, Cameron Trask, for an escape.

Even though he’ll miss an important job interview, Cam comes to her rescue. When Willow starts to see Cam with new eyes, she wonders how she’s never made the connection from best friend to best lover. Willow has one chance to help the man she loves—join him on a cross-country road trip to get to the interview on time. On the way they’ll face a jealous puppy, an unreliable automobile and weather that threatens to trap them alone…together.

The biggest roadblock she’ll come up against? If Cam gets his dream job, Willow may lose him for good.


Come by my personal blog where Natalie Damschroder and I are having a Hero Worship contest to celebrate our March releases!

Of Dukes and Deceptions

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Is it just me or are we all subconsciously influenced by our surroundings? I ask because I was brought up on the Isle of Wight in the south of England, literally a stone’s throw from Queen Victoria’s Island retreat where she and her extended family spent so much time. We also have Carisbrooke Castle where Charles 1 was incarcerated, until they carted him off to London and chopped his head off, that is. Ouch! Add to that an abundance of castles, Roman ruins and so many ancestral homes that they seem almost commonplace, and I suppose it’s little wonder that I always wanted to read and write about bygone times.

Okay, so my first ever novel, written was I was just fifteen, was all about horses and ponies, with me doing what I was unable to achieve in real life and winning all the classes hands down. But that’s every adolescent girl’s dream, isn’t it? My first ‘proper’ attempt at writing occurred when I was in my early twenties and was fixed in the colourful Regency period. I just love the idea of gentlemen in tight-fitting breeches, hiding rakish tendencies beneath impeccable manners and brooding temperaments. They revert to type once they get into the bedroom, thank goodness, but my feisty heroines give them a good run for their money before they’re allowed to have their wicked way.

My Regency romp, Of Dukes and Deceptions, released by Carina Press today is a case in point. My hero, Nicholas Buchanan, the Duke of Dorchester, impulsively accepts an invitation from a complete stranger to visit his stud farm. To counter his boredom he fixes his sights on Alicia Woodley, the poor relation, striking a wager with his valet that he’ll bed her before his sojourn at Ravenswing Manor comes to an end. You must forgive him his arrogance. He’s a duke, for goodness sake. A young, handsome and highly eligible duke, much in demand and used to everyone cow-towing to his slightest whim. No one’s ever dared to tell him that he’s high-handed and arrogant.

Until now. Alicia doesn’t have any such qualms. She dislikes him intently and doesn’t hesitate to say so. But she also finds his presence strangely compelling. He’s made his intentions towards her abundantly clear.

Dare she? What would you do in her place? What’s your take on flawed heroes? Are all flaws acceptable just so long as they’re fixable or do certain traits put you off?

Before Alicia can make up her mind about this particular flawed individual someone attempts to kill her, bringing out Nick’s protective instincts in spades. As they conspire to uncover secrets that the family wants to keep hidden at all costs, they discover a passion that surpasses all obstacles. Is Nick the same arrogant individual we meet at the start of the story or has Alicia humbled him?

Want to know more? Then visit my website at http://www.wendysoliman.com. You can read the entire first chapter there and enter a contest to win a copy of the novel.

Happy reading. I hope you enjoy Of Dukes and Deceptions. Please let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you.

Wendy Soliman

Follow Wendy at: Twitter; Facebook; Goodreads; eHarlequin community.com; www.wendysoliman.com

NetGalley Requests

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Like the rest of the Carina Press team, I wear many hats in my day-to-day duties. One of these includes managing the NetGalley program. What is NetGalley you ask? NetGalley is a program that we use to distribute advanced reading copies (ARCs for short) to reviewers, booksellers, and librarians.

How does this work? Publishers, such as Carina, upload ARCs to the NetGalley public catalog. Members then browse the catalog and request titles that interest them. The publisher can either approve or decline the request.

I’ve been receiving quite a few questions lately about what criteria we use in approving or declining requests. So to clear up any confusion, I present:

NetGalley 101: How to Increase Your Chances of an Accepted NetGalley Carina Request

(Note: Each publisher on NetGalley has their own set of criteria for vetting requests. An acceptable public bio for one publisher doesn’t necessarily guarantee you approved requests from other publishers. The suggestions below will only help you receive approved requests for Carina Press titles only.)

1) Include A Direct Link to Your Reviews

If you are a reviewer, the very first thing I will look for in your public bio is a direct link to the reviews that you have written. If you don’t put anything else in your bio, except a direct link to your reviews, I am a happy camper.

If you are the sole reviewer on your book blog, the url is fine. However, if the book review site you contribute to for has 2 or more reviewers, then I would like you to provide a direct link to either your reviews or your profile on that site.

For example, if you review for Goodreads, LibraryThing, Amazon, or any other review aggregate website, I need the direct link to your reviews. These websites are very robust and each have a lot of members/reviewers, so a direct route to your reviews would be best.

Here is an example of a direct link:

Links to the home page aren’t direct links:


Basically, I am looking to see that you are an established reviewer who has written a number of reviews.

2) You Regularly Update an Established Book Blog

If you have your own book blog, I am looking to see if you’ve been around 3 months or more, have some regular followers, and update on a regular basis (doesn’t have to be daily, but active).

3) Include Information on the Number of Unique Visitors You Receive in a Month

I’m looking at the volume of traffic your website receives to verify that you have an established book blog.

4) Put all Relevant Information at the Beginning of Your NetGalley Public Bio

Some NetGalley members put a lot of personal information in their public bios, which is cool, but this means that relevant information can get buried in your public bio which can result your request being declined because I didn’t see your direct link.

5) Criteria I Do Not Look At

Other publishers may require you to have some of the criteria listed below, but these factors don’t influence the approval process for Carina titles:

-The number of books or a list of the books you’ve read this year, month, etc.
-Work information that does not relate to books; I only look at work information if you are a bookseller or a librarian and then, whether or not you are responsible for adult fiction titles.
-Twitter or Facebook accounts
-Personal information about your family, friends, pets, etc.
-Information about your other interests that don’t pertain to books.

You can see the official Carina Press Approval Preferences on NetGalley here:

There’s No Time Like the Past

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by Dana Grimaldi
eHarlequin Copy Editor

I am not a competitive person. But when it comes to time travel, I’ll put all reservations aside.

Let me explain. Every Tuesday morning, I go to work looking forward to the Carina Press acquisitions meeting. I love discussing the manuscripts I’ve read with fellow team members, and I love hearing about the new books we’ll be publishing. One of my favorite parts of the meeting comes when Angela goes through the list of books we’re going to look at for the next week. If I hear that a manuscript we’re considering involves time travel, the competitive spirit awakens within me, and I’ll jump at the chance to read it.

So far, I’ve read two time travel manuscripts for Carina Press, and I’ve been thrilled to recommend that we acquire both of them. Reading these books only served to remind me of how much I love a good time travel story, which got me to thinking…what makes a time travel story good? The best time travel stories make the most of the genre’s unique strength: characters who travel in time can do things characters in your average story could never imagine. I’ve made a list of the top three things that are (for the most part) unique to time travel stories.

1. Characters can reunite with someone they’ve lost.

One of my favorite moments in time travel stories is when a character runs into an older/younger/alternate version of someone they’ve lost. One of the best examples of this occurs in the story Days of Future Past. For those of you not familiar with the comic book heroes known as the X-men, I’ll give you some background. At the beginning of the story, Kitty Pryde, the newest and youngest member of the X-men, finds herself struggling to find her place among the superhero team. She’s particularly frightened by the mutant Nightcrawler, whose demonic appearance once made him the target of a violent mob in his native Germany. When the future Kitty Pryde travels back in time to inhabit the body of her younger self, she finds herself surrounded by the loving adoptive family who, in her time, were almost all killed—including Nightcrawler, whom she’d grown to love and trust. The future Kitty’s reaction to seeing her friends is heartbreaking. Especially when she embraces Nightcrawler and calls him by his given name: Kurt. The ability of time travel to bring people into contact with those they’ve lost is a compelling storytelling device. I think the reason I find it so interesting is that in a way, it’s like time traveling gives characters the ability to defeat death.

2. Characters can fix a past mistake.

In the movie Timecop, police officer Max Walker is unable to prevent his wife and unborn child from being killed in a violent home invasion. The 20th century cop is no match for the group of thugs with futuristic weapons who surprise him in the night. Years later, he gets the chance to go back and make things right; he saves his family using his knowledge of the past as well as impressive kicking skills. We’ve all wondered what life would be like if we could go back and change something in the past, which is why it’s so satisfying to see characters get the chance to do so.

3. We get to see what life might be like in the future or what life was like in the past.

For years, writers have created compelling visions of what the future might be. Anyone who remembers what life was like before cell phones and the internet knows how fast technology is changing, and how much those changes affect our everyday lives. The chance to see what these changes might be is always interesting.  One of my favorite parts of Back to the Future part 2 is Marty’s experiences in the future Hill Valley. I’m still disappointed that hover boards haven’t been invented yet!

The flip side is equally interesting—looking back to see what life was like in the past and how people lived. One of the time travel manuscripts I read for Carina Press is a great example of this. In Ruth A. Casie’s time travel story, a woman travels back to 17th century England. I loved seeing what everyday life in an English manor house was like. The story shows how some aspects of our lives haven’t changed that much, while others seem very strange to a reader with “modern” sensibilities. The heroine found out just how different things were when she was attacked by a band of assassins: she was expected to cower in fear while the men took care of things. I don’t want to spoil the story, but I will say that this didn’t go over well with the feisty Rebecca, who holds a black belt.

While I was writing this post, I couldn’t help but remember a few of my favorite time travel stories. I love all three Back to the Future films, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and especially Primer. My favorite time travel books include The Singing Stone by O. R. Melling, A Handful of Time by Kit Pearson, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling, Once a Gambler by Carrie Hudson and a new favorite, Ruth A. Casie’s soon-to-be-retitled Carina Press book.

Did I miss any great time travel stories? What are your favorite time travel books and why do you like them?

Kinky for You

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managecover Years ago, an author friend advised me to read erotic fiction to write better romance. I took her suggestion. What could I lose? The first book I studied was The Best American Erotica, an anthology series. I was unexpectedly moved by a short story by Anne Tourney. The story was titled Full Metal Corset. It wasn’t erotic steampunk; Full Metal Corset was BDSM erotica. Fiercely stylized and allegorical, the story still held some fundamental truths. First among these truths? The importance of consent. The heroine in Full Metal Corset doesn’t just agree to a BDSM dynamic; she is outright eager to explore her kink side. It influenced me big time.

I absolutely adore reading a story where the heroine strides out into the big, bad world, determined to get what she needs. I’d like to think Mrs. Giggles, one of my favorite online romance reviewers, would agree. The irreverent and pithy Mrs. Giggles had this to say about MaryJanice Davidson’s Under Cover, an erotic romance:

“Now this is how it should be done! … The heroines have sex because they want to, and best of all, they know they want to have sex and how to go around doing it. If you are tired of all those contrived “erotic” brainwaste books that have the heroines either stripping for martyrhood purposes or worse, MaryJanice Davidson is here to guide you back to the fold.”

According to Mrs. Giggles, such zeal is rare in erotic romance. It’s even harder to find in BDSM fiction. To create drama, BDSM heroines are often innocents who have to be lured into the BDSM “lifestyle” by an experienced Dominant. The heroine is oblivious to her true nature. But the Dominant knows. In some supernatural way, he is certain the heroine is a sub, and the sub is meant for him. He can tell just by looking at her.

I call this the “Kinky for You” plot. Sure, the heroine ultimately gets a Happily Ever After, but where’s her self-awareness? Why doesn’t she know what she wants? The Kinky for You trope can veer into distasteful territory when the Dominant uses trickery, or blackmail, or even kidnapping, to get his mate.

Portraying a BDSM romantic hero as a predator, and his partner as TSTL (no matter how happy they all end up) just doesn’t do it for me. Such BDSM tropes may be titillating, but they are also exploitative and disrespectful. Respect matters because, unlike cougar shifters or time-traveling hunks, kinky people and kinky relationships are real.

Carina Press is doing the BDSM niche proud. One Real Thing by Anah Crow and Dianne Fox, for example, subtly and sensitively explores a long-term Dom/sub relationship. And then there’s Coin Operated by Ginny Glass, a charming story of a new couple experimenting with BDSM in a fun and positive way.

So what do you think? Have you ever read a BDSM romance? A BDSM erotica? Were you squicked out or engaged? Please do tell!


Management Skills, my latest BDSM story, is now available.

January Rowe’s Blog

Playing What If…

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Like many authors, I was often accused as a child of having an overactive imagination. (This won’t surprise anyone who knows me.) So even before I was writing stories down, I was playing with concepts in my head, mostly after bedtime and before I fell asleep. What if there were vampires on spaceships? What if the family from Lost in Space actually found another planet actually inhabited by nice people? What if I met a cool guy and later discovered he was actually a prince? Okay, I’ll admit, most of my what-if’s even then, involved romance.

When Steampunk started appearing in SF, I loved the concept. What if the Victorians had robots? Perfect. Mind you I always loved Wild, Wild West (the old Robert Conrad TV show, and later the Will Smith movie.) The whole dark, depressing dystopian thing, though—not really my speed. I also loved the movie Van Helsing, right up until the end. Why the heck couldn’t his love have lived? What if she had?

So eventually, I decided I had to write a Steampunk romance. The whole concept was just too darned much fun. And vampyres—had to have those. What about some street kids and a plucky, upper-crust governess? Introducing the Order of the Round Table is all my husband’s fault, really. When I asked about a group that would protect England from supernatural threats, he said, “What if the Round Table never went away—they just went underground?” See, he’s good at what if, too. Hence the book that started life as Mary Poppins meets Van Helsing—with robots. NOT the title I sent to my editor, of course.

I’d love for you to check out Steam & Sorcery, the first in my new Gaslight Chronicles series, which debuted yesterday from Carina Press. To celebrate the new release, I’m running a contest. Comment on any (or all) of the blogs I visit on my blog tour this week. One entry per person, per blog stop. You can visit my blog to find the other stops. After the final stops on Sunday, March 13, I’ll draw one winner for a free download of Steam & Sorcery, or their choice of my other available titles. Happy Reading!


Steam & Sorcery Cover

Steam & Sorcery
Gaslight Chronicles #1
By Cindy Spencer Pape
Buy here from Carina Press

Sir Merrick Hadrian hunts monsters, both human and supernatural. A Knight of the Order of the Round Table, his use of magick and the technologies of steam power have made him both respected and feared. But his considerable skills are useless in the face of his greatest challenge, guardianship of five unusual children. At a loss, Merrick enlists the aid of a governess.

Miss Caroline Bristol is reluctant to work for a bachelor but she needs a position, and these former street children touch her heart. While she tends to break any mechanical device she touches, it never occurs to her that she might be something more than human. All she knows is that Merrick is the most dangerously attractive man she’s ever met—and out of reach for a mere governess.

When conspiracy threatens to blur the distinction between humans and monsters, Caroline and Merrick must join forces, and the fate of humanity hinges upon their combined skills of steam and sorcery…



Cindy Spencer Pape is an avid reader of romance, fantasy, mystery, and even more romance who firmly believes in happily-ever-after. Married for many years to her own, sometimes-kilted hero, she lives in southern Michigan with him, two grown sons, and an ever-changing menagerie of pets. Cindy has been, among other things, a banker, a teacher, and an elected politician, but mostly an environmental educator, though now she is lucky enough to write full-time. Her degrees in zoology and animal behavior almost help her comprehend the three male humans who share her household.

Website: http://www.cindyspencerpape.com
Blog: http://cindyspencerpape.blogspot.com/
Newsletter group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cspapenewsgroup/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/CindySPape
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100000270304390

Introducing: Carly Chow

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Today, Carly is my favorite person because she gave an answer that allowed me to include a picture of a shirtless dude–one special shirtless dude who I happen to have a few pictures of on my computer. Pictures I have for…work purposes. Ha. Anyway. Carly is another of those quiet ones I talk about, who’s quiet and then has a sense of humor that sneaks up on you. Also, I have tremendous appreciation for Carly because I get to direct a lot of not-so-fun tasks her way (tracking contest winners, sending out prizes, etc. Also, she’s the one who had charge of the Carina holiday cards that went out to each Carina author this year, and she had to track down every Carina team member to get them signed. And live with the piles of glitter the cards left on her desk). But, as is the case with the Carina team members, she also does those tasks with an incredible cheer and graciousness, and you can’t help but be so grateful she’s on your team!

AJ: To start, tell us your job title as well as what you do for Harlequin and Carina.

Love this pic of Carly's cubicle

CC: My job title is Coordinator of Digital Commerce. It basically means I do a lot of marketing and publicity for our eBooks, both Harlequin and Carina Press. A sampling of my duties include: managing the Carina Press NetGalley program and reviews, overseeing the production and distribution of promotional items, finding new opportunities to market our eBooks at conventions, and managing relationships with our third-party vendors.

AJ: What did your mom say when you told her you’d be working for Harlequin?

CC: Her exact words (err, word?): Ohh, Good! (insert Chinese accent)

OK, so some context, before I landed my current position I was the unpaid intern in the Harlequin public relations department. And before that? Umm, also an unpaid intern at a different publishing house… And before that? I was an umemployed (and homeless) bum flailing about South Africa and Western Europe… And before that? Working a dead-end job for the City of Edmonton… And before that? A poor, poor English major.

My mom was so relieved that I found a decent and respectable job, so that she could (obviously) totally brag to her friends. :-D Kidding! (No, not really) Love you Mom! (AJ: Your mom sounds funny!)

AJ: What was the last book you purchased to give as a gift?

CC: Neuromancer by William Gibson. An old professor recommended it to me as one of the quintessential science fiction novels, I wasn’t really into sci fi at this point, but I gave it a shot. OMG, it was so fantastic. Science fiction is now one of my favorite genres to read and it’s all because of this book (seriously, go and get a copy). I gave Neuromancer as a Christmas present to someone and it’s now in their top 10 best ever list.

AJ: Whose job would you like to have for one day and why?

CC: I would like to be the person who “adjusts” David Beckham’s briefs in those Armani underwear photo shoots. Why? Uhh, because it’s David Beckham? (AJ: I knew I was keeping those pictures of Beckham on my computer for a reason. This post was it, I’m sure of it.)

AJ: What are you reading right now? What was the last Harlequin or Carina book you read?

CC: Like Eleanor, I’m not terribly faithful to my books. I like to read around a lot and I’ve been around the bookshelves a couple times. Currently I’m reading Outside In by Maria V. Snyder, the sequel to Inside Out, as my main book and I’ve got a little something on the side with The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut.

AJ: Dark, milk or white chocolate? Or no chocolate?

CC: I don’t know when chocolate is ever a bad idea. Chocolate bars, chocolate milk, Raisinets, brownies, chocolate cake, truffles, fudge, pudding…. It all tastes delicious in my mouth. (AJ: Knew I liked her. Beckham and chocolate. It’s like we’re soul sisters)

Things we don’t reject books for…

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Every so often, I get either a panicked email from someone who’s submitted and are convinced their manuscript is going to be rejected for forgetting some basic information in some part of their submission, or I’ll receive a reply to a standard rejection, with the person informing me they know we must have rejected their book for XYZ reason. So I thought it would be helpful if we had a blog post highlighting some of the reasons we at Carina Press do not reject manuscripts.

1. We don’t reject manuscripts because they’re not romance.

Yes, we publish romance. But we also publish non-romance. We don’t reject a book because it didn’t have romance (or as one author said, because it wasn’t a “bodice ripper”), or because it does. We’re interested in adult genre fiction, both romance and non-romance, and a quick browse through our catalog will show you we publish both.

2. We don’t reject manuscripts because they’re not…trashy, sweet, sexy, innocent enough.

Along the same lines as #1. We’re not rejecting manuscripts left and right over here because there’s not enough sex or because there’s too much sex. We don’t have a secret sex-meter set up that uses a complex algorithm to calculate whether there’s enough sex and dings when the book hits that just-right stage. Write the heat level that fits your work. If that means there’s no sex because it’s not a romance or because it’s a sweet romance, fine by us.

3. We don’t reject manuscripts because you forgot to put your word count, genre, pen name, or some other basic information.

Trust me, this happens…all the time. If we rejected everyone based on just this, we’d only have about 10% of submissions left to look at. So take a deep breath, don’t panic, and let us evaluate your story, rather than your ability to follow directions.

4. Which leads me to…we don’t reject manuscripts because you didn’t follow directions for submitting.

But we will ask you to resubmit. We don’t look at incomplete submissions, but we don’t send a rejection either.

5. We don’t reject manuscripts because we don’t like the author (or because someone else has told us they don’t like the author).

I’m not sure I should even say this, someone out there is going to get paranoid, but it’s important to us that we like your manuscript, not necessarily that we like the author. We can read the internet as well as the next person. We know you can be abrasive, irritate your fellow authors, say unkind things and generally be a bit of a pill. If your book is good, we’re willing to overlook all that. (Caveat: this is different than someone who’s publicly made a general ass out of themselves and/or acted incredibly unprofessionally with us or with others. Yeah, we might reject a manuscript for that)

6. We don’t reject a manuscript because it falls in too many genres.

Look, we published a m/m paranormal erotic menage romance w/thriller elements. If you’ve written a good book, we’ll find a spot for it.

7. We don’t reject a manuscript because it falls in too “niche” a genre or isn’t a genre that seems hot right now or because it’s in an unusual time, place or setting.

See #6. If you’ve written a good book, we’ll find a spot for it.

8. We don’t reject a manuscript because it has a terrible title, we hate the character names or your pseudonym.

But if we acquire it, we might ask you to change those things!

9. We don’t reject a manuscript just because your previous book at another publisher didn’t do so well with readers, reviewers and sales.

But we’re going to be looking at all of the elements to see if we can figure out why that happened.

10. We don’t reject a manuscript because the characters are physically imperfect or have a handicap, aren’t beautiful or glamorous, or don’t fit some character stereotype. Or because of their background or profession.

I present Shall We Drown in Feathered Sleep by Michael Merriam as Exhibit A

11. We don’t reject a manuscript because the author doesn’t have a blog, participate in Twitter, Facebook or the social media of the month.

But if we acquire the manuscript, we will be asking you about marketing and promotion plans, and encouraging an updated, simple website.

12. We don’t reject a manuscript because of a few typos, or because the author doesn’t have a thorough grasp of grammar.

We do want a submission that’s been self edited, and maybe been looked at by a critique partner or beta reader. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Just not sloppy and disrespectful in its un-edited state. And we will look for signs of learning via the editing process in future manuscripts. If you keep submitting manuscripts with the same errors always pointed out, we’ll have to talk.

13. We don’t reject a manuscript because a Harlequin imprint has rejected it.

Being rejected by a Harlequin imprint doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not “good enough”, it can simply mean it doesn’t fit that line’s guidelines and requirements. Harlequin editors have actually recommended authors send to us instead. So a rejection from a Harlequin imprint doesn’t mean a rejection from Carina.

14. We don’t reject a manuscript because it’s got bad formatting, the wrong font style or size, or is the wrong format.

If it’s the wrong format, I’ll simply ask you to resubmit. If the formatting is wonky, well, we can fix that. And font size/type is easy to change for our reading pleasure. Do we want you to use a standard format and font? Yes, please, don’t get creative. Not only is it hard on our eyes and does take a few extra minutes to change, but creative formatting can make a file too large, which makes it unwieldy to move around from email to device and back again.

15. We don’t reject a manuscript because you used first, third, second or omniscient POV.

We’ll read and publish books in any POV, as long as it’s a good book and it suits the story.

16. We don’t reject a book because you didn’t write a good synopsis

Now, with this one, I must admit that it can make it harder to acquire the book, but it doesn’t make it an automatic rejection. Harder to acquire because sometimes the acquisition team looks to the synopsis for answers during the acquisition process. Also, we use the synopsis post acquisition for marketing, cover art and cover copy, so a good synopsis does matter. But we don’t reject a manuscript based on the synopsis.

17. We don’t reject a manuscript because the editor doesn’t like the genre.

We make every effort to match manuscripts to editors, and if an editor gets a manuscript in a genre that doesn’t suit her but she sees the merit of the writing, she asks to pass it on. We have several authors who now work with two editors at Carina Press, because one editor works on one genre with them, and the other editor works on the other. Sometimes, it is about getting in front of the right editor, and we recognize that.

18. We don’t reject a manuscript because we’ve rejected one of your manuscripts before.

You might not hit on the first manuscript, or even the second or third. But we’ll keep reading your submissions as long as you keep writing them, and we might find that perfect fit for us eventually.

19. We don’t reject a manuscript because you didn’t address us by name in the query letter (or addressed us by the wrong name).

It’s hard to know how to address a query letter, when you’re not sending to a specific person. We know and we look past that. I’ve had people call me by the wrong name (ie: hello, Samantha, remember when we met at XYZ conference and we talked about your daughter?) and while it makes me laugh (and groan) it’s not cause for rejection. Do pay attention to details, but don’t stress if you realize you’ve gotten it wrong.

If you’re wondering why we do reject manuscripts, you can read one of my older posts here. At the heart of it is that we’re really quite interested in a good story. Now, will we get aggravated if you don’t follow submission guidelines and you do some of the things mentioned? You bet we will. And aggravation is not always the best frame of mind you want in an editor. But none of these things will cause us to reject a manuscript. Of course, if you combine a whole bunch of these into one submission package, like the errors, bad formatting, wrong name, terrible synopsis, we might wonder just how well you’d do when it comes time to edit–attention to detail is crucial at that stage.

At the end of the day, here’s what we ask: Write a good story. Write your very best story. Edit it. Edit again. Ask someone else to look at it. Let it sit for a few weeks, before you hit send. Look at it again. Read our submissions guidelines. Follow them. Write an informative query letter. Send your submission. And then give us time to read it and don’t follow-up until our timeframe is up or until you need to tell us someone else has offered for it and we have two weeks to give you our decision. All the while you’re waiting, be writing your next story. Your very best story. Because writing your very best story is how you don’t get rejected.