What Carina Press editors are looking for: July 2014 edition

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Looking for the July 23-27 Carina Press Not at Nationals Pitch Event information post?  Click here: #CarinaNANPitch

Ah, summer. It’s always a busy time at Carina Press–some of us are off to RWA Nationals next week, some of us are heading out on vacation, some of us are sticking closer to home. We’re all hungry for enough excellent submissions to keep us reading well into November. A full breakdown of what each individual editor is looking for right now is down below, but I also wanted to take a moment to highlight six areas Carina Press is especially interested in as we build out our 2015 publishing schedule:

  1. Male/Male: While we’re always looking for contemporaries, we’d also love to see different genres with a m/m romance at the center. Mysteries, romantic suspense, sci-fi, you name it! And we are really hunting for New Adult m/m–all  heat levels considered.
  2. Erotic Romance: Sexual tension is a must in this genre, and we’d really like to see projects with strong series potential. BDSM welcome but not required. 70,000 words and up, please!
  3. Romantic Suspense: True detective/FBI/true suspense, organized crime, and more. High stakes and real danger rule, and again we’re very interested in building a killer (ha!) series. 70,000 words and up preferred.
  4. Historical Romance: Send us your kilts, please! Scotland-set historicals are on our wish list this year, along with Regencies.
  5. New Adult: As noted above, M/M New Adult is a particular area of interest for us in 2015. We’re also looking to acquire other subgenres of NA, beyond contemporary.
  6. Mystery: Cozies, amateur sleuths, detectives, offbeat mysteries & grittier crime fiction. We want ‘em all.

As always, just because something is not listed above does not mean we aren’t  acquiring it. If we publish it, we’re looking for it–and if you’ve written something that fits within our submission guidelines, we want to see it!

Angela James, Editorial Director:

Right now my personal wish list focuses heavily on two things: a dark erotic thriller that pushes the edges of exploring forced seduction, fantasy and eroticism, and a romantic suspense series that features mercenaries who are anti-heroes and anti-heroines.

Otherwise, some of my wish list remains much the same.

  • I long for a super, super sexy (but not necessarily erotic) contemporary romance with sexually charged dialogue, sexual tension build-up and a dirty-talking hero.
  • I’d go to bat in the acquisitions meeting for a great cowboy rebellion-type space opera, still (I wonder how many years I’ve been asking for that Firefly-flavored story? 8? 10?)

Mostly, I would really love to see projects that push the boundaries, make me squirm a little in discomfort, but still deliver a satisfying romance with a happily ever after and a great sexiness. All alpha heroes welcome, including those who are kind of jerks to start off with, but spunky heroines who aren’t doormats are an absolute must!

Kerri Buckley, Editor: I’m actively acquiring in all genres except for sci-fi. Here’s what I’m crossing my fingers to find in my submission inbox ASAP:

  • Dry, funny, or sarcastic mysteries, cozy or otherwise. If your gumshoe has a standout or off-color sense of humor, please send him/her my way
  • Darker, grittier mysteries, particularly psychological thrillers
  • Heroine-driven romantic suspense. Kickass girls with guns/knives/lasers/nunchucks. Unusual, non-traditional professions a bonus: female firefighters, submarine captains, military unit leaders, etc. Emphasis on the suspense (rather than the romance) or a 50/50 split
  • Contemporary *and* historical projects set in Eastern Europe and/or involving Eastern European families, traditions, mysticism, lore. A lot of flexibility here, but no time travel, please
  • An Army Wives-like contemporary series where the focus is on the homefront rather than the battlefield

Freelance editors actively acquiring (* indicates the editor will be participating in #CarinaNANPitch July 23-27):

Rhonda Helms:Here are some types of submissions I’m always eager for:

  • New Adult (contemporary, sci-fi/fantasy/futuristic, historical)
  • LGBTQ romance
  • Romance in any steaminess level from sweet to spicy, though I love super-hot stuff. ;-)
  • Laugh-out-loud romantic comedies
  • Contemporary, historical or sci-fi/fantasy/futuristic erotic romance
  • Genre blends (LGBTQ western? Paranormal Victorian? Hit me with ‘em!)
  • Multicultural and/or PoC (people of color) submissions
  • Action-packed sci-fi/futuristic non-romance (or with romantic elements)
  • Epic fantasy series with clear, thorough worldbuilding and unique/atypical elements

And now, a few specific submissions I’ve been craving:

  • LGBTQ romantic comedy
  • A regency/Victorian romance or western romance featuring PoC
  • A fresh take on the upstairs-downstairs romance (like Downton Abbey)–contemporary or historical
  • A sexy romance featuring heroes or heroines who work with their hands, like carpenters or skilled tradesmen/women (series are great!)
  • First-responders romances featuring firefighters, police officers, EMTs, etc. (series are great!)
  • Military romances (series are great!)
  • A dark, atmospheric, sexy gothic romance–contemporary or historical
  • Edgy/envelope-pushing New Adult romance, any genre
  • Edgy/envelope-pushing erotic romance, any genre

Deborah Nemeth*: I’m looking for stories with flawed, passionate characters and high-stakes conflict. In my favorite books, the protagonists have to suffer before saving the day or getting their happy-ever-after. I’m drawn to antiheroes and clever characters, and I have a special fondness for alphas, geeks, soldiers, cops, athletes, cowboys, blue-collar heroes/heroines, and bad boys who walk on the wrong side of the law.

Here are some things on my current wish list:

  • Romantic suspense so adrenaline-fueled it will keep me reading all night—military, revenge, espionage, terrorists, serial killers, stalkers, conspiracies and cover-ups…
  • Male/male, especially New Adult, mystery, romantic suspense or contemporary romance
  • Mysteries and crime fiction, particularly brain-teasing cozies and gritty procedurals, with strong hooks, sharp sleuths and series potential. Also fast-paced capers and heists with elaborate cons à la Ocean’s Eleven and The Thomas Crown Affair
  • Historical romance that will transport me back in time, especially Regency but also Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian and the courts of the Tudors and Plantagenets
  • Contemporary romance with solid conflict and sparkling dialogue in any heat level/setting
  • Edgy New Adult with a fresh voice and emotional intensity that pushes the envelope
  • Political and palace intrigue, whether in fantasy (think Game of Thrones), historical romance (Tudors) or contemporary settings (West Wing, House of Cards, Scandal)

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 wants to dive into the complexities of character relationships. And even more, discover characters who may be morally ambiguous—people who do bad things for good reasons. The more complex the character, the more layered and complicated, the more she wants to read about him/her.

She’s looking for all genres, but there are a few things she’s especially keeping an eye out for:

  • New Adult! I’m especially looking for those that feature quirky characters
  • Stories with gothic elements
  • I’ve been hoping to find a sweet M/M
  • Historical Romance—While I don’t edit Regencies, I am always looking for intriguing historical settings. Anything WWII set or prior is fair game
  • Romantic suspense
    • An especially thrilling find would be a suspense that’s set amongst the Amish (non-inspirational)—like Witness or Karen Harper’s romantic suspense series
  • I adore quirky characters. Nerdy/dorky heroines or heroes. Funny relatives, etc.
  • Gritty thrillers. Bring on bad boys/girls, ambiguous morals, complex characters!
    •  I recently became hooked on the show Leverage, and the banter and continued growth as we follow the band of thieves kept me hooked to the end.
  • Historical Mysteries. Especially turn of the century, urban settings (like The Alienist).
    • Think Copper or Hell on Wheels
    • If you have a character similar to Jax, from Sons of Anarchy, but in a historical setting, Mallory will bribe you with pie to send the book to her
  • Cozy mysteries
  • “Band of Brother” type series. Examples would be Nora Roberts’s trilogies, Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters, or Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series. Where an emphasis is on the building of multiple characters’ relationships and continued development of the world/external stakes
  • Stories with unique worlds/setting, including, but not limited to: steampunk, post-apocalyptic, shifter-paranormals, and urban fantasy. I love stories that cross genres in an unique way.

Alissa Davis*:

  • Erotic romance with strong dialogue and great sexual tension—bonus points for heroes and heroines who rock at talking dirty
  • M/m in any subgenre and heat level
  • Marriage of convenience romance
  • Sports romance, particularly soccer, football, hockey and baseball. I can’t catch a ball to save my life, but I love editing these books
  • New Adult, particularly m/m New Adult
  • Geeky heroes and heroines. The more awkward they are, the more I love them
  • Foodie romance, where preparing or eating food plays a large role in the plot and is part of how the characters come together
  • Military romance, m/m or m/f. The hero or heroine can be active military or retired.
  • Angsty, dark historical romance with high-stakes conflict keeping the hero and heroine apart
  • Medical romance
  • Romantic suspense with high-stakes conflict, twisted plots and awesome heroines who aren’t about to be damseled
  • I’d love to see a teacher and student scenario where one of the adult characters is in the other one’s adult dance class, cooking class, film, etc.
  • Any combo of the above. New Adult mystery military LGBTQ romance, anyone?

Jeff Seymour: I’d love to get my hands on a great romantic suspense or some truly can’t-put-it-down speculative fiction with romantic or LGBTQ elements, particularly:

  • Romantic suspense with pedal-to-the-floor pacing and a high spice level
  • I’m still waiting for my m/m steampunk romance
  • Genre tropes explored, either playfully or seriously

I like my heroes more interested in nurturing than controlling and my heroines self-aware and empowered. I’m a sucker for great world building, interesting settings, and characters who are unusual takes on an archetype as well.

Melissa Johnson* would love to acquire:

  • A contemporary romance with heroes and heroines who are passionate about each other and about something in their lives: community, career, family, hobby…etc. She’s looking for the couple’s personal conflicts to be woven with strong external conflicts.
  • A traditional historical romance with the classic rake who is ready to reform and the innocent who disarms him and gains sophistication. Melissa would love them to have exciting and slightly devastating misunderstandings and obstacles.
  • A fantasy/science fiction romance that combines elements of history and an imagined future to create a robust and unique world. She’d be thrilled to see an author build a new genre, comparable to steampunk, but with a different era, region and tech/historical elements.

Tina Burns*: I’m looking for romance, from sweet to erotic and open to any sub-genre. I love unique stories and twists on the norm. I’m looking for flawed but redeemable characters that linger long after I’m done reading. Specifically I would love to see:

  • New Adult (contemporary and mixed genre, New Adult M/M)
  • Romantic Comedies
  • LGBTQ romance
  • Historical Romance – Gothic, Paranormal/Psychic, Alternate, Wild, Wild West-ish
  • Mystery Romance with paranormal/psychic/Other elements.

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:
http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/1255470-harlequin-books

Links to the home page aren’t direct links:
www.goodreads.com

www.amazon.com

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:

http://www.netgalley.com/about/publisher-prefs/#carina

Answering Questions Part II

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First off, let me just thank everyone on behalf of the whole Carina Press team for your interest in and all the enthusiasm you’ve shown for Carina in the past week. It’s wonderful to know that so many of you are just as excited about the possibilities as we are!

Earlier in the week, Malle wrote a post, answering some questions that came up immediately after our announcement. Today, I’m going to recap some of her answers to questions posed in the comments of that thread, as well as answer some new questions. One quick thing before I start, when the blog was first put up, the comments were set to be “threaded”. We’ve set the comments to unthreaded (tell me I’m not the only one easily confused by those threaded comments?) but because we’ve done that, the previous four posts’ comments might look a little confusing and messy. Which is one of the reasons why I want to restate some of the answers Malle gave here. Also, we have requested that a subscribe-to-comments plugin be added to the blog, so everyone can track the comments more easily (including us!) and hopefully we’ll have that added next week.

Will a sample contract be available for viewing?

Malle: No, we won’t be offering a sample contract online — my legal department would shoot me. (AJ: but we will answer what questions we can about contract terms)

What rights does the contract take?

Malle: We will be buying all rights.

Is the contract negotiable?

AJ: My favorite saying when I talk about contracts is that they should be negotiable but all things in them are not negotiable. That applies here.

What are the royalty rates?

AJ: 30% of the original cover price on direct sales, 15% of the original cover price on 3rd party distribution. There is no net, no hidden fees, it’s all based on cover price.

So the books will be sold through 3rd party distributors?

AJ: Yes.

Will the books through 3rd party distributors be sold DRM free?

Malle: We will be offering the stories DRM-free on the Carina Press site and we will be offering the editorial to other vendors. If they wrap their own DRM on it, that will be their call.

DRM free? Really? You’re not just pulling my leg?

AJ: No, really, DRM free!

What formats will the books be available in?

AJ: At this time we haven’t finalized which formats we offer, though we do know there will be epub and PDF (did I mention they’d be DRM free?)

What about cover price? What will that be?

AJ: Again, this is something we’re still discussing, but cover price will in-line with other digital publishers.

And will you be offering print in the future?

AJ: No possibilities should be discounted. At this moment, we are focusing on digital but who knows what may happen in the future.

About submissions, what is your minimum word count, you don’t really say?

Malle: We’re looking for genre novels between 50 – 100 K. Willing to consider bigger single titles over 100 K. And I think there is a sweet spot for shorter books/novellas between 20 – 30 K. Angie tells me I’m wrong and that there is a lot of great material between 30 – 50 K. I wait to be corrected! So basically we are wide open!

AJ: And what she didn’t say is that yes, we will take as low as 15k. I expect a lot of amazing short submissions and a lot between 30-50k so I can say “I told you so” :P

How do you figure word count?

AJ: Computer word count. Pretty much all publishers, digital or traditional, are happy with computer word count in this age of technology.

And what heat level?

AJ: We’re looking for all heat levels, so there are no minimums and no restrictions. You can have no kissing up to whatever sexy stuff fits the story. As it says in our guidelines, we’re not looking for Penthouse Letters, we’re looking for great storytelling.

And you’ll consider m/m or other GLBT?

AJ: Absolutely, we welcome it and look forward to it.

Does my book have to have romantic elements?

AJ: Not at all. Well, unless it’s a romance. But though we will focus on romance, we will look at non-romance genres, including books without romantic elements at all.

A friend of mine got a “not quite right for this line” rejection from Harlequin. Will the editors forward those submissions to you for consideration?

AJ: Since Carina Press is a separate company, with a different pay structure, we can’t assume that authors want their submission to be published through Carina, so your friend should submit it directly to us herself. If she got a “not quite right” it might be just up our alley!

My manuscript is written in UK English, do I need to change that?

AJ: Not as long as it’s appropriate to the story setting. If your story is set in the US, you might want to reconsider the UK English!

I don’t live in the US or Canada, can I still submit a manuscript?

AJ: Absolutely! We will happily publish authors living anywhere there’s computer access (hey, alien friends, send us your best stories!), as long as the manuscript is in English.

Can I mail you a hard copy of my manuscript instead of sending it via email?

AJ: Sorry, no. Since we’re a digital-only company, everything will be done electronically, from submissions to edits. Submissions need to be made electronically, following our submissions guidelines, and the author must have or be prepared to have a program that can work with track changes (OpenOffice is a free option).

Do you only want books that will become a series, or will you accept standalone novels as well?

AJ: We’re interested in good storytelling, so if your book is a standalone, we want to see it. If your book is intended as part of a series, we want to see it.

What are your marketing plans? Will the author be expected to do all of the marketing?

Malle:  You’ll hear lots more about marketing plans as we move forward.

In our description we were trying to stress the small, independent publisher feel we hope to offer within Carina Press. We will be working together closely with authors on marketing efforts. We expect authors who want to participate in social media, etc. will most likely sell better. It’s part of the nature of this space. But by no means do we mean the author will be doing all the heavy lifting! Heck, that’s why we stress what an amazing digital marketing team we have. One that has years of experience.

Are you hiring editors, copyeditors or cover artists?

AJ: You can send your letter of interest, resume or portfolio to generalinquiries@carinapress.com

Whew! Is anyone else exhausted after that marathon Q&A session? Now I know you’ll tell me what I missed, so bring on the follow-up questions! If necessary, I’ll do one more post to recap anything I missed.