A call for historical submissions

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A few weeks back, we had a fun call for historical submissions circulating on some of the historical blogs and writing chapters. I don’t want anyone to think that this means we’re only looking for historical submissions, only that we decided to do something fun with them. In the future, we may do something like this for erotic romance, fantasy, m/m romance, etc., but even if we don’t, we still are actively seeking those genres, and all other genres. Essentially, we’re looking for a compelling story, so don’t wait for us to single out a particular genre, before you feel you can send your submission in! So, with that prefaced, here’s our call for historical submissions!

Hoop skirts, brocade, feathered headdresses, kid gloves, kid slippers, horses, carriages, talk of locomotion (not Kylie Minogue’s!), Queen Victoria, cowboys, discussion of women’s suffrage, ratafia, corsets, chemises, calling cards, pelisses, peers of the realm, cutthroats, Mary Wollstonecraft, six-shooters, hothouse flowers, wallflowers, parties lit by candles, cowboy hats, bluestockings, hunts, hounds, masquerades, horses, operas and operettas, tours of Italy, grand tours, wars (Napoleonic, Crimean), revolutions (French, Russian)…

Do you love these things? We do, and we want to read more about them—and share them with our readers! Carina Press’s acquisitions team and editors have begged me to find more historical fiction and romance, so I’m putting out the call. If you have a completed historical manuscript, 15,000 words and up, Carina Press would love to see it. We’re looking for both historical romance and historical fiction (with or without the romance subplot) of any steam level (including none, none at all). Historical Victorian, Regency, Western, turn of the century or whatever other time period you’ve chosen to write in, we’re interested in publishing some amazing historical work. Our submissions guidelines can be found at www.carinapress.com/submission-guidelines and we’re working through submissions very quickly, due to the large number of us reading them, so you won’t be waiting until summer (or next year) for an answer!

We hope you’ll take this post and pass it on, post it on your blog, direct your friends to it and let them know: Carina Press is looking for historical fiction and romance!

Want to know more about the people behind the Carina Press acquisitions and their love of all things historical? I asked them to share thoughts about favorite authors, books and just what they love about historical romance and historical fiction in general.

I’ll start (Angela James, Executive Editor): I love historicals for the things I learn. When I was in sixth grade, I visited the junior high, as a kind of orientation for the next school year. We were all assigned a seventh grade buddy, who we attended classes with for the day. In her history class, the teacher asked, “What was Queen Mary’s nickname?” I was the only one who knew the answer was “Bloody Mary” and that was because of the historical romances I’d been reading (yes, in sixth grade). I got mad props from the seventh graders (upperclassmen!) for knowing that answer!

I adore Julie Garwood’s old historicals and have for many years. They’re some of my very favorite re-reads, and books I will never give up because, even after all these years, they still make me laugh out loud, smile, and fall in love with both the hero and the heroine. Despite historical inaccuracies and what some might call a wallpaper-historical effect, I love them and I continue to recommend them to friends for the fun storylines and relatable characters.

Amy Wilkins, Acquisitions Team:
I love The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig for its incredible blend of adventure, comedy and romance.

(plus it amused me that the hero and heroine are named Amy and Richard — my boyfriend’s name is Richard!)

Melissa Johnson, Editor: I love Kresley Cole’s MacCarrick Brothers Trilogy because one of the heroines is actually not from France or the British Isles, and Cole’s heroes are all crazy-hot for the women they love. I don’t even mind that the brothers are each crazy-hot in basically the same way.

Deborah Nemeth, Editor: I love the sparkling prose and witty dialogue of Eloisa James. In the Desperate Duchess series she went beyond the typical Regency to the Georgian period, one that I love.

I’d also love to get some historical manuscripts set in the Italian Renaissance and the Tudor/Elizabethan courts that feature political intrigue. The Roman empire between Augustus-Claudius (the setting of the I, Claudius series) would also be good for this type of political story.
I’d also love an adventure story set during the Crusades–perhaps from the Saracen point of view. A romance featuring a troubadour during the time of Eleanor of Aquitaine. I also enjoy the roaring twenties, Paris during the Belle Époque, and England during both WWI and WW2.

Andrea Kerr, Acquisitions Team: You can quote me: “I admit it: I love historicals for the gowns!”

More seriously, one thing I really like about historical romance is that there is built-in conflict. Relationships between men and women were governed by very different and intricate social rules that simply could not be crossed. So it’s believable to me that the hero and heroine in a historical can’t be together because they are on different social levels, for example, or because they are unable to come out and say how they feel. In a contemporary romance, it takes a LOT more to convince me that two available people who are obviously attracted to each other can’t just sit down and work through their differences and be together.

Gina Bernal, Editor: I love the emotional depth of Mary Balogh’s historicals, because she takes characters to the lowest of low points and yet makes me believe time and again that love does conquer all. Lately, I’ve been hankering for a good harem romance and love all sorts of unusual settings and underexplored time periods–from Vikings, Romans and Celts to Caribbean pirates and WWII resistance fighters.

Emily Matheson, Acquisitions Team: I love Eloisa James. Everything she’s written. Not only do I love her characters (they’re always smart), but I always learn something– be it about politics in Georgian England or how migraines were treated in the regency period. It’s the best way to be educated.

Elizabeth Bass, Editor: I`d love to find an author who could single-handedly bring western historicals back into popularity!

Jenny Bullough, Acquisitions Team: Like most of us here at Harlequin, I’m a huge fan of Deanna Raybourn’s MIRA historicals, because as much as I love Regencies it’s a treat to read historical novels set in the Victorian era for a change! With Carina Press open to any and all eras and settings, I’m always excited to read submissions that are set in unusual or different eras or places — from ancient Rome or Egypt to turn-of-the-century America or WWII Japan, from the Salem witch trials to Renaissance Italy!!

Kymberly Hinton, Editor: I love Judith McNaught’s rich, evocative language because it makes me feel like I’m right there with the characters, and she’s the first author who helped me to realize that “reformed rakes make the best husbands.” I also adore Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series because she has a rare ability to make me laugh, cry, and jump for joy all in the same book.

2/9/2010 Submissions update

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This blog is probably going to be mostly about submissions this week, just be warned! I’m going to blog about personalized rejections later this week, as well as post a call for submissions that’s been circulating, and then also a post with clips from the editors’ notes to me, highlighting some of the most common reasons we’re rejecting. But for today, an update.

Yesterday, I spent the entire day (and when I say day, I mean well over 8 hours) in the submissions inbox, going through all of the editor reports, updating our spreadsheet and emailing authors. If you didn’t get a response, it’s because your submission is still under consideration (or your response got lost in cyberspace). We’re nearly done with all November submissions, with the exception of the reissues, which are still being looked at by the editors. Other than that, there are probably less than five November submissions still under consideration by the editors.

We’ve also made good inroads into the December and January submissions. We have…maybe ten December submissions still under consideration, and those are all from the second half of December. It looks like all submissions from December 1-15th have gotten responses (again, except for reissues). Many submissions from January have already gotten responses.

What does this mean for you? The response time is now well within 10 weeks, and if you’re thinking of submitting, now is a good time because much of the editors’ focus is still on submissions and acquisitions. I expect, in the next few weeks, that will change to more of a focus on editorial.

What publication dates are we acquiring for? We’re still acquiring for Summer 2010 publication, so you’re potentially looking at six months to publication if your manuscript is accepted.

Some statistics for those of you who like that type of thing:
To date we’ve had over 560 submissions of full manuscripts.
Rejected: 355
Accepted: 33
Revisions requested: 25 (this is a high number, I don’t anticipate this will continue, but you never know)
Revisions Resubmitted: 6
Active submissions currently with editors: 70
Acquisition percentage: 8.5% (keeping in mind that over 1/3–around 14–of the acquisitions were not slush, but from authors we had worked with before or had a previous relationship with, so the slush acquisition percentage is lower than 8%, probably closer to 5% but still a pretty good number and one that I see might be higher in the coming weeks)

For those who don’t want to do math, that means we’ve responded to over 400 manuscripts since opening in November, which is, I think, pretty impressive since every manuscript gets looked at and sometimes by more than one editor. Plus, that’s a lot of emails (I know, I sent most of them). I only wish I were sending a few more of the positive kind of emails (or phone calls!) but we continue to see some very promising some submissions and I hope we’ll see even more in the months ahead.

Week 13…editors and submissions

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I made some inroads into working through the copy editor tests and developmental editor emails. I’ll be sending out some emails today, but I’m still working on copy editors. Copy editors are actually much more difficult to hire than developmental editors, for some reason. Part of it is that, over the years, I’ve found that some people think they have the chops for copy editing, because they pick out typos or missing punctuation in the books they read, but the truth is that copy editing is an incredibly multi-layered position and to be a copy editor, you have to be highly skilled, very detail-oriented, know the ins and outs of the Chicago Manual of Style and grammar rules quite well, and be able to remember details, timelines and other things in order to compare and spot inconsistencies. In short, it takes amazing focus and not many of us have that.

I know some of you have been waiting for a submissions update. There are still November books under consideration. This could generally be considered a good thing, because taking longer means they’re getting a closer look. Any reprints submitted are still under consideration while we worked out our plan for them. We’ve got that in place and editors are looking through them as we speak. Because of the number of editors we have, at any given time, anywhere from 70 to 130 submissons are being actively reviewed. Now that we’re up and running, response times will be well within the 8 to 12 weeks for anyone submitting. I’ll do a more thorough submissions update this week, but we’re moving very quickly through submissions and now is a good time to get your submission in, as we’re still looking to acquire for Summer 2010 release. We’re especially targeting erotic romance, contemporary and paranormal romance, m/m romance, fantasy, science fiction and historical. But we’ve acquired across the board in all fiction genres, so if you have a good story, get it polished and send it in!

Something new we’ve started and just announced the first date for to our authors: we’ll be doing live meeting chats (using phone and computer) with our authors on a regular basis. These are going to include chats about general items, what’s happening at Carina, marketing tips and training, and more.

On that note, you know what I’ll be working on this week (submissions! copy editors!) and I’ll do a submission update later this week. In the meantime, I’ll be doing all that huddled here inside and trying to avoid looking out my window. Here in my part of Maryland, we got about 16 inches of snow. In addition to the ten we already had. More than we normally get in 3 or 4 years of winter. I’m going to sit inside and pretend it’s summer. Who’s with me?

Carrie Lofty title poll results

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Two weeks ago we held a poll for Carrie Lofty’s upcoming historical romance and I promised to announce the results. I apologize for the delay, but Carrie and I were also talking behind the scenes about the final title result and an idea she had and we needed a little extra time to get the details of that in place so we could share them at the same time.

On that note (ha ha, play on words purely unintentional), I’m thrilled to announce that Song of Seduction was the winning title in the poll, with 42% of well over two hundred votes. And I’m also thrilled to announce that the new title inspired Carrie to brainstorm an idea for a follow-up book, Portrait of Seduction, which she has also contracted with Carina Press!

Portrait of Seduction

Gifted painter Gretchen Zweig earns her keep by forging masterpieces, whereby wealthy families can hide the priceless originals from Napoleon’s advancing armies. She yearns to be known for her own work, but her uncle, a destitute marquis, exploits her desire for an advantageous marriage. Oliver Doerger, a German duke’s bastard and former soldier, poses as a valet in order to further his aristocratic half-brother’s political career. He, too, longs to emerge from the shadows—to be regarded not as a spy but as a respected member of society.

When someone begins marketing Gretchen’s forgeries as originals, Oliver is drawn into her world of art and subterfuge. She will do anything to shield her family from scandal, even if that means resisting her improper attraction to the intense, surprising valet. But the appearance of a charismatic grifter threatens to reveal a shameful debt from Oliver’s past. Caught between love and duty, he must choose between honoring his loyalties and indulging in a passionate affair with Gretchen that could expose them both.

Thank you to everyone who voted! The runner-up title was Heart Strings, with 26% of the votes. An interesting tidbit for you: no matter how many votes the poll had, from the beginning, Song of Seduction always held around 40% of the votes and Heart Strings around 25%. The percentages never varied more than two points in either direction.

Song of Seduction will be available for purchase in June 2010 and we’ll be revealing the (beautiful) cover soon!

Meet Andrea…what’s on her wishlist?

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Andrea Kerr, Producer, eHarlequin.com

I have a confession to make. I don’t own a dedicated eReader. I know you’re wondering, how can that be possible for a member of the Carina Press acquisition team? Well, as Producer of the Online Reads program on eHarlequin.com, I can tell you that a good story is a good story in any format, and strong writing compels me to turn the page, whether it be printed or digital.

In my day job, I’ve had the pleasure of working with hundreds of authors who write everything from inspirational romance to erotica. It’s given me an appreciation for a variety of genres, even ones I might not normally read outside of work. In addition, I like to think of the online reads as the “original” ebooks.  So, despite the current lack of an eReader device in my life, being part of the acquisition team is a natural fit for me. I am beyond excited to be on the front lines of Carina Press, searching for fresh voices and unique stories!

So what are we looking for at Carina? Speaking on behalf of the entire team, we want a good story, well-told. We are readers, after all, even those members of the team who don’t spend their days editing. I think it’s fair to say that the love of the written word is what brought most of us to this line of work in the first place. Every time we read a new submission, we’re excited about the possibilities. We WANT to love your story and we’re on your side, really! Yes, rejections happen, but trust me, it’s not something any of us enjoys doing. After all, our reason for being is to put stories into the hands of readers, and to do that, we need to acquire books! The cool thing about Carina Press is, we’re open to submissions that might not fit into one of the print programs Harlequin currently publishes.

And what about me–what am I looking for personally, as an editor? I have a penchant for well-drawn characters, characters that are believeable and relatable and layered (everyone has flaws, right?) I love witnessing the development of the characters over the course of the book, seeing how they react to what happens to them, being convinced that they are changed by their experiences (or not).

That’s not very specific, is it? That’s because I learned long ago that fascinating characters and compelling stories can be found in any genre, and I’m open to just about anything. As long as it’s well-written.

As for that dedicated eReader? It’s on my wish list! Now, if only I could claim it as a business expense…

Andrea Kerr is the Producer on eHarlequin.com, which is a fancy way of saying web content editor. She also works on the acquisitions team for Carina Press. She has a particular fondness for historical romance, and must admit she often checks that particular Carina Press folder first. Andrea is happy that she finally has something to watch on TV now that Lost has returned! A mother of two young boys, she gets far too little sleep, and thrives on unconditional love and coffee instead. A dedicated eReader device IS in her future.