Series Books that Stand Alone

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If I fall in love with an author’s world and characters, it’s wonderful to discover that there are more of them—a series, available to buy and read now.

On the other hand, I hate starting to really get into a book and then getting the sinking feeling that I’ve missed something. That this book is part of a series, and to follow along I really need to read the previous however many volumes first. This forces a decision: do I go to the trouble of buying the first book(s), or DNF and read something else in my TBR pile?

While reading the books of a series in order can be rewarding, that’s not always how we discover them. As subsequent books come out, there will always be new readers checking them out.

I like it when authors make it easy for us to read their series out of order.

If I’m reviewing manuscripts submissions for possible acquisition, I look for this quality in a sequel. This means giving the sequel its own beginning, middle and end. Giving it its own villain, or at least introducing the villain of previous adventures in a new way, in action. Likewise, all characters need to be introduced again. Prior episodes should be treated as backstory, with the focus of the book on the current conflict, goals and motivation.

A book can become overcrowded if the characters of previous books appear for no reason other than to wave at the reader and announce the birth of their youngest child. If the cast is too large, a story can sometimes lose focus.

Of course I realize there are many series that tell one long story and are really best read in order. But if the stories are independent enough, why not write the series so that each book can work as a stand-alone read?

Carina Press–call for submissions, fall ’12!

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It’s submissions week at Carina Press! Every day this week, we’ll have a new call for submissions. Friday will be a special opportunity, for one week only, for all authors sending submissions to Carina Press. I suggest holding your submission to send after you read the blog post that day (but that’s up to you, don’t say I didn’t warn you!) We’ve also updated our submissions guidelines, so please be sure to read the new information and guidelines before submitting. ~Angela

Hellooooo, everyone! As you’ve seen, this week has been all about new submissions Carina Press is looking for. Today, it’s time for our editors to do a round-up of what we’d love in our inboxes.

Of course, our standard disclaimer applies: 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.

That said, here we go:

Rhonda Helms: I’m open to pretty much everything, with or without romance. But a few genres I’m eager to read more of right now include: new adult, atypical fantasy, sci-fi/futuristic, romance (any steaminess level, though I do admit I love the super-hot stuff, haha), stories with a mythological element, historicals (especially featuring real historical figures/events), stories set in unusual locales, thrillers/horror with unusual twists, super-funny romances, books with kick-ass heroines, and anything with a multicultural element.

Gina Bernal: Though always open to romance (of all subgenres and heat levels), urban fantasy and mystery/thriller submissions, there are a few specifics I’d love to see hit my inbox:

  • I’m definitely hungry to build my contemporary, non-suspense romance list. Treat me to anything from a small-town tale to a cosmopolitan love affair, just as long as the story has high emotional stakes.
  • Historicals are always a must-read, especially those that feature the grittier side of life (think shows like Spartacus, Deadwood or Copper), unusual time periods, countries or character types (non-British nobles need love too!). And it never hurts when the history comes with a hint of adventure.
  • For paranormal romance or urban fantasy submissions, the key I’m looking for is world building. Hook me with a fascinating new universe I want to return to again and again. Fill my Game of Thrones void with sweeping fantasy or fantasy romance submissions bursting with drama and intrigue. I’m also interested in steampunk and gaslight fantasy stories, particularly those set outside of Britain.
  • Regardless of genre, I’m seeking out authors with plenty of stories to tell, preferably consistently in one or two genres. I greatly enjoy working on series, so if you have a sequel, trilogy or more planned, make sure to say so in your query.

Melissa Johnson: Melissa is looking for a story in which the main characters have electric chemistry.  She wants to read about two people who can’t resist each other and are enthralled by each other’s strengths and flaws.  In the midst of their dramatic coming together, she’d like them to have meaningful friendships or family relationships, and exist in a fleshed out world.

Krystal Gabert: I’m currently looking for a captivating police procedural. Something with a female lead who is strong but not insufferable and with a narrative that is split between solving a mystery and exploring the relationships/personal lives of the detective(s). I’m also looking for a paranormal shifter romance in which the heroine is perhaps newly turned or is secretly a shifter and is dealing with the emotional issues of living a secret life.

Jeff Seymour: I’d love to see a sci-fi romance or romantic suspense played out in deep space. Bonus points for life-threatening situations involving monsters or ship breakdowns! Steampunk or alternate-history fantasy that takes place outside of Europe and the U.S. would be great as well. And, as always, anything with deep worldbuilding, heartstring-tugging characters, or can’t-put-it-down plotting.

Deb Nemeth: I’m interested in reading manuscripts by authors who plan to write multiple books in the same genre in order to build their readership. I enjoy a wide range of fiction and content—dark, lighthearted, any heat level—but, whatever the genre, I want to see stories with strongly motivated characters and high-stakes conflict. I’m attracted by writing with energy, passion, wit and intelligence. I’m especially drawn to characters on the edge, who have a lot to lose, whether emotional or physical; characters forced out of their comfort zone into no-win situations.

My wish list includes historical and fantasy romances with epic sweep, thrillers and romantic suspense with pulse-pounding tension, cozy mysteries with brain-teasing complexity, fun capers and clever heists, m/m romance, high-adventure space opera, gritty military SF, and contemporary romances with snappy dialogue. I’m looking for historicals in periods other than Regency (Medieval, Tudor, Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian, Jazz Age). I’m crazy about exotic settings—I’d love to get a historical series set in Asia. I enjoy Arthurian and myth-based stories, multicultural characters, blue-collar heroes, SEALs, smugglers, rebels, concubines, sheriffs, spies, bluestockings, nerds and outcasts of all kinds.

Elizabeth Bass: I would love to read a gripping police procedural/thriller with a complex detective anchoring the story. Also, a creepy horror story involving mutant critters, zombies, or really scary (not romantic) supernatural beings. Historical romances of all eras, but especially ones with World War (I or II) settings, Western historicals, and historicals involving actual events/people. I’d also love to see a good mashup, such as a time travel-police procedural or a horror-historical. Nothing makes me happier than when an author takes an offbeat idea and then knocks it out of the ballpark.

Alissa Davis: I edit and love both m/f and m/m and would be happy to see either of those pairings in any of the scenarios I mention below:

  • Tortured heroes. I love ‘em.
  • Reunion romance. I’d love to see submissions where our hero or heroine returns home and falls for an old flame.
  • Interesting settings.
  • Foodie romance. In these books, food or cooking plays a pivotal role in the love story.
  • Forced proximity situations that lead to love. Whether it’s a historical where the heroine is blackmailing the hero or a contemporary with a hero who has a love/hate relationship with his sick child’s doctor, I love books where the characters are stuck with each other.
  • Erotic romance, menage, BDSM, etc. Turn up the heat!
  • Heroes or heroines with blue collar occupations.
  • Fantasy romance with amazing worldbuilding.
  • Professional rivalry/conflict. Got two heroes with competing restaurants or two swimmers up for the same scholarship? Send them my way!
  • My list is low on contemporary romance, and I’m looking for authors with a strong contemporary voice.

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:

    • New Adult! I’m so excited that Carina Press will now be open to submissions in this genre!
    • I’d love, love, love to find a romantic suspense or contemporary romance that’s set amongst the Amish (non-inspirational)—like Witness or Karen Harper’s romantic suspense series.
    • Psychics – Especially if you have psychic FBI agents or members of a special government agency…
    • I adore quirky characters. Nerdy/dorky heroines or heroes. Funny relatives. Etc.
    • Gritty thrillers.
    • Historical Mysteries. Especially something set in 19th century Urban America. I’ve recently started re-reading The Alienist by Caleb Carr and would love to read a story set with a similar atmosphere!
    • “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.

Angela James: If you’ve been watching this week, you’ve seen three calls I did. I’m going to acquire at least one New Adult author with an ongoing series to edit myself, I’m also avidly seeking what I’ve called “contemporary crack”, and yesterday I posted the 2013 holiday collection call, which I’ll be editing. In addition to those, I’m still interested in building some superstars in contemporary romance, something with a fresh hook and appeal, nothing old-fashioned, but a very fun, hip contemporary feel, and that has an ongoing series/trilogy potential. I’m also still interested in acquiring sports-themed romances (MMA/UFC included!) Last, I continue to look for a space opera w/a Wild West flair, fast pacing, incredible world building and fantastically drawn characters.

So, if you have anything that fits an editor request (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!

Note from the executive editor: If I can give you one tip to stand out in what we expect to be a busy submissions month, it would be to write an excellent query letter that clearly says what your book is and makes it stand out to us. We have some hints on that here on the blog. Also, f you’ve written something that fits what someone above is looking for, it really does help your submission chances to address it to them, rather than sending it generally addressed and letting me send it to who I think is best. If you can match up with one of these freelance editors, do! ~Angela

Now acquiring: 2013 holiday novellas for our four annual special collections

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Update: because I will be on vacation March 1st, and not able to read submissions during this time, I’ve extended the deadline to March 15th, 2013. ~Angela

Every year we do 3-4 holiday collections in December. Usually, these collections are by-invitation-only, with only one collection being open to submissions. For 2013, I’ve changed things up for this one year only and am opening all of our collections up to submissions and doing four collections instead of three (because I liked both themes suggested and couldn’t choose). I’m going back to by-invitation-only in 2014! This is the only open call for collections/anthologies we have planned for 2013. Please read below for information on submitting to each of the individual collections. All authors are welcome to submit to any or all of the collections, if you want to write 4 different manuscripts!

2103 Contemporary Romance collection

Carina is looking for m/f contemporary romance novellas with a winter holiday theme, to be published digitally both individually and as a collection in December 2013. The novellas should be from 18,000 to 35,000 words and feature holiday elements as integral to the contemporary novella. The stories must be m/f romance, but cannot be erotic romance (that’s a separate collection, see below). However, the stories can range from sweet to sexy, as long as they aren’t erotic. Novellas with any theme of a winter holiday (it does not need to be a Christian holiday) will be accepted.

The contemporary romance holiday collection will be edited by Angela James and  supported by a marketing and promotion campaign both online and in print. In addition,  each author chosen to contribute to the anthology will receive a set number of limited-edition print copies for their own use in giveaways and contests (or to decorate their own bookshelves).

To submit, please send your completed manuscript and synopsis, along with query letter to submissions@carinapress.com by March 1st, March, 15th 2013. In the subject line, please put Contemporary Holiday: Manuscript Title and Author

2013 Erotic Romance collection

Carina is looking for erotic romance novellas with a winter holiday theme, to be published digitally both individually and as a collection in December 2013. The novellas should be from 18,000 to 35,000 words and feature holiday elements as integral to the erotic romance novella. The stories can be of any romance subgenre (paranormal, contemporary, historical, science fiction, etc) and can be m/m, m/f or any combinations thereof. They must be erotic (in the “this novella should come with a melting panties warning label” variety).  Novellas with any theme of a winter holiday (it does not need to be a Christian holiday) will be accepted.

The erotic romance holiday collection will be edited by Angela James and  supported by a marketing and promotion campaign both online and in print. In addition,  each author chosen to contribute to the anthology will receive a set number of limited-edition print copies for their own use in giveaways and contests (or to decorate their own bookshelves).

To submit, please send your completed manuscript and synopsis, along with query letter to submissions@carinapress.com by March 1st, March, 15th 2013.. In the subject line, please put Erotic Holiday: Manuscript Title and Author

2013 themed collection: Harleys and Holidays

Carina is looking for romance novellas with a combined winter holiday and motorcycle theme (despite the name I used, it doesn’t have to be Harleys), to be published digitally both individually and as a collection in December 2013. The novellas should be from 18,000 to 35,000 words and feature holiday elements as integral to the romance novella. The stories can be of any romance subgenre though I expect many will be contemporary and none will be historical ;) and can be m/m, m/f or any combinations thereof, and can range from sweet to erotic.  Novellas with any theme of a winter holiday (it does not need to be a Christian holiday) will be accepted. How will motorcycles play a theme in your novella? Your imagination is the only limit. Motorcycle clubs doing Toys for Tots drive and romance ensuing, the town’s bad boy coming home, or a sassy heroine finding freedom on the road.

This romance holiday collection will be edited by Angela James and  supported by a marketing and promotion campaign both online and in print. In addition,  each author chosen to contribute to the anthology will receive a set number of limited-edition print copies for their own use in giveaways and contests (or to decorate their own bookshelves).

To submit, please send your completed manuscript and synopsis, along with query letter to submissions@carinapress.com by March 1st, March, 15th 2013.. In the subject line, please put Harley Holiday: Manuscript Title and Author

2013 themed collection: Military men and women, Home for the Holidays

Carina is looking for romance novellas with a combined winter holiday and military troops returning home for the holidays theme, to be published digitally both individually and as a collection in December 2013. The novellas should be from 18,000 to 35,000 words and feature holiday elements as integral to the romance novella. The stories can be of any romance subgenre (paranormal, contemporary, historical, science fiction, etc) and can be m/m, m/f or any combinations thereof, and can range from sweet to erotic.  Novellas with any theme of a winter holiday (it does not need to be a Christian holiday) will be accepted. We’re looking for holiday novellas that have a military/Navy SEAL/Air Force/etc theme, with deployed soldiers coming home and finding love, rediscovering love, etc. Any time period or military branch is welcome (including those you make up for a futuristic or sci fi!), but all should centered around coming home during the holidays.

This romance holiday collection will be edited by Angela James and  supported by a marketing and promotion campaign both online and in print. In addition,  each author chosen to contribute to the anthology will receive a set number of limited-edition print copies for their own use in giveaways and contests (or to decorate their own bookshelves).

To submit, please send your completed manuscript and synopsis, along with query letter to submissions@carinapress.com by March 1st, March, 15th 2013.. In the subject line, please put Military Holiday: Manuscript Title and Author

Further details

All submissions will be reviewed and final decision made by April 1st, April 15th 2013. Please read the updated submissions guidelines prior to submitting.

For questions about this call for submissions, please email Angela James at submissions@carinapress.com. I will be the editor on all four collections.

Please note: because these are very specific calls for submissions, and we must wait for the submissions deadline to read all submissions and before making a final decision, if you choose to submit these simultaneously somewhere else, we will not be able to give you a decision before the deadline. We prefer that you do not submit these simultaneously to other publishers, but instead wait for a response. However, we know this is not always possible, so should you choose to submit elsewhere, and receive a contract, we ask that you email us and withdraw your submission promptly from consideration, to save us time. Thank you!

*permission to forward granted*

Special thanks to freelance editor Alison Dasho for the idea of the military holiday theme and fab reader Melissa (@Mimmibklvr) for the Harleys and holidays theme!

Now acquiring: Contemporary crack at Carina Press

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It’s submissions week at Carina Press! Every day this week, we’ll have a new call for submissions. Friday will be a special opportunity, for one week only, for all authors sending submissions to Carina Press. I suggest holding your submission to send after you read the blog post that day (but that’s up to you, don’t say I didn’t warn you!) We’ve also updated our submissions guidelines, so please be sure to read the new information and guidelines before submitting.

So, yes, I’m doing a submissions call for my very own made-up genre. I think this is called letting the power of my position go to my head? But what good is power if you can’t try to acquire what you want to read?

I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary lately and I’ve noticed I’m enjoying two categories that actually share some similarities. The first is New Adult, which I posted a submissions call for yesterday, and the second is what I’ve been calling contemporary crack. What is this crack?

Story elements: High drama, high intensity, often multiple conflicts (relationship conflict and another external conflict, along w/hero and heroine internal conflicts), loving relationships between hero and heroine, sensual sex scenes, frank language. Think a bit of soap operas, with situations that can be a little over the top (except your story should have a happy ending). Series potential is good, but not necessary.

Give yourself permission to write things you might not otherwise write, just to see what happens, but even while making it over the top, wrap it in elements of believability. Make the reader feel as if you might just actually be able to meet these characters and imagine these situations, even while knowing these things will never happen.

Characters: Alpha heroes (sorry, there’s no room for beta heroes in contemporary crack), heroes are often possessive, protective and sometimes jealous over heroines, whom they clearly love. Heroes are into their heroines (this may be clear but conflict still drives them or keeps them apart).

Heroines are smart, sassy and have a backbone. They’re not afraid to talk back, care about their friends, get into trouble and protect their man as much as he protects them. No doormats allowed but we don’t want anyone bitchy either!

Characters might be a bit larger than life, sometimes it works if you have a sports figure, a billionaire (because why go for a millionaire when you can go for a billionaire ;) ), a military man, etc. But you can also have two people who seem ordinary, acting in extraordinary ways.

Other themes: These are meant to be page turners, fast paced and addictive. Let your imagination loose. Maybe you have a heroine in jeopardy (nothing brings out a hero’s protective instincts more, yeah?), a reunion story where two characters with high sexual tension meet again and finally get their happy ending, or even the unlikely couple, where opposites attract and don’t let go.

Can I give you examples? Everyone asks who I think of when I think of this type of book. Kristen Ashley, Lora Leigh, Maya Banks. Julie Garwood’s old historicals. JR Ward’s paranormals. The Harlequin Presents line has definite elements of what I’ve described (perhaps why I love them?) Feel free to share other examples of authors you think fit into what I’ve described above!

Let’s face it, I’m not entirely sure this is the type of book you can sit down to write. It may be that this is one of those things that’s just your voice and style. But I want to read more of it, and I want to publish more of it, and I figure if I don’t define it and ask for it, my chances of doing either are diminished. Plus, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone actually try to define it and ask for it so…I’m giving it a go, because I have nothing to lose, right? So if you think you can do it, or you have a manuscript that already fits, go for it! I’m totally game to read these submissions.

(Someone is bound to ask: while I do specify contemporary here, if you think you can write this book in another genre, whether it’s paranormal, historical, futuristic or otherwise…you should totally go for it because I’m in search of the next page turner in any form.)

 

Now acquiring: New Adult at Carina Press

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It’s submissions week at Carina Press! Every day this week, we’ll have a new call for submissions. Friday will be a special opportunity, for one week only, for all authors sending submissions to Carina Press. I suggest holding your submission to send after you read the blog post that day (but that’s up to you, don’t say I didn’t warn you!) We’ve also updated our submissions guidelines, so please be sure to read the new information and guidelines before submitting.

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), in 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.

Story elements should be targeted to an adult, not 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 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 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 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 though we are particularly interested in the contemporary genre, we will also consider books in other sub genres as well (such as paranormal, post apocalyptic, dystopian, etc)

Editors for this genre will be Angela James, Rhonda Helms and Mallory Braus.

For a further explanation of New Adult, please see this interview I did on the Harlequin blog: http://harlequinblog.com/2013/01/exploring-the-new-adult-genre/

Let us tell you: Notes from the Carina Press #rwa12 spotlight

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Normally on Mondays I’d have a You Tell Us question, but this week we’re doing it a bit different and offering up some information! Our roving Harlequin reporter Amy Wilkins was live tweeting the different Harlequin spotlights. Unfortunately (or fortunately for you guys!) Twitter broke and she had to create a transcript instead. I’m sharing that here, keeping in mind that I spoke for a full hour and shared a lot of information! These are some of the points Amy picked out, but if you’re interested in the full spotlight, you’ll be able to purchase it from the RWA website. I’ve also put up the slideshow on SlideShare for anyone to browse.

If you have any questions about the spotlight, the presentation or Carina Press, please feel free to ask them in the comments here, or if you’d prefer to ask privately, please email generalinquiries@carinapress.com and we’ll respond via email!

The transcript:

Due to technical difficulties (we think RWA broke Twitter ;) ), we couldn’t live tweet the Carina Press Spotlight at RWA on July 26. Instead, here’s a transcript of what we would have tweeted (plus some more we probably couldn’t have said in 140 characters, too! Silver lining J )!

 Spotted at the Carina Press spotlight: Shannon Stacey, Ruth A. Casie, editors Rhonda Helms and Mallory Braus and many more!

Carina Press executive editor Angela James has a lot of announcements, but is starting with what Carina Press (CP) is about and how it came to be.

CP is a digital-first imprint of Harlequin. Our first ebooks were published 2 years ago in June.

CP was conceived because of the opportunities for romance and other genres in the digital market. Harlequin staff work on CP because they love it & the books.

There is a lot of variety in Carina Press books and the CP team!

Currently release 2-4 books per week, plus a number of special projects like the Carina Press Editor’s Choice collections, invitation-based anthologies/collections, and a new print project (more about that later!)

Select CP books are also available in audio and print.

CP has a 5-8% acceptance rate for submissions. 8% includes returning authors and agented submissions. The 5% rate reflects unsolicited submissions (aka slush).

Royalty rate is 40% of net receipts from 3rd party retailers and 50% net receipts from CarinaPress.com sales; no advance.

CP ebooks are DRM-free.

We acquire worldwide rights and all rights because Harlequin is a global company and it does use a variety of rights (keep reading for more).

Speed to market from acquisition to release is an advantage with CP and professional covers.

CP publishes a variety of content, most adult fiction genres (just no women’s fiction, inspirational, YA or nonfiction). That includes genres WITHOUT romantic elements!

With Carina Press, authors get editorial support, marketing support, assistance and feedback on marketing plans, cross promotion on Harlequin properties and newsletters, and more. Also have meetings and workshops online and by phone with authors 3-4 times a year where we can share news and authors can ask questions.

As Harlequin authors, CP writers get online author training webinars and videos as well as meet one-on-one with digital team at Harlequin’s Digital Day at RWA on topics like social media training, website reviews, etc. Also webinars on developing author skills like self-editing.

About 30 people work on Carina Press either freelance or as part of Harlequin. Includes 14-16 freelance editors and very low turnover rate.

CP has refined strategy since first books went on sale. For example, narrowed genres CP publishes and reduced number of titles on sale each week from 4-6 to 2-3 so able to focus more attention on each book until CP could grow. We’re now ready to increase to 4 new releases a month so send in those submissions!

CP accepts all heat levels from erotic to sweet romances, plus books without any romantic elements (e.g. mystery, sci fi, fantasy). 15,000 words and up. Will also look at previously published material but particularly looking for a package of backlist titles.

CP’s top genres are: 1) Contemporary Romance 2) Paranormal romance 3) Romantic Suspense 4) Erotic Romance

Top genres in print: 1) Contemporary Romance 2) Romantic Suspense 3) Mystery à different because of Harlequin’s Direct to Consumer subscriptions, especially Mystery.

CP has 265 contracted authors, including 30% debut authors. CP is very interested in debut authors because we love their enthusiasm and we want to build their careers.

Key message from Angela: no matter who you publish with, be ready to build your career with a publisher with multiple books. It’s a lot easier to build an author with more than 1 book.

Over 2/3 of authors have multiple books contracts with CP or return for more than 1 contract.

CP books have hit the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists as well as individual retailers’ bestseller lists (e.g. Amazon and Barnes & Noble). CP/Harlequin team works with retailers for promotions.

CP helps build authors with consistent cover design for author branding. Even debut authors with 1 book get individual and group promotions (e.g. targeted ads on blogs and sites for individual authors or specific genre; 99 cent pricing promos this summer).

Now have CP books published in the UK, Italy, Germany, through Harlequin’s international offices. 70% of CP titles are sold in audio from Audible.com. Audible currently picks up about 90% of new releases each month. Other new uses for content include backlist ebook bundles (e.g. Christine d’Abo Long Shots Books 1-3 bundle of first 3 novellas) and new print opportunities.

The Future of Carina Press:

-          More targeting of specific genres. E.g. getting great attention on fantasy and fantasy romance. Will have 2 weeks of fantasy in February 2013.

-          More special projects like themed collections and continuities.

-          Scheduling more connected editorial from individual authors strategically. CP may hold back releasing the first book in a series so can release a book every 6 months or so for a bigger marketing push and suit the authors’ schedule. CP currently has 20-25 series on the go.

-          Updated submissions guidelines coming soon!

-          Increasing CP marketing support, such as more digital sampling, and even more use of print and foreign rights. Print on Demand is coming (no start date yet) and Harlequin is printing a trade-format anthology of erotic romance novellas by Delphine Dryden, Christine d’Abo and Jodie Griffin in November called The Theory of Attraction. It will be the first print book sold under the Carina Press imprint!

Authors can expect honesty, commitment and insight into the publishing process from CP.

Audience got to vote on the cover for 2 future releases: Lynda Aicher’s first book, an erotic romance called Bonds of Trust. Also voted on the cover for Susanna Frasers’s An Infamous Marriage.

Question from the audience: How do you feel about self-published authors submitting to Carina Press?

Answer from Angela: CP is happy to look at submissions from previously self-pub’d authors but do prefer to see new content (but will always look at it!).

Angela’s personal call for submissions (more here: http://carinapress.com/blog/2011/12/submissions-call-from-angela-james-something-i-rarely-do-anymore/ )—she’s looking for: sports-themed romance, “space westerns” in the vein of Firefly, novel-length (i.e. 70k words or longer) erotic romance, novel-length paranormal romance with a fresh twist. Also looking for new opportunities for serialization.

For info on what other Carina Press editors are looking for, check their bios on the CP Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/CarinaPress) or the Carina Press blog at CarinaPress.com (here: http://carinapress.com/blog/2011/10/carina-press-call-for-submissions/).

Submissions call from Angela James (something I rarely do anymore!)

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So Carina Press keeps me pretty busy on the admin (and travel, omg, the travel!) side of things and it doesn’t leave me a lot of time for editing. I still do some editing, but it’s generally not much more than one or two novels a year, and then the holiday novella collections. I almost never acquire from slush anymore but…

I’m looking to acquire a few things for my own schedule for Fall 2012.

Here’s what I’m specifically looking for:

A contemporary romance trilogy or series. I love editing Shannon Stacey’s books and I want to edit more contemporary romance, so I’m looking to acquire an author who has a contemporary romance trilogy or series planned. Any heat level considered! I’m specifically looking for contemporary romance novels (over 70k) but will consider a novella series (for novellas, even better if they’re erotic, but not necessary)

A new paranormal romance (or urban fantasy w/romantic elements) series. The good news for you is that I’ll consider all manner of paranormal, including vampires, shifters, etc. I’m not wore out on paranormal, so hit me with your A-game, even if it’s a vampire series! Again, any heat level considered.

A very, very hot erotic romance series. Smokin’ hot. Any subgenre, any length. Can be BDSM or m/m. Just looking for smokin’ hot erotic romance (not erotica, please).

So the trend here is that I’m looking for an author/authors I can build within a series in these particular genres. I’m not looking for standalone novels or novellas for this particular submissions call for myself (though Carina Press is always willing to and does acquire standalones).

If you have something now, or in the coming weeks/months that fits the bill, please follow the submissions guidelines here, and send to the submissions address. However, please note in the body of your query letter that you’re responding to my specific call for submissions (many subs come in addressed to me, so I won’t know, just based on that, that you’re responding to this call).

Edit: I’ve had some questions about subbing an idea or partial. Carina Press submission guidelines require a full manuscript and so do I, unless we’ve worked together before, or you have an established history of publishing quality work, and you have an established author brand, in which case, I’d consider a proposal/partial w/thorough synopsis.

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!

Changes to Carina Press

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As every business grows, they also change and evolve to better suit their market. Carina Press is no different.

As of today, Carina Press will no longer be accepting submissions in the following genres: women’s fiction, family saga, and literary fiction. This is in addition to the fiction genres we already currently do not accept: inspirational fiction, young adult and children’s books. And, of course, we do not publish any non-fiction or poetry.

We’ll continue to accept, publish, market and grow other adult fiction genres, including the subgenres and niches within romance, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, horror.

We do not require manuscripts that are submitted have romantic elements. We’ll continue to publish non-romance 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 or erotica comprises only approximately 10% of what we publish.

The submissions guidelines have been updated to reflect the changes in the genres we’re no longer publishing. Authors with a pending submission in these genres will receive emails, and the submission will not be read. I apologize to anyone who’s waited on a response for a manuscript in this genre.

Why Does the Heroine have No Friends?

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I was originally going to write a post about secondary characters and how they can add so much to a story when I realized what I really wanted to ask, especially when I read slush: “Why does the heroine have no friends?”

Memorable secondary characters can affect a book. The people who immediately popped into my head were  Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice, Sir Fotherby Nugent  in Sylvester and all of Bridget Jones’s friends. I realized I really wanted to write about how a writer can and should create a full and complete world for her  hero and heroine by including specific, unique, memorable secondary characters.

So often I read a romance novel, or a mystery or a sci fi adventure, where the heroine’s world seems to revolve around her career and that’s it. A token friend or two is mentioned, but once the hero and heroine meet – especially in a category romance – they seem to live in a bubble. Don’t they have any friends? Don’t they go out for coffee (think of the endless brunch scenes in Sex and the City), take lessons or belong to a book club?  If they are incapable of maintaining a friendship why should the reader believe they can maintain a romantic relationship?

Some writers have clued in but only deliver in the most simplistic manner. A token friend arrives on scene to help move the plot forward. Yes, that’s helpful but oh-so-predictable. Couldn’t these friends be memorable? I loved Bridget’s super successful banker friend who spent hours on her mobile in the loo talking about her boyfriend; the male friend who was living off the residuals of his one-hit wonder (I am thinking the movie version here). These characters are only in short scenes but her friends help both make the book and Bridget. I would not have liked Bridget  nearly as much or believed Darcy could fall in love with her unless I thought she was a good friend.

Bridget’s friends

Think of Mr. Collins. He’s pompous, insecure, pious, critical, a social-climber and he has a thing about closets! He sets plot points in motion: his proposal to Elizabeth; his subsequent marriage to Charlotte; Elizabeth’s visit with the married Collinses.  Elizabeth’s reactions to him and to his marriage to Charlotte show differing characters beliefs (or hopes) about the roles of true love and marriage. Charlotte states she cannot afford to believe in love. Elizabeth, no matter the costs, does.     

                                                                       

Mr. Collins, always greatful to his patroness Lady Catherine de Bourgh

Many of the secondary characters in Georgette Heyer’s novels are just plain funny. If you haven’t met Sir Fotherby Nugent and his tassled boots in Sylvester rush out and get your copy now and start reading. (It’s one of my personal favorites.)

So if you want to make your story really come to life, if you are looking for original and creative ways to express your ideas, don’t forget your secondary characters!

“Polished” Hessians — very important to Sir Nugent!