Feedback Opportunity: First-Page Critiques

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Not sure why your manuscript isn’t quite working? Finished your draft, but unsure how to begin polishing for submission? Or maybe you’re almost ready to submit your manuscript to Carina Press but just can’t quite bring yourself to press send.

Here at Carina we’re always looking for ways to give feedback to new and aspiring authors, because personalized pass letters aren’t something we can do for every submission. In the past, we’ve offered feedback opportunities such as #carinapitch, kamikaze cold reads, contest judging and others, but now we’re launching a new opportunity for authors with unpublished work.

Please review the Official Rules here. (Don’t be scared. Official language required by legal team. All other fun, interesting language authored by the editors, and we’re not at all scary!)

Everyone always tells you that the opening page of your manuscript is essential; a riveting opening truly immerses a reader in your story. A good first page can create tension, provide insight into your main characters, and make readers need to see where your story ends up. But no one will ever tell you how to get there, or tell you why you’re not quite getting there. We’re here for you!

This first-page critique sweepstakes is a chance for you to receive honest and constructive feedback from a Carina Press editor. Feedback that we promise won’t be mean—we’re not looking to be Simon Cowell here, or impress our friends with our wit, we’re just looking to give you insight into the editorial thought process while giving you what solid feedback we can at the same time. Send us your first page, and we’ll randomly select three submissions to critique on our blog. If you’ve never had your work critiqued before (or even if you have), don’t worry! Our goal is to help you by not only pointing out what might not be working, but by also letting you know what you’ve gotten right and how to bring that out and really make it shine. In other words, we’re friendly!


How it works:

  1. Fine-tune your opening page and submit it to us here.
  2. We’ll randomly select three first pages from the submissions, one to appear on the Carina Press blog in each of February, March and April.
  3. A Carina Press editor will review and post the submission, with our editorial feedback, on the Carina Press blog. Posts will go live on the third Thursday of the month: February 16, March 16, and April 20.
  4. You choose—do you want the comment section on the blog open or closed? Leaving the comment section open means others can comment and offer feedback but perhaps you only want the feedback from the editor, in which case, everyone reading will benefit from seeing how our editorial minds work, but cannot comment on the blog post itself.
  5. Once all three critiques are posted, we’re planning to start again with a new call for first-page submissions. So stay tuned!


Before you begin:

  1. Please read the Official Rules for full details.
  2. First pages must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EST on February 5, 2017.
  3. One entry per person, and please only from people who haven’t been published by Carina Press/Harlequin before.
  4. Pages must be from unpublished work and you must be the rightful owner of the work.
  5. By submitting your first page to this contest, you give permission for the material to appear on our website along with the editorial feedback
  6. Genres must fall within one of these romance genres but can be of any heat level or same-sex/multiple pairings: contemporary, paranormal, romantic suspense, historical, science fiction, fantasy.
  7. The three submissions to be critiqued will be selected at random, and once the three selections have been made, we’ll be deleting all other first-page submissions and starting fresh next time. So if your first page is not selected, try again in the next round.

Good luck, and we look forward to reading your submissions!

The Carina Press Editors

9 thoughts on “Feedback Opportunity: First-Page Critiques”

  1. Jennifer Ponzini says:

    Sounds like fun!
    I’ve read everything and clicked all the links. I guess now it is just a waiting game until you open the Critique before I can submit. Can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!

  2. Alice Renaud says:

    I saw in the rules that the opportunity is only open to residents of the US and Canada. Is that right? Will there be other critique opportunities open to residents of other countries? Many thanks!

  3. Lidy says:

    I saw in the rules that the story must not have been published. Does having a draft of the story on Wattpad considered published?

  4. Mary Fahey says:


    I entered before realising the geographical restrictions that apply. Sorry about that!

  5. Angela James says:

    Sorry, guys, I never got notified of blog comments so I didn’t realize people had asked questions! I know the call has closed but since another opens in April, I’ll answer here.

    It is only open to residents of US and Canada. Unfortunately, that’s something our Legal team is requiring of us and not something we can change. Trust me, we had many meetings with them trying to figure out a way around it but it was a no go. Sorry!

    “published” equals for sale, so Wattpad doesn’t equal published for this.

    First critique goes up on Thursday!

  6. Hi, I can’t find where to submit my first page. I get sent to the book submissions page. Or to the January page, which is no longer. thanks for your help.

  7. The addresses on twitter don’t work for me but that’s probably my fault. Is there a finishing part of the address I need to add?

  8. Hi again, whats the word count for the critique ? Thanks

    1. Carina Press Editorial Staff says:

      Hi Kimberly,

      I’ll answer all your questions here. The First-Page Critique ran from January 30 to February 5 and the word count requirement was 300 words. We will be reopening the First-Page Critique sweepstakes April 24, and there will be a separate blog post with all the details. Watch our blog for your chance to enter!

      Thank you and good luck!
      Stephanie Van de Vooren
      Editorial Assistant, Carina Press

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