How do acquisitions work at Carina Press?

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It’s been a while since our last update on the acquisition process at Carina Press, and a few things have changed! We hope the following will serve as a handy update, and give you even more insight into our process and the accompanying timelines.

To start, all submissions are now routed through our Submittable inbox: Even when a submission is sent directly to me, Kerri, or a freelance editor from a returning or referred author, the submission is ingested into Submittable so we can track it in our system, and have a record of all submissions.

Within Submittable, you now have the option of directing your submission to a particular editor. Did you read on the blog that Rhonda Helms is looking for diverse books? See a What Carina Wants Twitter post about Deb Nemeth looking for sexy historicals? Get a request for a full from Alissa Davis? You’re now able to send your manuscripts directly to their attention.

Although you’re able to direct your submission to a particular editor, you don’t have to. Unassigned submissions are still sent out for reads on a preference basis. This means I keep a spreadsheet (a very thorough spreadsheet) of editor genre preferences. They’ve indicated if a genre is preferred, something they’ll read or something they don’t want to see. This allows me to match up editors and manuscripts, so no editor is reading a genre they don’t enjoy, and they are often reading genres they love. Additionally, I check in with the editors every few months to see if they want to make updates or changes, or if they’d like to see more or less of a genre. Also, I should mention that freelance editors are paid for each step of the process, so we’re not asking for free labor from our freelancers and they have incentive to meet the deadlines (and incentive to read, read, read your submissions. It’s a win all around!)

When editors indicate they’re ready to read submissions, I send them out in batches of ten. Editors then have a week to respond with a preliminary report (of a few sentences to a paragraph for each book) based on a read of no more than 3 chapters (and often much less, as they get good at weeding through submissions). Do they recommend rejection, a full read or a look by another editor? Sometimes it’s a genre they enjoy, but a particular book is not for them but seems to have potential. For instance, we had a recent submission of a cracktastic New Adult with a heroine the original editor found a little too unlikeable, but she recognized the manuscript as being exceptionally well written. That editor suggested a second editor have a look. The second editor loved it, and that ended in acquisition!

Once the editors have returned their preliminary reports, they have two weeks to return reports on any manuscripts kept for full reads. Based on those reads, they recommend acquisition, rejection or revise and resubmit (more on revise and resubmits here). Manuscripts recommended for rejection get filed for response via Submittable, unless the editor has worked with the author in the past, then they may send the response. We’ve discussed rejections in detail here and here.

Those recommended for R&R will get responses directly from the editor. And those recommended for acquisition get moved to a special folder and put on the agenda for our bi-weekly acquisitions team meeting.

In our acquisition meetings, the acquiring editor’s recommendation report is presented and one or two acquisitions team members (that team is comprised of people from marketing, production, promotion, sales, community and editorial) volunteer to read it. In addition to these volunteer readers, all submissions brought forth for acquisition are read by a core team comprised of the Carina Press editorial staff (Angela James, Kerri Buckley, Stephanie Doig) and our marketing leadership team.

Manuscripts are reported on in the next meeting, after everyone listed above has read. Acquisition team members often offer feedback to the acquiring editor. Two people must say yes (and the initial editor who brought the project forward does not count) before a manuscript is acquired, but a manuscript isn’t rejected or sent for R&R without at least six members of the acquisition team looking at it first, to give it a fair chance.

If you’re counting along at home, this means that once the manuscript reaches the acquisitions team, it can take up to 6-8 weeks (depending on when the report is received, especially if it’s received the day after our bi-weekly meeting) for it to go through this step of the process.

After we’ve agreed to make an acquisition, Kerri and I assign it to our list of calls/emails to make. We try and reach out as quickly as possible after a decision has been made. If an author is in the US or Canada, we make the offer call. If an author is outside US/Canada, we generally send an offer email or look to set up a chat via Skype or another similar program. And from there, a new process begins!

So, if you’ve been counting along, you can see how we come to allow 12 weeks for response time on some submissions. The process can be prolonged in several places: if the original editor recommends it be seen by a second editor, if the acquisition team needs more time to discuss, if anyone in the process (the editor or one of the core team readers) needs more time in the process

Have a further question about how submissions work? You can comment here and we’ll respond, or please email