Carina Press Spring 2012 call for submissions!

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Note: please note that the submissions guidelines must still be followed in order to submit a manuscript in response to this call. Please visit our submissions page and follow the directions there.

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Hellooooo! So, the freelance editors for Carina decided it was time to do another call for submissions. We love doing these, because we get so many awesome stories in. Of course, PLEASE note that in the end, what we really want is a good story—so even if yours doesn’t fit the descriptions below, don’t hesitate to send it to us anyway! Sometimes we don’t know what we want until we get it in our inbox. You can find out more info on all the Carina freelance editors on this page.

Rhonda Helms: I’m open to almost every genre, with or without romance. But there are certain types of stories I’m eager to read more of right now, including:

military of any genre (esp. romance, thriller, sci-fi), steampunk (haven’t had a good one in a while!), atypical fantasy with great world-building and intriguing rules/uses of magic, westerns (esp. ones that use western elements to blend genres), sci-fi/futuristic with aliens and technology, romance (any steaminess level), stories with a mythological element, historicals (esp. if they feature real historical figures/events), stories set in unusual locales of any genre, super-funny romances that make me laugh until I cry, books of any genre with kick-ass heroines, deep and resonant tear-jerkers that move me but still have a satisfying ending, stories that blend genres to create a fresh and compelling world, and anything with a strong multicultural facet (please—want!!).

Melissa Johnson:

While Melissa is eager to read submissions of any genre, she currently yearns for a romance that crosses class or culture lines—whether contemporary, historical or paranormal. She feels it takes a particularly thoughtful author to make these conflicts deep and sensitive, and is thrilled when someone pulls it off. In general, she loves characters who learn from each other, see and love each other’s flaws, and grow over the course of the story.

Alissa Davis:

I look for books I can’t put down and characters I can’t forget. I edit lots of m/m, erotic romance, contemporary romance and historical romance and would love to see more of those. I also wish authors would send me medical romance, erotic historical romance, and m/m fantasy romance, and runaway bride romance. I have a weakness for geeky beta heroes, but mostly I hope to see sympathetic, well-drawn characters with real issues and a legitimate conflict keeping them from finding their HEA.

Mallory Braus: Mallory looks for characters first. Three-dimensional characters—with depth and vulnerabilities and quirks—pull her into a story faster than anything else. She’s looking for all genres, but there are a few things she’s especially keeping an eye out for:

–A zombie hunter romance!

–Psychics – Especially if you have psychic FBI agents or members of a special government agency…

–I’ve been keeping an eye out for quirky characters. Nerdy/dorky heroines or heroes. Funny relatives. Etc.

–Dark romantic suspense or gritty thrillers.

–Historical Mysteries. I’m especially looking for any late 19th to early 20th century mysteries.

–“Band of Brother” type series. Examples would be Nora Roberts’s trilogies, Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters, or J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. Where an emphasis is on the building of multiple characters’ relationships over the course of multiple books.

–Stories with unique worlds/setting, including, but not limited to: steampunk, post-apocalyptic, futuristic sci-fi and urban fantasy.

Alison Dasho: Alison wants:

–Sci-fi, especially future humanity dealing with first contact, alien class issues, or cyborg/android integration. What defines humanity? Do robots have souls?

–Fantasy adventure, especially lighter, funnier worlds. I’d love to see a manuscript that tells a rollicking quest story, maybe with trolls and wizards and unicorns and dragons, and has superb worldbuilding and a quirky sense of humor.

–Mystery and crime, especially dark tones and morally ambiguous issues. I’m interested in how the victims cope with the crime after the fact, or how the criminal who maybe got away scot-free in terms of legal justice is forced to contend with karmic justice. I tend not to like paranormal elements in my crime fiction, but will make some exceptions. I would love to see kidnapping fallout stories. Is the kidnap victim grown up and how is s/he dealing with those memories? Is the kidnapper in jail, or contacting the victim for some reason? I’d also love to see wrongly-accused stories — not necessarily like The Fugitive, where the protagonist himself must prove he didn’t do it, but more explorations about how the protagonist feels when faced with an accusation. Powerlessness, reliance upon a flawed justice system, etc.

–Contemporary romance, especially complicated. Both hero and heroine with pasts — maybe she’s a widow, maybe he’s got a criminal history. I love stories where everyone is opposed to the hero and heroine being together at all, let alone earning a HEA.

Denise Nielsen: I’ve had a hankering to read any of the following

–Historicals

  • Dark, edgy historical – Victorian or Edwardian era, gothic elements, steampunk, suspense
  • Classic historical – vikings, highwaymen, revolutionaries, sea captains – strong female leads
  • Jazz era historical – think flappers, luxury

–Contemporary

  • Modern reinterpretations of old stories (myths, legends, history) in a believable contemporary setting
  • Unlikely hero-heroine relationships that work out against the odds
  • Open to the interweaving of parallel stories past and present

Jeff Seymour:

In addition to my usual requests (SF/F, unusual romance, mystery, thrillers, horror, anything you’re afraid doesn’t fit neatly into a genre), I’d love to see some short, fast-paced adventures with series potential. Elements of any other genre welcome—just introduce me to a character and a world I can devour in an evening and still want more of.

Deborah Nemeth: I love intelligent writing, stories that make me laugh or cry (or both), and sharp, motivated protagonists. I’m particularly drawn to exotic settings, rule-breakers and multicultural characters.

I’d like to acquire some unusual historicals, m/m fiction, thrillers, and steampunk. In mystery/suspense I’m always looking for an interesting sleuth(s) to build a series on. I enjoy everything from cozy mysteries to romantic suspense to procedurals. I’d also love a mystery series set in the past (any historical era) or in a future space opera/space western setting. I’m also seeking contemporary romance with strong conflict and strong protagonists—SEALs/Rangers, firefighters, cops, carpenters, cowboys, activists—in any heat level. I love epic fantasy that combines adventure with compelling characterization and unique world-building. In paranormal and urban fantasy I’d rather see a fresh twist on ninjas, superheroes, dragons, fae, ghosts, djinn, Norse gods, psychics or fairytales than vamps, werewolves, demons and zombies.

Angela James: My list is mostly full, but I have a few specific things I’m still pretty avidly looking for, and all center around a good story. I will overlook a lot in writing if the voice, characters and story are compelling:

An erotic contemporary novel-length (70k+) stand alone or series, m/f or multiples, but I’m not seeking GLBT only at this point. A space opera or futuristic romp with strong romantic elements, unique, maybe with some of the Western flavor of Firefly, but with a definite adventure feel. Sports-themed contemporary romance, any sports (yes, racing and MMA are sports!) where sports play a role in the book, whether through the characters or setting of books. Novel-length (70k+) contemporary romance trilogies or series (not stand alone contemporaries), setting can be small town, big city or exotic locale, I’m open in that regard. I’m just looking to build my contemporary list in general!

So, if you have anything that fits the editor requests (or just a great book in general!) to submit, visit our submissions page and follow the directions there. You can address your submission to one of the editors above, or the editorial staff in general. Thanks, and we look forward to reading your manuscripts!

BDSM for Beginners

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by Tara Stevens, Carina Press acquisitions team

Contrary to popular belief, BDSM does not stand for Big Dumb Stupid Men. :) Up until recently, I was pretty much a BDSM virgin. I mean, I knew what it stood for (unlike some of my more innocent colleagues here at Sexy Central), but I’d never actually sat down and read a full-blown BDSM book in all its blindfolded, leather-bound glory.

It all started with a Carina Press submission I was assigned to read and a Spice Brief ebook that needed retitling. All in a day’s work, eh? Suddenly BDSM went from being some vague erotic niche I idly wondered about to something I had to get up to speed with – fast.

Although it sounds a bit dangerous and intimidating to sheltered vanilla types, I’ve discovered that BDSM books can actually be both fun and emotionally substantial, as well as super-sexy. It’s not all just whips and chains and paddles (although they can certainly play a prominent part in a character’s sexual expression).

To be honest, I wasn’t sure how comfortable I would feel immersing myself in a world filled with bondage, domination and submission, but I happily discovered that similar to male/male books, I could understand the appeal and popularity of the niche once I gave it a try. The Carina submission was certainly an eye-opening introduction to BDSM erotic romance, but at the end of the day, it was just one element in a story that engaged me on several different levels.

I think the fantasy role-play and power exchange elements found in BDSM books may be key to their success, since they allow readers to live out their secret desires in a safe space without getting judged as “weird” or into so-called “deviant” things. For me, it also helped knowing I was reading a story about a couple who only performed sexual acts that were completely consensual and that they had a “safe word” they could say if they felt things were getting too out of control. I also enjoyed the twist that it was the heroine who was mostly the “dom” or “top” in the relationship instead of the hero, although they did enjoy taking turns and being “switches” as the book progressed.

Of course, there are different degrees when it comes to BDSM books, and some are definitely darker and more hardcore than others. I think in those cases, it’s really important to let readers know exactly what they’re getting by giving them niche-appropriate titles and covers. Setting the right tone in the cover copy is also essential, and this is no time to be subtle or shy. Including key words like claim, surrender, obey, possess, dominate, control and command will give readers a strong idea of what the book is going to be about.

Now that I’ve experienced my first BDSM book, I’m curious to read more. I’ve already pegged some of our Carina titles like Consent to the Cowboy and Intimate Exposure, but I’m interested in any other recommendations you may have for someone still relatively new to the niche. What are your favourite BDSM books? What do you like about them?

Curious? Explore Harlequin’s  “Curious Reader’s Guide to Erotic Romance”

The Girl Who Loves Wish Lists

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by Tara Stevens, Carina Press acquisitions team

With Christmas upon us and a good chunk of my shopping for other people done, I finally have time to revel in a recent addiction of mine: wish lists. I don’t know about you, but with so many fabulous books popping up every day all over creation, it’s hard to keep track of everything I want to devour in words.

Wish lists were probably invented by a Virgo, but sometimes Virgos invent useful things, especially if they’re also geeks. Having your heart’s desires at the ready is especially handy when your parents or partner want a gift idea that doesn’t involve stone-cold cash or a frying pan. I mean, they may know you’re generally a literary type who likes losing herself in other people’s stories, but they don’t necessarily know what particular book you’re craving at the moment. So why not help them (and yourself) out?

Besides being the more prepared way to go, I also think wish lists are a more polite approach to consumerism. (Maybe they were invented by a Canadian Virgo?) In light of recent “competitive shopping” incidents involving pepper spray south of the border, taking the civilized route not only nets you better karma (important at this time of year), but also increases your chances of actually getting what you want without landing yourself in prison.

The good and bad thing about wish lists (specifically book-related ones) is that they can be constantly updated and have the tendency to grow wildly out of control (like your bevvy consumption in December after one too many holiday parties).

Another neat thing about wish lists is that they’re so easy to set up online. With the advent of the interwebs, you just browse, pick and click to your heart’s content. The best part is that you can share your consumerist longings with those closest to you with a few taps on your keyboard. In my experience, you’ll quickly find out that some people know how to follow directions (i.e., keep you happy), while others don’t like being told what to do and go rogue with the nearest catalogue.

While most of my wish list this Christmas is populated by actual books (Blue Nights by Joan Didion, Then Again by Diane Keaton, The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, anything I haven’t gobbled up by Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb), there are some other book-related things I also covet.

As part of the Carina Press acquisitions team, I’d love to see more male/male and witty contemporary romance submissions in my stocking this year. It would also be cool to get more connected editorial in 2012, so that when I find a story or character I love, I know there’s more guaranteed awesome to be had in the same vein coming my way soon.

But enough about me and what I want. What’s on your Christmas wish list (books or otherwise) this year?

Carina Press call for submissions!

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Hi guys! Several of us freelance editors decided it was time to do another call for submissions we’re dying to get in. Of course, PLEASE note that in the end, what we really want is a good story, so even if yours doesn’t fit the descriptions below, don’t hesitate to send it to us anyway! Sometimes we don’t know what we want until we get it in our inbox. :-) You can find out more info on all the Carina freelance editors on this page.

Now, that said, let’s dish:

Rhonda Helms: I’m always open to pretty much every genre, with or without romance. Sometimes I don’t know I want something unless it hits my desk. But there are certain genres I’m eager to read more of, including: steampunk, atypical fantasy, sci-fi/futuristic, romance (any steaminess level), cross-genre urban fantasy, stories with a mythological element, historicals (especially if they feature real historical figures/events), stories set in unusual locales, gladiators (I LOVE them), thrillers with unusual twists, horror, super-funny stories, books with kick-ass heroines, and anything with a multicultural element.

Gina Bernal: Romance of any subgenre with military heroes or heroines, contemporary romance without suspense elements (including but not only small-town settings), historical romance with an adventurous bent (still searching for those elusive pirates), shapeshifter paranormals, urban fantasy with a unique twist (i.e. beyond the usual vampires and werewolves), and creepy though not necessarily gory psychological thrillers.

Melissa Johnson: Melissa would like to see submissions of any genre that have great worldbuilding, believable and original characters, and deep and difficult conflict.  She works with authors across the range of genres and niches that Carina publishes.  She is especially excited to see manuscripts with series potential that hint of a vast world and even bigger story in the author’s head.

Alison Janssen: I want to see more:

  • Scifi, especially space opera.
  • Gaslight and/or steampunk. (don’t we all, lol!)
  • Medieval.
  • Small town contemporary romance (or contemp. where setting plays an important part).
  • Redemption stories—any genre, really. I love, love, love themes of characters struggling to redeem themselves in the eyes of a parent, lover, community —or even their own eyes.

Denise Nielsen: It’s harder than it seems to narrow down genres I’d love to see. Just as my mind settles on one thing, another pops up. I’m still looking for solid contemporaries, steampunk and/or suspense stories or novellas, but with the gloomier weather kicking in, I find I am more in the mood for plots and characters that have a darker edge. Not so much shape shifters, but more danger and mystique, more human characters with secrets. I would love to see something gothic come my way with a hint of suspense perhaps…think smugglers, highwaymen or soldiers of fortune; think mysterious heroines and a world where not everything is as is seems.

Historicals are still something I’m keen on and anything to do with norse or medieval themes would especially capture my interest. Feel free to incorporate legend and myth to give it more of a fantasy flavour too. I also maintain that a novel set among the spies and resistance fighters of world war II would be intriguing…there is so much room for developing a strong heroine in that period. What I don’t want is a history lesson…the focus needs to be on the characters, but please do weave in authentic historical details to give depth to your story.

Take a risk with cross-genre blends, or stick to your favourite genre. But do it with strong characters who take an active role in their own plot. Give me conflict (both internal and external) and character development, and if there is a romantic element to your story, show me the fire—whether that is a slow burn or instant passion—between the heroine and hero.

Lynne Anderson: I’d particularly love to see cross-genre stories, and interracial, multicultural, and/or LGBT relationships. However, I’m always interested in reading well-written, engaging stories in all genres (truly—I enjoy them all!), of any length. What catches my attention is a distinctive writing voice, a certain flair with language, unusual premises, new and interesting takes on standard tropes, and imperfect, genuine characters with depth. I look forward to reading your submissions!

Deb Nemeth: On my wish list are high-stakes thrillers and cleverly constructed mysteries featuring a compelling detective who a series can be based on. One of my favorite genres is historical romance, especially English and Irish settings from Celtic to WW2 but also any European (medieval, Crusaders, Renaissance, buccaneers), as well as unusual settings such as Asia and Africa. I can’t get enough steampunk, so if your invented world is full of gears and gadgets, I wanna read it. I’m also actively seeking contemporary romance mss with strong conflict—something more than an I’ve-been-hurt-before hesitation to commit—and passionate characters. I’ve been longing to acquire Asian-inspired urban fantasy, space westerns, futuristic mystery/suspense and Arthurian fantasy. In all genres I’m looking for m/m and multicultural stories, and I’m open to all heat levels. I’m attracted by intense characters, both lawmakers and lawbreakers, and crisp writing.

Elizabeth Bass: What would I like to see more of? Historicals! Romances, of course, but I also would be interested in historical mysteries or thrillers. I’ve really been craving more Western historicals, Regencies, and books set in the medieval period. (Although from the Carina submissions I’ve received and acquired, I’ve discovered any historical period can be great if the writer finds the story to make it click!) Also, it would be fun to see submissions from authors who have branched out into twentieth century historicals–romances, mysteries or thrillers set during the World Wars or the years between. I’d love to see more thrillers or police procedurals with a hero/heroine detective who has series potential. Cozy mysteries, too.  I’ve been rereading Sparkle Hayter’s Robin Hudson series and I’m craving a fun cozy series with a woman detective. Finally, a great zombie/creature apocalypse thriller in my inbox would make my day.

Mallory Braus: Mallory looks for characters first. Three dimensional and relatable characters—with depth and vulnerabilities—pull her into a story faster than anything else. She’s looking for all genres, but there are a few things she’s especially keeping an eye out for:

  • I’m still hoping to find a zombie hunter romance in my inbox. Though, I will read all things zombie related.
  • Psychics – Especially if you have psychic FBI agents or members of a special government agency…
  • I’ve been keeping an eye out for quirky characters. Nerdy/dorky heroines or heroes. Funny relatives. Etc.
  • Gritty thrillers.
  • Historical Mysteries.
  • “Band of Brother” type series. Examples would be Nora Roberts’s trilogies, Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters, or J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. Where an emphasis is on the building of multiple characters’ relationships.
  • Stories with unique worlds/setting, including, but not limited to: steampunk, post-apocalyptic, futuristic sci-fi and urban fantasy

So, if you have anything that fits the editor requests (or even just a great book in general!) to submit, visit our submissions page and follow the directions there. You can address your submission to one of the editors above, or the editorial staff in general. Thanks, and we look forward to reading your amazing stories!

The holiday steampunk collection announced!

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I was reminded that I didn’t announce the authors and their novellas that were selected to be in our 2011 steampunk holiday collection, releasing December 2011. The call for submission, which went out this spring, was the only such themed call we’ve done to date. It’s been asked if we plan to do more, and right now the answer is probably not more than once a year. For now, we’ll keep the majority of the collections/anthologies we do by-invitation-only, with the possible exception of one a year.

The steampunk holiday call was highly successful for us. Not only did we acquire four novellas for the holiday collection, but we also acquired five others, for release in 2012, and sent out revise and resubmits for an additional three! The calibre of the submissions, as you might tell from just those numbers, was outstanding and incredible. Thank you to everyone who submitted!

With that said, I offer my congratulations to these for authors, who will appear in the 2011 steampunk holiday collection, and will have their novellas release both separately and as a bundle. We welcome two new-to-Carina authors, and two returning Carina authors.

Far From Broken by J.K. Coi

Untitled steampunk novella (set in Australia!) by Jenny Schwartz

Untitled steampunk novella by Stacy Gail

This Winter Heart by PG Forte

As a point of interest, our other two holiday collections, which were by-invitation-only will include:

Josh Lanyon, K.A. Mitchell, Harper Fox and Ava March in a collection of m/m romance tales.

Jaci Burton, Alison Kent, HelenKay Dimon and Shannon Stacey in a contemporary romance collection.

You can purchase all three of these collections, or the individual novellas, on December 5, 2011!

Editor call for submissions!

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Hi guys! Several of us editors decided we wanted to do a call for submissions we’re dying to get in. Of course, PLEASE note that in the end, what we really want is a good story, so even if yours doesn’t fit the descriptions below, don’t hesitate to send it to us anyway! Sometimes we don’t know what we want until we get it in our inbox. :D

Now, that said, let’s dish:

Rhonda Stapleton: I’m dying for some stories with epic worldbuilding, such as historical in any era (especially featuring real historical figures), futuristic/sci-fi, “atypical” fantasy, etc. I’m open to romance and non-romance, with any level of steaminess. I’d also love some more contemp romances, steampunk with other elements, and stories featuring minority characters. I’d really dig a good thriller too, one that keeps me on the edge of my seat.

Mallory Braus: I’m open to almost all genres/categories/concepts. But there are a few I’ve been hoping to find in my inbox…

  • Zombie Hunter Romance
  • Psychic FBI Agents
  • Fun, quirky heroines or heroes
  • Steampunk
  • Regency/Victorian Historicals
  • Genre Blends

Alissa Davis:

  • I’m still seeking foodie romance. (Sherry Thomas’s Delicious is an excellent example of romance centered around food. It’s a historical, but I have no time period preferences.)
  • It’d be great to get more fantasy romance, and I’d love to see some m/m fantasy romance.
  • I also want more BDSM, erotica and erotic romance.
  • I recently edited a steampunk erotic fantasy romance called Journeyman’s Ride by Marie Harte and fell in love with the juxtaposition of Norse mythology and steampunk technology. If you have a book with a whole bunch of sub-genres successfully integrated into one story, please send it my way.

Melissa Johnson: I’d like to see a prehistoric romance.  Seriously.  We have some ancient history, but rarely does anyone do prehistory.  I would imagine it is almost like sci fi in terms of openness of worldbuilding, although the author should research stone and metal technologies, and specifics of land, climate and wildlife for the era.  With Jean M. Auel’s Land of the Painted Caves coming out this week (3/29), dare anyone write a romance set in a similar era? I’d also love to see a contemporary multicultural romance where there are meaty cultural differences to bridge and real misunderstandings to angst over. Like all of us editors, I want to see any manuscript if it is well-crafted.  If the world you’ve built overflows the pages of your manuscript, if you can answer odd questions I come up with about your characters because you’ve thought about them that much–then I want to read your manuscript.  If my heart rate actually increases, from fear or strong emotion, while I read your manuscript, then I am thrilled, even if your setting and tropes are familiar.  If you show me something about the world and about people that I haven’t seen or thought of before, and if you do it in a way that I am wowed by your subtlety and cleverness, then you’ve got me hooked.

Gina Bernal: My first love has always been historicals and I’m always open for historical romance, fiction and mysteries. Unusual time periods and settings (Romans, harems, the Dark Ages, renaissance Italy, WWI, etc.) and not-you-average characters (non-aristocrats in Regencies for example) are a plus. And I don’t mind a little grit and grime either—some of my favorite TV historical dramas are DeadwoodSpartacusThe Tudors and Rome. Speaking of television, my recently acquired addiction to the show Army Wives has piqued my interest in stories featuring military characters that are not romantic suspense. On the alternate reality front, I’m looking for a great new dystopian/post-apocalyptic world or a shifter story that gets to the heart of pack politics. Short stories are my go-to on busy days, and I’m interested in novellas in all romantic subgenres. Outside of romance, family drama-based women’s fiction or can’t-sleep-at-night creepy psychological thrillers are both on my must have list.

Lynne Anderson: Though my first love is romance and all its subgenres—in which I’m happy to read any heat level and any pairing (hey, everybody deserves a HEA or HFN)—I’m currently accepting submissions of any genre or length. I love it when writers aren’t afraid to take risks. I’m especially fond of cross-genre stories and unique premises. Characterwise, I’d particularly love to see interracial and/or multicultural pairings, and LGBT. My favorite protagonists are flawed individuals who ultimately triumph through the strength of their will and character.

Denise Nielson:

  • a gothic victorian with a bit of supernatural thrown in and a strong misunderstood hero
  • a norse historical – vikings and longships and adventure
  • a medieval/Arthurian legend/Romans in Britain theme
  • world war II spies and resistance fighters

Deborah Nemeth: She is drawn to characters on the margins—smugglers, outcasts, thieves—as well as straight-shootin’ Rangers, Seals, MI5 agents, detectives, sheriffs, superheroes. She loves multicultural stories and unusual settings, as well as British ones. Genres she can never get enough of include

  • Steampunk and alternate history,
  • Mysteries: cozy English village mysteries, historical mysteries, private eye mysteries.
  • Lighthearted capers (heists, espionage),
  • Historicals: Regencies, Edwardian, Georgian, Belle Epoque/Gilded Age, Victorian, Italian Renaissance, Tudor, Jazz Age, WW2, Age of Sail, Medieval, Crusades, and exotic settings (China, India, Persia, Japan, Siam, Istanbul, Arabia, Africa…)

If you have anything that fits the editor requests (or even just a great book in general) to submit, visit our submissions page and follow the submissions directions there. You can address your submission to one of the editors above, or the editorial staff in general.

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.

Steampunk Holiday Submissions Call

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Carina Press is pleased to announce a call for submissions for our 2011 holiday collections. This will be the only open collection call for 2011 and is an excellent opportunity for authors interested in participating in the normally by-invitation-only Carina Press collections.

Carina is looking for steampunk novellas with a winter or winter holiday theme, to be published digitally both individually and as a collection in December 2011. The novellas should be from 18,000 to 35,000 words and feature steampunk elements as integral to the novella. The stories do not need to be romance, or even have romance elements, but can be straight steampunk, or steampunk with romantic elements, and can also feature elements of mystery, thriller, horror or other sub-genres. Additionally, there is no set heat level for these stories, so they can have no sex, or be ultra-sexy, or anything in between.

Essentially, we’re looking for interesting, creative, well-written stories within the steampunk niche that will appeal to readers’ imaginations and add to our growing catalog of steampunk stories.

The steampunk holiday collection will be supported by a marketing and promotion campaign both online and in print. In addition, though the collection won’t currently be offered for sale in print format, each author chosen to contribute to the anthology will receive a set number of limited edition print copies for their own use.

To submit, please send your completed manuscript and synopsis, along with query letter to submissions@carinapress.com by May 15th, 2011. In the subject line, please put Steampunk Holiday: Manuscript Title and Author

All submissions will be reviewed and final decision made by June 15th, 2011.

For questions about this call for submissions, please email Angela James at submissions@carinapress.com

For more information about Carina Press, and to read the submission guidelines, please visit www.carinapress.com

*permission to forward granted*

The Art of Acquisition

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Acquisitions is more art than science, so there is no formula that will tell you exactly what an editor is looking for in a manuscript.

The first time a manuscript crosses my desk, I have to decide whether to keep reading. This can depend on any combination of factors, but in the initial pass, I look at it with an eye to three things:

1.      Is the premise engaging?
2.      Is the writing sound?
3.      How do I feel about the story?

Is the premise engaging?
This encompasses so much. Have we met the characters? Do we have a sense of the setting? And is there a driving action that compels us to read more? Although I will sneak a peek at your synopsis to see what you have in store from a plot perspective, I don’t need to know everything right at the start. In fact I prefer not to, to let the sense of who these characters are and what they are up to unfold with the story. But there must be enough to engage me right from the start. Do the characters seem real? Is there some conflict emerging? Is there a solid hook?

Is the writing sound?
Fear not, I am not looking for a perfectly executed manuscript (though, hey, I will take that too!). But I do want to know if the writer has a basic technical understanding of how to create pacing and dialogue, how to transition between scenes and points of view, how to use narrative voice and when there is too much exposition. Grammar is also important. I wouldn’t turn away a book because of misplaced modifiers or dangling participles, but if your manuscript is littered with multiple errors, it may make me the teensiest bit gun shy.

How do I feel about the story?
This is that elusive voice editors talk about, and is by far the most subjective element of acquisitions. Does the book speak to us? Does it feel fresh and interesting? Is it something I will continue to be excited about after countless rounds of edits? If I recommend a book and the team accepts it, then I will be reading it critically another half dozen times (at least) between now and the time it is published. So it is important that I love the story, that I understand what you are trying to do and that I am excited about working with the material on a long-term basis.

I won’t know all this until I finish the whole book, and at that point I will also be looking at numerous other factors as I decide whether or not to recommend the book to the Carina team. But these three things give me a framework in which to read your manuscript. Does it mean if you don’t have a solid hook, or I don’t love it right from the start that it will be rejected? Not at all. We want to discover great stories just as much as you want to publish them, and we love working with authors to polish their manuscripts.

What does it mean when you’re asked to revise and resubmit?

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Many months ago, when I did a post on our acquisitions process, I promised to do a more informative post on what we call revise and resubmits (aka R&Rs). Many authors may have heard the term, or they may have even received one, but just not been sure what to do with it. And I’ve heard of many authors who think of an R&R as a rejection.

So let’s talk about an R&R from the Carina Press editorial point of view. At Carina, I try to encourage the editors to think of submissions in terms of probability for acquisition first, pass to another editor second, revise and resubmit third and rejection last. We don’t reject unless we don’t believe the manuscript is a good fit for one of the other three possibilities.

Why do we do a revise and resubmit?

It can be a variety of reasons, really, but most often, there are several factors at work 1) the editor sees a lot to like about the manuscript 2) she likes the author’s voice and potential and 3) despite all of those, the manuscript needs significant revisions in one or more areas. Sometimes, if an author is someone we know well or have worked with before, we’ll acquire a book with the understanding that we’ll be doing (really) significant revisions. But for the most part, we don’t like to acquire a book if we’re going to be asking for some major changes. Why? Because it’s not fair to the author, for one thing. You don’t want to sign a contract, thinking the basic structure of your book is fine with the editor, and then suddenly find yourself ripping out major chunks or making changes like cutting a character or subplot.

And on our side of things, we have no way of knowing if an author is either willing or able to make those changes. Some authors believe a book should be accepted “as is” with only basic editing done after that. Some authors simply haven’t yet developed the skill necessary for making the revisions we’re asking for. And some authors just aren’t interested in doing the revisions. These are things it’s better to find out before the book goes to contract, so we utilize the revise and resubmit.

Did I just get a rejection?

The revise and resubmit letter should never (ever) be viewed as a rejection. Trust me, if the editor wanted to reject your book, it would be a lot less time consuming. The R&R letter can often take hours for the editor to craft, after they’ve made extensive notes while reading your book. We don’t just whip out an R&R letter in 15 minutes and send it out. It gets crafted by the editor and then read by me and we discuss. We want to make sure that the letter is clear, lays out the issues, but also tells you why we love the book and want to see it again.

So, in my mind, I think a revise and resubmit letter should be viewed as the highest form of praise an editor can give you, short of actually contracting the book. That they took so much time to give you feedback means they saw a lot to like in the book. Don’t ignore that letter and think your chances with that publisher are done, read through it and see if you agree with their critique.

The author point of view

On that note, I know that there are authors who don’t care for the revise and resubmit, because it’s not a contract, and so you’re making the changes on faith. And there is no guarantee of a contract (we’re careful to note this in our letters) so you may make changes and still not find your book acquired. So once you get the letter, you do have some decision-making to do. Read the letter, evaluate the changes, walk away from it for a day (or two) and see if time and distance gives you objectivity to the letter (sometimes it can sting to get such a thorough critique) and then come back and evaluate: do you agree with the requests (at least some, if not all)? Are you able to do them? Are you willing to do them? Will making these changes result in a book you can sell elsewhere if they don’t end up working for the requesting publisher? Or will the changes result in a book that you feel isn’t true to your vision of the book? These are all things you should ask yourself before you either A) tackle the revisions or B) decline to make the revisions.

Revise and Resubmit etiquette

If there is such a thing. If not, I’m making it up now! There are also times when we’re in the situation of deciding whether or not to offer an R&R and we ultimately decide not to offer the revisions, but instead pass on the work. Why? Because, as I said earlier, R&Rs take a tremendous amount of editorial time and effort, and we know not every author is going to want to do the requested revisions. So we try to balance what we know of the author, their opportunity to publish the book elsewhere, and the likelihood that they’ll be receptive to revisions and go from there. I’m not sure there’s anything that stings more for an editor who’s put hours into a manuscript than to hear “Thanks for your revision suggestions. I sold the book to another publisher before I heard from you and I know you’re going to be happy to hear that I’m going to use your suggestions to make the book even stronger!”

Okay, well, that involves a whole other world of etiquette (the one in which you TELL a publisher if you’ve sold a book, and pull it from submission but…ahem…I digress) but it’s still happened where we’ve had people take the revisions, make the changes, strengthen the manuscript and then sell the manuscript elsewhere. And, yep, that’s certainly the author’s right. But it explains why we think carefully about whether we’re going to do a revise and resubmit.

So what should you do if you receive a revise and resubmit letter from a publisher/editor/agent?

1) Don’t feel you have to respond immediately. If you want to acknowledge receipt, that’s always nice, just send an email thanking them for the feedback and asking for time to think about it.

2) Take a few days to think about it. Once you’ve decided, let the publisher know that you’re going to either tackle the requested revisions, or that you appreciate the time they put in, but don’t feel the revisions are what’s best for the book at this time. It’s okay to say no. But letting the publisher/editor/agent know either way is very courteous.

3) If you decide to do the revisions, take your time. Don’t rush. This is probably your last chance for this manuscript with this publisher. And we’re going to raise an eyebrow if we get your revisions back in a day or two (no really, we don’t think this is possible). Do a thorough read or five of your manuscript. Carefully read and re-read the editor’s suggestions. Have a critique partner or beta reader give feedback. Do Not Rush.

4) If you decide not to do the revisions and think the suggestions are worse than that orange and green plaid sweater your Great Aunt Hilda gave you for your last birthday well, go ahead and vent about it. In private. To a few close friends. Not to your entire Twitter, Facebook and blog readers. That is not very courteous.

5) Last, above all, pat yourself on the back that, no matter what happens, someone thought your book had enough potential to take the time to send you that letter. That’s pretty flattering and you should be proud of the hard work that got you there!