Here at Carina, we’re always looking for new authors to sign, publish and build. But we recognize that putting your manuscript out on submission can be an intimidating process. How do you make your manuscript stand out, from the query letter to the last page? We’re here to demystify the submissions process by giving you some insight into what a Carina Press editor looks for when she opens up a submission for review.
Today’s post comes from Libby Murphy, who is a freelance editor for Carina Press, and gets to read submissions from the slush pile on a daily basis. Lately, she has seen a large number of previously self-published books come through, and here are her thoughts.
Wow, is it May already? I keep hearing that summer is dead in publishing, and I don’t know who started that rumor, but it is not true! We are always reading and acquiring projects, and I hope many of you are getting projects ready to start submitting.
All right. Let’s get to our topic for today: career planning. Having a plan for where you want to go—and how you’ll do it!—in your publishing career is crucial. Authors are so fortunate because there are so many choices out there, and with that comes so many variables that can be overwhelming. You can go the traditional route and work with a publisher, self-publish, or become a hybrid author and get the best of both worlds. Choice is good. The hardest part is to know which choices will work best for you. I’ll give some examples below.
With traditional publishing you submit your book to a publishing house and get a contract. You work with an editor to revise your manuscript until it’s beautiful and shiny. While you’re writing and/or editing, you have several people working for you (this entire team comes with the package!) to make your book appealing to your potential audience. Behind the scenes, professional cover artists, marketing folks, copyeditors, copy writers, and proofreaders are hard at work to make your book the best and brightest on the shelf. Once your book begins to sell you make royalties based on how well it sells. Money always flows to the author in this case.
But working with a publisher isn’t the right fit for every author, so they turn to self-publishing. With self-publishing you have to pay out of pocket to publish your book, and play the role of publisher and all the other publishing roles I mentioned above…while you’re writing your next book. It’s a lot of money and a lot of work, and many writers have found mega success that way. They love having the creative control, and being able to work around their own schedule. They are also very business savvy, and understand the ins and outs of publishing pretty well.
On the other hand, others have found that they could afford to publish one or two books on their own, but didn’t make back their investment and couldn’t afford to self-publish anymore. It can cost several hundred, and even thousands of dollars to publish a book. They still have awesome stories to tell in that world, so they search out a publisher who’s willing to take on previously published projects as well as new ones (which, by the way, we do at Carina Press!). I’ll go into more detail on that in a little bit.
And then there’s the hybrid author. I’ve seen many authors find some great success with the hybrid model of publishing. For example, they can publish three books in a year with their traditional publisher but can write five or six books in a year. They need flexibility with their publisher’s deadlines and working with two publishers might be tough to juggle, although it does happen, of course! So they self-publish the extra books they can write, and both brands have the potential to do very well. One, because the author’s backlist is promoting the new books. Two, because they have a wider range of markets they can hit with a traditional publisher that they wouldn’t have reached on their own. Those markets work together to build the author’s brand, and direct readers to all their books.
When considering previously published works, there are many things I have to take into account. Why didn’t it take off when it was published before? Can we do anything editorially or marketing-wise that will bring some notice? If the book wasn’t edited well previously, does the author’s brand now have a reputation for lack of quality? The market is constantly evolving, so is the book the author published three years ago still in a market that’s thriving? What are the author’s plans for the rest of the series? And those are just a few.
When I ask authors why they want to work with a publisher on this book now, I get mostly the same responses. They want to focus on what they do well, which is the writing. They need professionals to help them produce a book that will sell. They feel isolated and crave a team to work with. They would like to work with a publisher who has connections to get wider distribution. They want to boost their career to the next level. They don’t have the funds to consistently publish their own books.
This is why I strongly urge you to look ahead a few years when you’re deciding where you want to go with your publishing career. Don’t only look at six months from now. Look at five to seven years from now. Take your budget, your schedule, and the unexpected into account. Can you sustain the role of being your own publisher while balancing that role with writing and the rest of your life? Do you even want to? Don’t just look at these things at face value. Talk to other authors who have published traditionally and on their own. Get a large sample of opinions, and join some online forums, too. While you might have friends who are doing really well in one area, you might not do so well, or even like it—so be careful not to follow a particular path because it worked great for somebody else. The most important thing you can do for your writing career is to do your research and make informed decisions on the right choices for you.
At Carina Press we love working with hybrid authors, and in fact, I work with a few myself! We’ve even included information about authors’ self-published books in the backmatter of their Carina books. We are also happy to acquire books that have been previously published, as long as the author plans to write more new books for us. If you are submitting a previously published book, be sure you have ideas to continue your series, and let us know what you’re planning with a brief series synopsis. No matter how you’ve published in the past, or plan to in the future, we are excited to work with you to make your ideas the strongest they can be.
Thank you for reading—we hope these tips have you excited to submit your manuscript to Carina Press! Here are some quick references to help you through the submissions process:
Looking for more information on our submissions process? We’ll have more posts coming in this series, and in the meantime, you can read about our acquisitions process here, and find out more about what an editor does here.
Ready to submit? Click here to start your publishing journey with Carina Press!
We know it can be hard to choose your next great read, especially with dozens of male/male romances to decide between at Carina Press. So we’ve put together a quiz to help guide your choice. Take the quiz and tell us in the comments which Carina Press male/male romance will be your next read!
Get ready to find the romance perfect for you! These contemporary romances will keep your eyes glued to the page…keep reading to find your new favorite book.
The final, heart-pounding installment of the darkly suspenseful, sinfully sexy Vengeful Love series
I loved him with all of me.
It wasn’t enough.
Gregory Ryans was everything I wanted, but he didn’t trust me with the truth.
When I walked away from him, I should have known Gregory would follow. For a man like him, walking away—no matter the odds—is never an option.
He’s come to offer me the deal of a lifetime: his heart. All his secrets. Him. Forever.
But at what cost?
The past refuses to stay buried. There are things about his family, dangerous things even Gregory didn’t know.
This time, we’ll have to fight together to save what we’ve built. To show our enemies that love like ours can’t be destroyed.
I believe that.
Jonas needs Tate. He just doesn’t know it yet.
Or at least, he doesn’t want to admit it. Because there is no way Jonas Ashcroft is gay. He’s a straight, carefree frat boy player, just like any good son of a conservative state senator. If only his struggle to convince everyone—especially himself—didn’t leave him so miserable. No matter how many girls or bottles he drowns himself in, Jonas can neither escape nor accept who he is.
Enter Tate. He’s smart, confident, and instantly sees right through Jonas’s surly exterior. Sure, he’s done things in life he’s not proud of, but he knows who he is and what he wants. And what he wants is Jonas. As their easy friendship intensifies into something more, Tate introduces Jonas to a life he’s never known. One filled with acceptance and sex and a love that terrifies and excites them both.
But some inner demons refuse to be shaken off so easily. When Jonas’s old life barges in, he faces a shattering choice, one that could destroy everything he and Tate have fought so hard for. Sometimes love just isn’t enough—and sometimes it’s exactly what you need.
Player vs. Player. Fight!
Brilliant graphic designer Ravi Tandel is ahead of the game—he’s just been asked to present a top secret project at a huge conference in Seattle. All systems are go…until he learns his buttoned-up office nemesis is coming along for the ride.
Tristan Jones isn’t really the gamer type, but he knows the back end of the video game business inside out. Together, he and Ravi will give an awesome presentation. If they survive the cross-country trip first.
Tossed together in close quarters, Ravi’s shocked to see Tristan’s sexy, softer side emerge from such a conservative shell. He’s less shocked to learn his handsome colleague’s prominent family would never support an out-and-proud son. But Ravi didn’t struggle through his own coming out to hide who he is now. To be together, Tristan will have to push past his fear and ultimately decide: Does he want a future with Ravi? Or is it game over before they’ve even begun?
Book Two of the #gaymers series
The stakes have never been higher as an elite team member must outwit a dangerous killer and save the man she’s sworn to protect. The second installment of the exhilarating Safeguard series from Piper J. Drake.
Kyle Yeun didn’t start out bad and he doesn’t intend to end his life while on the wrong side of the law, either. His testimony to his former employer’s environmental misdeeds has earned him a protection detail compliments of the US government. But due to a dark international conspiracy Kyle was unaware of, his former employers have made ending his life a top priority. Realizing he needs more protection than the US Marshals can provide, he turns to Safeguard after seeing the beautiful, deadly Lizzy Scott in action.
One look at Kyle, and sniper Lizzy Scott knows this isn’t going to be an easy protection job. He’s arrogant, irritating and almost irresistible. Instead of being put off by her hardened attitude, Kyle seems to thrive off the challenge. And she’s slowly giving in to his charms.
After narrowly escaping the latest assassination attempt, Lizzy starts taking dangerous risks to keep him safe. But the last thing Kyle wants is another life ruined because of his actions. He found his redemption in Lizzy’s arms and he’ll risk everything to make sure they both make it out alive. As will she, even if it means walking away from him to keep him safe.
Book two of the Safeguard series
I should never have agreed to it.
A woman will do a lot to keep her husband happy. But when my husband sells me to the highest bidder—billionaire, former navy SEAL, pride of Boston’s business scene—I agree, not to keep him happy, but because it gives me the chance to finally escape. Escape my marriage, escape my debts, escape my life…
Josh Lane demands a steep price: my pride and my morals. But the truth is, I’ve never felt anything like what I feel for him. He brings color into my gray world. And his insistence that I submit to his commands—his depraved, filthy, amazing commands—only feeds my craving to be taken by him. Again. And again.
I should never have agreed to it, but I’m so glad I did.
I don’t need to pay to keep women in my bed. Though my preferences may be unorthodox, I never leave a woman unsatisfied—far from it. Lily Boswell, though… Her innocence draws me, her secrets intrigue me. Having her is worth dealing with her cowardly scum of a husband.
I want to release her passions and heal her wounds.
On my terms.
Because the blindfolds and restraints hide more than she could imagine. I must keep her safe from the people who would destroy me—and the demons that haunt my dreams.
“I am not sure there are enough words for me to tell you how much I loved this book.” –Goodreads review, A Geek Girl’s Guide to Arsenic
“Recommend, Recommend, Recommend!!” –Goodreads review, Hunger Aroused
“I definitely recommend and can’t wait for more from Ms. Burkhart.” –Goodreads reivew, Two Cuts Darker
Flowers, chocolate, and breakfast in bed are all nice ways to celebrate the mom in your life. But here are our top eight gifts every writing mom would swoon for. Feel free to drop hints or gift yourself. You deserve it!
Best invite ever…written on Aqua Notes. From my friend @writernwaiting for the launch of her new book: GodPretty in the Tobacco Field. I totally needed these! I get so many ideas in the shower and the forget by the time I'm out. (P.S. You must read her memoir The Unbreakable Child.) #kimmichelerichardson #memoir #godprettyinthetobaccofield #aquanotes #booksigning
Do your plot bunnies show up while you’re in the shower? Here’s to no more great ideas down the drain!
It seems everyone is using planners these days and they’ve come a long way from the Dinky Diary of yesteryear! So go ahead and ask for the Passion Planner you’ve been lusting for or a gorgeous Erin Condren organizer.
Edits for our coffee table book coming this fall! #joshcellars #interior #interiordesign #coffeetablebook #custom #reclaimed #family #home #house #ilovemyjob #wehavethebestclients #supportlocal #selfpublished #selfpublished #lilac #wine30 #instamood #picoftheday #designedtobehome #seattle #kirkland #emeraldcity #pilotpens
Even if you write exclusively on your tablet or computer, every writer needs their trusty pen. Whether you’re faithful to the V5 Pilot or prefer a standard Bic, this is one tool you should never leave home without. Looking for something extra special? Livescribe pens will sync what you write to your computer. ::mind blown::
When you’re working on a story, hours can pass by in a flash. Don’t let temperature fluctuations interrupt your writing flow! You may think foot duvets would only be appropriate for the winter, but when you’re writing with the air conditioning blasting on a hot summer day, you’ll change your mind. ;)
Whether you’re writing, reading, or working the day job, it’s important to stay hydrated. You might as well be entertained in the process!
When you’re holed up with your manuscript, it’s easy for cooking and cleaning to fall by the wayside. Taking a writer out for dinner, booking a cleaning service, or dropping by with a home-cooked meal are all thoughtful ways to show them you care.
Every Carina Press ebook includes a letter from Carina Press Editorial Director Angela James to you! She gives you a peek inside all of the amazing books published by Carina Press that month. Get ready for your TBR list to grow; here is a handy guide to all of our May 2016 releases. Enjoy!
I don’t know about you, but when someone asks me for book recommendations, I first ask them what some of their favorite authors or books are, so I can give them something similar, but different. Taste matching is a pretty common way of getting recommendations for anything, really, from chocolate to TV shows to books, so I decided to do some taste matching with our Carina Press May titles.
If you love Kristen Ashley…
Anna del Mar’s contemporary romance may be just up your alley. One of the things I love about Kristen is that she tends to write long, giving us a chance to dive into the characters and relationships, and Anna offers the same great escape. In At the Brink, Josh Lane is blunt, ruthless, intense and exacting; a workaholic driven by internal demons; a man who doesn’t play games, except in bed, of course, where he is always in command. Lily Boswell is trapped in a dangerous situation and Josh has no problem taking advantage of that—to protect her and to get her into his bed.
If you love Jackie Collins or Sidney Sheldon…
Remember the awesome sweeping international feel of the ’80s glam romances? The characters were wealthy, they were dramatic, and they were no-holds-barred. Join Laura Carter’s Vengeful Love trilogy as it takes us from London to Dubai in a dark and suspenseful, sinfully sexy tale of love, betrayal and sex. Pick up books one and two before diving into this month’s nail-biting finale, Vengeful Love: Black Diamonds.
If you love Josh Lanyon…
You’ll love A.M. Arthur. Both Josh and A.M. are wonderful at sweeping readers into brilliant characterization and developing relationships. In Come What May, the first book in the brand-new All Saints series from A.M. Arthur, we meet Jonas Ashcroft—son of a conservative state senator, carefree frat-boy player, and definitely not gay. But when Jonas meets Tate, he’s introduced to a life he’s never known. One filled with acceptance and sex and a love that terrifies them both.
If you love Eloisa James or Sarah MacLean…
The sharp wit of Sarah and the fabulous heroine-centric story lines of both Sarah and Eloisa are some of my favorite things about their historical romances. Amanda Weaver’s Grantham Girls trilogy shares similarities with both and is absolutely delightful. A spirited heiress is determined to land a titled husband, but an undeniable passion with a man from her past threatens both of their futures in A Common Scandal.
If you love Pamela Clare…
Suspense, romance, action…what’s not to love about Pamela Clare? Piper J. Drake follows in Clare’s bestselling footsteps with her romantic suspense Safeguard series. Kyle Yeun is a very bad man and way too tempting in all the wrong ways, but mercenary Lizzy Scott needs to keep him alive long enough to provide Deadly Testimony in court even if it means there will be no rest for the wicked.
If you love Heidi Cullinan…
Annabeth Albert is an author you should check out. Fun and fabulous, romantic and swoon-worthy. Beta Test is an enemies-to-lovers, opposites-attract road-trip romance that will remind you of all the things you love about male/male romance.
If you love Linnea Sinclair or Sharon Lee or Steve Miller…
That’s right, if you’ve been craving a dynamite space-opera romance, then you’ve been missing out on the Chaos Station series by Kelly Jensen and Jenn Burke. Love in space? Yes, please. Good versus evil? Check. An ongoing romance that sweeps the galaxy book over book? Delivered. Start where the adventure begins in Chaos Station and devour the titles leading to this month’s release, Phase Shift.
Backlist bonus taste matching:
If you love Jaci Burton…
Make sure you’re not missing out on Kate Willoughby’s In the Zone contemporary sports romances.
If you love Liliana Hart…
You’ll be enamored with the spunky Lexi Carmichael mysteries from Julie Moffett.
And if you love the Hitman series from Jessica Clare and Jen Frederick…
The dangerous hero of Didn’t I Warn You by Amber Bardan is right up your alley!
As always, until next month here’s wishing you a wonderful month of books you love, remember and recommend.
Editorial Director, Carina Press