Submission Guidelines

Updates of note:

Please note that our submission guidelines have changed and as of March 1st, 2014, we will no longer be accepting unsolicited submissions of novellas under 35,000 words. All unsolicited manuscripts under 35,000 words will be declined. Please note that some individual genres have higher word count requirements, which are listed below.

Mystery: 70,000 words and up

Paranormal romance: 50,000 words and up

Historical romance: 50,000 words and up

Romantic suspense: 50,000 words and up

Science fiction: 50,000 words and up

Fantasy: 50,000 words and up

Submissions that fall under these word counts will be declined. If you have a current submission under this word count, we are working our way through all active submissions and sending decline emails based on word count, but you may choose to withdraw it.

Special calls for submissions:

New Adult

Contemporary Crack

What the editors want (updated February 2014)

About Us

Carina Press is one of Harlequin’s digital-first adult fiction single-title imprints, publishing first in digital, with releases in audio and print as well.

Our mission is to connect readers with authors who write the stories they want to read, and the stories they want to talk about and recommend. Though Harlequin is mainly known as a romance publisher, Carina Press publishes a wide range of adult fiction genres and features books from talented authors in all genres, including romance, science fiction, fantasy, mystery and more.

But Carina Press is interested in more than just the traditional genres. We’re also willing to go beyond the boundaries and mix it up. If the book of your heart fits into a niche that has very little shelf space in a traditional bookstore, Carina Press is eager to read and potentially publish your story.

Want to find out more about Carina Press staff, editors and authors? See this page for links to staff on social media. Visit this page for information on the editors and what they’re looking for.

Our submissions guidelines are below. If you have any questions, please first see our Submissions FAQ. If your question was not answered you can email us at submissions@carinapress.com. Please allow 72 business hours for a response.

WHAT WE’RE SEEKING…

We are currently acquiring We do not publish/no longer accept submissions in
All subgenres and heat levels of romance (excluding inspirational romance) Non-fiction of any form, including memoirs, biographies, poetry
New Adult Women’s Fiction
Historical romance Horror
Mystery and Crime (all sub genres) Thrillers
Action Adventure Literary Fiction
Science Fiction (and sub genres) Faith-based/inspirational fiction or romance
Fantasy (and sub genres) General historical fiction (any historical fiction that does not contain mystery, fantasy, alternate history or romance as primary focus)
Interactive Adventures Young Adult

 

Carina Press is a fiction imprint. If your manuscript is 35,000 words or longer and fits what we are looking for, as described in the above chart or in the genre categories below, we will consider it! We will not look at manuscripts under 35,000 words, nor will we consider non-fiction.

We publish a majority of romance but are also very interested in and publish science fiction, fantasy and mystery, as well as niches such as steampunk, interactive adventures, male/male, time travel, Westerns and futuristics. If you have something new and fresh in a genre we acquire, we would be happy to read your story!

Important note: We do not require genre fiction books such as mystery, science fiction, and fantasy to have romantic elements. We read, acquire and publish nonromance with no romantic elements, as well! If you have a mystery, science fiction or fantasy manuscript that has no romantic elements, we want to see it.

Your passion, quality of writing and voice is what will make your manuscript stand out and be considered for publication.

For submissions of young adult, please consider either Harlequin TEEN Digital or HarlequinE Digital First.

Romance

We are seeking submissions in all subgenres of romance with all levels of sensuality. We welcome everything from the very sweet to the incredibly erotic, featuring couples (or multiples) from all walks of life and sexual orientation, including same-sex romances. Romances should focus on the development of the relationship, as well as external and internal conflict; the heat level should be appropriate to the book and enhance the story, and the primary relationship in the book should offer a happily ever after (HEA) or happily for now (HFN) in an emotionally satisfying manner. Sorry, but one of the couple cannot die or leave the other if it’s to be sold as a romance!

Subgenres of romance we are seeking include, but are not limited to, historical, romantic suspense, romantic comedy, futuristic, gay/lesbian, contemporary, Western, paranormal, erotic romance and fantasy.

Genre specific word counts (if we don’t have a specific word count listed, we will accept 35,000 and up):

Historical romance: 50,000 words and up

Romantic suspense: 50,000 words and up

Paranormal romance: 50,000 words and up

Romantic suspense authors should also look at our mystery guidelines below.

Miniseries have proven to be very popular with readers and Carina Press is looking for interesting twists on established popular-romance themes and tropes (marriage of convenience, cowboys, friends to lovers, billionaires, shifters, secret babies and more). We are interested in seeing your fresh interpretation on these tropes and themes. The only limit is your imagination!

Please also see the science fiction and fantasy guidelines.

Erotic Romance

Carina Press continues to acquire submissions in the erotic romance genre. While we are acquiring works of 35,000 words and up, we are particularly interested in novel-length stories (60,000 words or more) with series potential. The language in these books should be frank and explicit, with the sensuality and sexuality of the story integral parts of the plot and themes. Sexual tension and explosive chemistry between the protagonists is key in building the intensity of the story and sexiness of the erotic romance. Additionally, erotic romances should have a happily ever after or happily for now in the romance between two or more characters.

New Adult

Carina Press is now accepting submissions in the New Adult genre. We are looking for submissions with a strong story and fully developed, very definable protagonists, 18 and above, (or at an age eligible to enter college), through their early to mid-20s. While at least one protagonist should fall in this age range, it is possible the other protagonist may fall in their upper 20s, but it’s necessary that they’re both no more than ~28. Sorry, characters in their 30s are past that New Adult stage of life!

Story elements should be targeted to an adult, not a teen audience, and should contain adult contemporary themes, frank, modern language, high relationship drama and intense conflict. Characters’ actions, dress and dialogue should all be age appropriate. Think of the relationship drama of the college years and run with that!

Other elements that work in this genre (but are not required in order to be considered for publication) include increased sensuality, love triangles, protagonists with traumatic events in their background, and protagonists who have celebrity status—actors, musicians, athletes, etc. (Please do not use real celebrities.)

Stories can be stand alone or as part of a series. For those that are part of a series, please also submit a series overview—a brief, one-page outline of future books or plot elements.

As we are seeking new adult romances, these stories should contain a happily ever after or happily for now. If the relationship takes place over the course of several books and the HEA will occur in a later book, please submit a series overview as stated above.

We’re looking for manuscripts of 50,000 words and up, and although we are particularly interested in the contemporary genre, we will also consider books in other subgenres as well (such as paranormal, postapocalyptic, dystopian, etc).

Check out these two blog posts for more information on New Adult:

Science fiction and fantasy

Carina Press is extremely interested in acquiring manuscripts in these genres. Science fiction and fantasy submissions are not required to have any romantic elements in order to be considered for publication. Under these genres, we are also very interested in space opera, cyberpunk and other similar subgenres.

Minimum word count in this genre is 50,000 words and up.

Mystery

We are open to the full range of mysteries, from soft to hard, including cozies, procedurals, historical mysteries and contemporary PIs. A selection of our mysteries, thrillers and romantic suspense titles go to print via Harlequin’s Direct to Consumer Reader Service Suspense program and are also made available for sale in print on Harlequin.com.

Minimum word count in this genre is 70,000 words and up.

Interactive Fiction with Multiple/Alternate Endings

Do you have a 21st-century way of telling a story that allows the reader to interact with the book and choose their own path through the story, with multiple endings available? Check out our first release in this genre, Choose Your Shot: An Interactive Erotic Adventure by Christine D’Abo.

Previously released material

Carina Press will also consider books that have been previously released, but for which the author has either retained digital rights or had rights revert to them. To submit previously published material, please follow the below guidelines and submit it to Angela James via our Submittable process.

 

HOW TO SUBMIT

All submissions should now be submitted via our new submissions website: https://carinapress.submittable.com/submit

Please submit queries for only completed, fully polished manuscripts, unless previously arranged otherwise with an editor. Queries must include the following and will not be reviewed if any piece is missing:

  1. Required: In the submissions form, you will be asked for a brief, introductory query letter listing genre, word count and a short description of the book, as well as any pertinent information about the author, including both legal name and pen name and any writing credits. The query letter is your sales pitch and we use the information included in it.
  1. Required: The full manuscript saved as an RTF or DOC file and attached, with file name TITLE_MANUSCRIPT where you substitute your book’s title in place of TITLE. (example: WarAndPeace_Manuscript)
  1. Required: 2-5 page synopsis of book that details character development, plot, and conflict/story resolution. Attach as an RTF or DOC file with file name TITLE_SYNOPSIS where you substitute your book’s title in place of TITLE. (Example: WarAndPeace_Synopsis)
  2. Preferred: A short series/duology/trilogy outline to be included with submissions, especially of paranormal, fantasy and science fiction genres. The series outline doesn’t need to be more than 1-2 pages and outline the author’s plans for related books, including how many books are planned and the overall series arc, themes and characters.
  1. Please be sure to put the following information on the first page of all files: manuscript name, author pen name/legal name, email address, phone number, genre and word count. If you don’t include your phone number, it makes it impossible for us to make The Call!
  1. Combined size of both attachments must be under 4 MB in size. We’re unable to send files larger than this to our editors due to restrictions in our email system. If your manuscript is over 4 MB, please remove extra images, delete extraneous styles or font use that may increase file size

Please allow 12 weeks for an editorial response to your submission. If a response has not been received after 12 weeks, please follow-up via your submittable account at https://carinapress.submittable.com/submit by adding a note to your submission log.

If you have questions prior to submission, you can email submissions@carinapress.com However, no attachments, query letters or submissions should be sent to this address. Please allow 72 business hours for a response.

All submissions should now be submitted via our new submissions website: https://carinapress.submittable.com/submit

All submissions will receive an auto-response from Submittable acknowledging receipt of submission. If you don’t receive an auto-response, please send a follow-up email, with no attachments, asking for verification of receipt. Please allow 12 weeks for an editorial response to your submission. If a response has not been received after 12 weeks, please follow up via your account https://carinapress.submittable.com/submit. On your submission page you’ll see an option to submit a user note. Please do so and we will receive it.

If you receive an offer of publication from another publisher and need to know the status of your submission with us, in order to make a decision before signing a contract with another publisher, or if you need to withdraw your manuscript from consideration, you may also do this via https://carinapress.submittable.com/submit by updating your submission with a note.

Submission Tips

In addition to the FAQs below, we have compiled a list of blog posts we’ve written over the past three years that may be helpful to you in the submission process.

The Acquisition Process

Query letters. Part I: Query Dont’s

Query letters. Part II: Query Do’s

The Opposite of Rejection

Reasons for Rejection

Why we don’t do personalized rejections

Things we don’t reject books for

Why team might say no when editor says yes

Withdrawing your book from consideration

What a revise and resubmit means

Things to consider when choosing a pen name


Submissions FAQ

  1. As Carina Press is an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Ltd, how is it different from the other imprints?
  2. What are the advantages of digital publishing?
  3. Why should I choose Carina Press?
  4. What are your digital royalties?
  5. How should I format my book?
  6. My genre isn’t listed in the submission guidelines, does that mean you won’t consider it?
  7. Will you consider my book young adult simply because my characters are young?
  8. Do you publish books set in places outside the US and Canada?
  9. Does my book have to have romantic elements or a specific heat level to be published by Carina Press?
  10. Do you accept unagented submissions?
  11. Do you accept simultaneous submissions?
  12. Can I submit to Carina Press if another Harlequin imprint has rejected me?
  13. Can I submit multiple manuscripts at one time?
  14. Will Carina Press publish my book into print?
  15. Do you pay advances?
  16. Can I create my own cover art?
  17. Who should I address my submission to?
  18. My book is in first person, is that okay?
  19. Will my manuscript be edited and copy edited?
  20. Will I be charged to publish my book with Carina Press?
  21. Do I have to live in North America to be published by Carina Press?
  22. What do I do if I get an offer of publication on a book currently on submission with Carina Press?
  23. What do I do if I get an agent while I have a manuscript on submission with Carina Press?
  24. How do I withdraw a manuscript from consideration or otherwise update my submission with new information?
  25. What is the difference between Harlequin’s different digital-first imprints?
  26. If I live in the UK or Australia, do I need to submit to Carina UK or Escape?
  27. If I publish my story with Carina Press, do I retain my copyright?
  28. Why did you select the name Carina Press?
  29. What is your new logo?
  30. What if my question isn’t included in the FAQs?
  1. As Carina Press is an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Ltd, how is it different from the other imprints?

    At the very basic level, Harlequin is a traditional print publisher with a robust digital offering, while Carina Press is a digital-first imprint of Harlequin, with a mandate to publish original fiction in digital format first, print maybe.

      • The Carina Press contract does not include an advance, and authors are compensated with a higher digital royalty instead.
      • Carina Press digital titles do not use DRM (digital rights management).
      • Carina Press titles go to publication in digital format first, with possibility of print at a later date.
  2. What are the advantages of digital publishing?

    Our distribution model is strictly digital, which means we’re not limited by print bookstore shelf space — this gives us greater flexibility in the type of editorial we can accept from authors and offer to readers.

    We’re also able to quickly get new books to market — if a genre is new and developing, we want to be there with books readers are eager to read.

  3. Why should I choose Carina Press?

    We view Carina Press as a joint effort between publisher and author — we combine our editorial and marketing expertise with your passion for your story to make sure it gets into the hands of readers who will love it. Our editors are all experienced fiction editors — all come from a background of fiction editing and are tremendously talented, working with the author to polish their work until it shines.

    The marketing department provides professional cover art, marketing support, conference materials and more to both promote individual authors as well as help authors promote themselves.

    Behind the scenes, our production and retail teams work to produce a superior product and then coordinate with our 3rd party retail partners to get your title in front of readers with the most optimal placements.

    Together, we bring an enthusiastic team dedicated to the success of every author and title we publish, from the moment your book is acquired to long after it’s been published.

  4. What are your digital royalties?

    Carina Press pays 40% of net digital receipts to books sold on 3rd party retail sites and 50% of net digital receipts to books sold directly on the Carina Press website. Our contract also lays out royalties for the other rights, such as audio, print and foreign translation.
  5. How should I format my book?

    We don’t have formal formatting requirements. We only ask that you double space and use a legible, plain black font. Please see our Submission Guidelines for full details on how to send your manuscript once completed.
  6. My genre isn’t listed in the submission guidelines, does that mean you won’t consider it?

    We are not acquiring young adult, inspirational fiction, women’s fiction, family sagas, literary fiction, thrillers, or general historical fiction. If your book is a commercial fiction manuscript, but not one of those genres, we’ll take a look at it.
  7. Will you consider my book young adult simply because my characters are young?

    No. Age of characters alone will not make your book a young adult. We recognize in some genres, for instance fantasy, young protagonists may be featured in an adult-themed novel. In deciding whether you’re able to pitch your novel to us as adult fiction, please take into consideration both your targeted audience and the themes of your story. Additionally, we are now accepting New Adult, and it may be that your book may fit within those parameters.
  8. Do you publish books set in places outside the US and Canada?

    Absolutely. We’ve published books set all over the world, from Austria to Egypt to England. We don’t limit submissions based on where the book is set.
  9. Does my book have to have romantic elements or a specific heat level to be published by Carina Press?

    We do not require manuscripts that are submitted to have romantic elements or any romance at all. We’ll continue to publish nonromance in a variety of genres. In addition, we do not have any sexuality or heat level restrictions or expectations. We publish a variety of books across heat levels, from sweet to erotic. In fact, erotic romance comprises only approximately 15% of what we publish.
  10. Do you accept unagented submissions?

    Yes.
  11. Do you accept simultaneous submissions?

    Yes. However, you cannot submit to Carina Press and any other subsidiary of Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. simultaneously (i.e., Harlequin, MIRA, LUNA, Carina UK, Escape, etc.) But you are welcome to submit a manuscript to us that is also under consideration at other publishers. We only ask that you let us know immediately if it’s contracted elsewhere, so we can let our editors know it’s no longer available.
  12. Can I submit to Carina Press if Harlequin has rejected me?

    Yes, you may submit a manuscript that has been rejected by any publisher, including Harlequin. There may be very good reasons why your manuscript will not fit into a traditional print publisher’s program, but we have a great deal more flexibility and opportunities at Carina Press.
  13. Can I submit multiple manuscripts at one time?

    Yes. You can submit more than one submission to Carina Press. However, please do not send more than one book at a time in a series (i.e., don’t send books one and two in a trilogy or series, send just book one and wait for a response). For multiple submissions, please send a separate email containing all of the necessary parts for each separate story.
  14. Will Carina Press publish my book in print?

    Though our main focus is and will continue to be digital publishing, we are utilizing some print rights and continue to look for further opportunities in the future. Our books go into print through a variety of channels, including Harlequin’s subscription program, other Harlequin imprints, Carina Press trade and Carina Press mass-market via retail, and print on demand.
  15. Do you pay advances?

    No. Our author contract is strictly royalty based.
  16. Can I create my own cover art?

    As part of the Carina Press process, we take on the cover art for you. Every author provides us with as much information on their title as possible, and we work with a consistent group of artists to create covers that have a distinct Carina Press look and feel, while reflecting the genre and tone of the book. All covers are reviewed by our marketing team and the book’s editor before being sent to the author for their thoughts. Our goal is to create a cover that you’ll be proud to promote and that will attract great sales for your book.

    We ask that authors not send us prospective covers with their submissions, as we are unable to use author-produced covers.

  17. Who should I address my submission to?

    Submissions should be submitted via https://carinapress.submittable.com/submit and query letters can be addressed to Angela James or Dear Editor. Your query does not need to be personally addressed, as a team of freelance editors read all submissions. If you’d like to see which editors are specifically seeking certain genres, you can visit the editor bio section on our website and you are welcome to direct a submission to one of these editors. Additionally, our editors put out specific calls for submissions on occasion, via both their Twitter accounts and the Carina Press blog.
  18. My book is in first person, is that okay?

    Yes.
  19. Will my manuscript be edited and copy edited?

    Yes. Carina Press goes through the same rigorous acquisition and editorial development process as traditional print publishers, and sometimes more, as we utilize freelance editors whose sole job is to edit your book.
  20. Will I be charged to publish my book with Carina Press?

    No. Carina Press is not a vanity publisher and the author is not asked to pay for publication, editing, cover art or other services.
  21. Do I have to live in North America to be published by Carina Press?

    No. Carina Press authors live worldwide. We have authors in the UK, Australia, Thailand and more!
  22. What do I do if I get an offer of publication on a book currently on submission with Carina Press?

    This is a great problem to have, congratulations! If you receive an offer of publication on a manuscript currently under review by Carina Press, please let us know right away. You may, of course, choose to accept the other publisher’s offer and withdraw the manuscript from our consideration. We appreciate the courtesy of notification as it allows us to focus our time on projects still available to us. Alternately, you may wish to have us review it for possible acquisition. In this case, we ask that you give us a minimum of two weeks to review and either make an offer or pass on the project. It is never unreasonable for you to ask the publisher who’s given you the offer for a few weeks to let other publishers know and get responses from them. This is an important step and you don’t want anyone to rush you into a decision!
  23. What do I do if I get an agent while I have a manuscript on submission with Carina Press?

    Congratulations! If the agent who’s now representing your work will also be representing the manuscript on submission, please let the agent know immediately that you have it on submission with us. Either you or your agent can then alert us of the status change, as well as the agent’s contact details, and we will send our final response via your agent, rather than directly to you. Alternately, your agent may wish to withdraw the submission from consideration.
  24. How do I withdraw a manuscript from consideration or otherwise update my submission with new information?

    Now that we are using the Submittable system for submissions, withdrawing and updating your submission is easier than ever. Simply go to the Submittable account you created when you first submitted your manuscript. Find your submission and the system gives you several choices, including withdrawing or updating with a note. We receive alerts of these changes immediately.
  25. What is the difference between Harlequin’s different digital-first imprints?

    Carina Press has been a successful endeavor and Harlequin, as such, wanted to continue to provide opportunity and choice to authors. HarlequinE is Harlequin’s category digital-first line, while HQN, Teen, and MIRA digital-first programs are also single-title imprints. While there will be some natural overlap, each program is different in publication schedule and genres published, affording authors more options and choice when it comes to their publishing careers. Additionally, HarlequinE, Harlequin Teen digital-first, HQN digital first and MIRA digital first will all have a different, slightly lower, digital royalty rate than Carina Press has.
  26. If I live in the UK or Australia, do I need to submit to Carina UK or Escape?

    No, authors have the choice of where they’d like to submit, and are welcome to submit to Carina World (that’s us!) no matter where they reside.
  27. If I publish my story with Carina Press, do I retain my copyright?

    Carina Press registers the copyright on the author’s behalf upon publication of the book. Our contract does not ask for “ownership” of the copyright, but instead a grant of rights (digital, audio, print, translation, etc) from the author, as agreed upon during the contract process.
  28. Why did you select the name Carina Press?

    Carina is a constellation in the southern sky. Its name is Latin for the keel of a ship, and it was formerly part of the larger constellation of Argo Navis, which represents the Argo — the ship from Greek mythology that carried heroes Jason and the Argonauts on their successful voyage to capture the Golden Fleece.

    We’re suckers for a great story, and Greek mythology is full of fantastic stories. When we came upon Carina, the sailing imagery really appealed to us (we even included sails in our original logo) because at the time, in November 2009, we were the first and only digital-first press within any traditional publishing house, so we were sailing in a new, exciting direction into uncharted waters.

  29. What is your new logo?

    The new Carina Press logo, first introduced on our November 2013 digital titles and now found on all frontlist digital and print titles. Meant to represent the diversity and scope of the books offered within Carina Press, the logo is a cascade of books forming the letter “C”.
  30. What if my question isn’t included in the FAQs?

    Email us and we’ll respond! submissions@carinapress.com. However, we can’t help with carinapress.com purchases or shopping cart issues, so please email customerservice@carinapress.com for assistance.