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:

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 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 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 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: )—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 ( or the Carina Press blog at (here:

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!

The holiday steampunk collection announced!

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I was reminded that I didn’t announce the authors and their novellas that were selected to be in our 2011 steampunk holiday collection, releasing December 2011. The call for submission, which went out this spring, was the only such themed call we’ve done to date. It’s been asked if we plan to do more, and right now the answer is probably not more than once a year. For now, we’ll keep the majority of the collections/anthologies we do by-invitation-only, with the possible exception of one a year.

The steampunk holiday call was highly successful for us. Not only did we acquire four novellas for the holiday collection, but we also acquired five others, for release in 2012, and sent out revise and resubmits for an additional three! The calibre of the submissions, as you might tell from just those numbers, was outstanding and incredible. Thank you to everyone who submitted!

With that said, I offer my congratulations to these for authors, who will appear in the 2011 steampunk holiday collection, and will have their novellas release both separately and as a bundle. We welcome two new-to-Carina authors, and two returning Carina authors.

Far From Broken by J.K. Coi

Untitled steampunk novella (set in Australia!) by Jenny Schwartz

Untitled steampunk novella by Stacy Gail

This Winter Heart by PG Forte

As a point of interest, our other two holiday collections, which were by-invitation-only will include:

Josh Lanyon, K.A. Mitchell, Harper Fox and Ava March in a collection of m/m romance tales.

Jaci Burton, Alison Kent, HelenKay Dimon and Shannon Stacey in a contemporary romance collection.

You can purchase all three of these collections, or the individual novellas, on December 5, 2011!

Celebrate steampunk…

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In celebration of our steampunk week at Carina Press, the awesome Jayne Hoogenberk worked with a video production specialist to create this short video highlighting our entire steampunk backlist. I’d be remiss if I didn’t post it here on the blog, in case you haven’t had a chance to see it yet!

And as a reminder, don’t forget our call for steampunk holiday novella submissions here. The call closes May 15th!

Carina Press Steampunk

Things we don’t reject books for…

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Every so often, I get either a panicked email from someone who’s submitted and are convinced their manuscript is going to be rejected for forgetting some basic information in some part of their submission, or I’ll receive a reply to a standard rejection, with the person informing me they know we must have rejected their book for XYZ reason. So I thought it would be helpful if we had a blog post highlighting some of the reasons we at Carina Press do not reject manuscripts.

1. We don’t reject manuscripts because they’re not romance.

Yes, we publish romance. But we also publish non-romance. We don’t reject a book because it didn’t have romance (or as one author said, because it wasn’t a “bodice ripper”), or because it does. We’re interested in adult genre fiction, both romance and non-romance, and a quick browse through our catalog will show you we publish both.

2. We don’t reject manuscripts because they’re not…trashy, sweet, sexy, innocent enough.

Along the same lines as #1. We’re not rejecting manuscripts left and right over here because there’s not enough sex or because there’s too much sex. We don’t have a secret sex-meter set up that uses a complex algorithm to calculate whether there’s enough sex and dings when the book hits that just-right stage. Write the heat level that fits your work. If that means there’s no sex because it’s not a romance or because it’s a sweet romance, fine by us.

3. We don’t reject manuscripts because you forgot to put your word count, genre, pen name, or some other basic information.

Trust me, this happens…all the time. If we rejected everyone based on just this, we’d only have about 10% of submissions left to look at. So take a deep breath, don’t panic, and let us evaluate your story, rather than your ability to follow directions.

4. Which leads me to…we don’t reject manuscripts because you didn’t follow directions for submitting.

But we will ask you to resubmit. We don’t look at incomplete submissions, but we don’t send a rejection either.

5. We don’t reject manuscripts because we don’t like the author (or because someone else has told us they don’t like the author).

I’m not sure I should even say this, someone out there is going to get paranoid, but it’s important to us that we like your manuscript, not necessarily that we like the author. We can read the internet as well as the next person. We know you can be abrasive, irritate your fellow authors, say unkind things and generally be a bit of a pill. If your book is good, we’re willing to overlook all that. (Caveat: this is different than someone who’s publicly made a general ass out of themselves and/or acted incredibly unprofessionally with us or with others. Yeah, we might reject a manuscript for that)

6. We don’t reject a manuscript because it falls in too many genres.

Look, we published a m/m paranormal erotic menage romance w/thriller elements. If you’ve written a good book, we’ll find a spot for it.

7. We don’t reject a manuscript because it falls in too “niche” a genre or isn’t a genre that seems hot right now or because it’s in an unusual time, place or setting.

See #6. If you’ve written a good book, we’ll find a spot for it.

8. We don’t reject a manuscript because it has a terrible title, we hate the character names or your pseudonym.

But if we acquire it, we might ask you to change those things!

9. We don’t reject a manuscript just because your previous book at another publisher didn’t do so well with readers, reviewers and sales.

But we’re going to be looking at all of the elements to see if we can figure out why that happened.

10. We don’t reject a manuscript because the characters are physically imperfect or have a handicap, aren’t beautiful or glamorous, or don’t fit some character stereotype. Or because of their background or profession.

I present Shall We Drown in Feathered Sleep by Michael Merriam as Exhibit A

11. We don’t reject a manuscript because the author doesn’t have a blog, participate in Twitter, Facebook or the social media of the month.

But if we acquire the manuscript, we will be asking you about marketing and promotion plans, and encouraging an updated, simple website.

12. We don’t reject a manuscript because of a few typos, or because the author doesn’t have a thorough grasp of grammar.

We do want a submission that’s been self edited, and maybe been looked at by a critique partner or beta reader. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Just not sloppy and disrespectful in its un-edited state. And we will look for signs of learning via the editing process in future manuscripts. If you keep submitting manuscripts with the same errors always pointed out, we’ll have to talk.

13. We don’t reject a manuscript because a Harlequin imprint has rejected it.

Being rejected by a Harlequin imprint doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not “good enough”, it can simply mean it doesn’t fit that line’s guidelines and requirements. Harlequin editors have actually recommended authors send to us instead. So a rejection from a Harlequin imprint doesn’t mean a rejection from Carina.

14. We don’t reject a manuscript because it’s got bad formatting, the wrong font style or size, or is the wrong format.

If it’s the wrong format, I’ll simply ask you to resubmit. If the formatting is wonky, well, we can fix that. And font size/type is easy to change for our reading pleasure. Do we want you to use a standard format and font? Yes, please, don’t get creative. Not only is it hard on our eyes and does take a few extra minutes to change, but creative formatting can make a file too large, which makes it unwieldy to move around from email to device and back again.

15. We don’t reject a manuscript because you used first, third, second or omniscient POV.

We’ll read and publish books in any POV, as long as it’s a good book and it suits the story.

16. We don’t reject a book because you didn’t write a good synopsis

Now, with this one, I must admit that it can make it harder to acquire the book, but it doesn’t make it an automatic rejection. Harder to acquire because sometimes the acquisition team looks to the synopsis for answers during the acquisition process. Also, we use the synopsis post acquisition for marketing, cover art and cover copy, so a good synopsis does matter. But we don’t reject a manuscript based on the synopsis.

17. We don’t reject a manuscript because the editor doesn’t like the genre.

We make every effort to match manuscripts to editors, and if an editor gets a manuscript in a genre that doesn’t suit her but she sees the merit of the writing, she asks to pass it on. We have several authors who now work with two editors at Carina Press, because one editor works on one genre with them, and the other editor works on the other. Sometimes, it is about getting in front of the right editor, and we recognize that.

18. We don’t reject a manuscript because we’ve rejected one of your manuscripts before.

You might not hit on the first manuscript, or even the second or third. But we’ll keep reading your submissions as long as you keep writing them, and we might find that perfect fit for us eventually.

19. We don’t reject a manuscript because you didn’t address us by name in the query letter (or addressed us by the wrong name).

It’s hard to know how to address a query letter, when you’re not sending to a specific person. We know and we look past that. I’ve had people call me by the wrong name (ie: hello, Samantha, remember when we met at XYZ conference and we talked about your daughter?) and while it makes me laugh (and groan) it’s not cause for rejection. Do pay attention to details, but don’t stress if you realize you’ve gotten it wrong.

If you’re wondering why we do reject manuscripts, you can read one of my older posts here. At the heart of it is that we’re really quite interested in a good story. Now, will we get aggravated if you don’t follow submission guidelines and you do some of the things mentioned? You bet we will. And aggravation is not always the best frame of mind you want in an editor. But none of these things will cause us to reject a manuscript. Of course, if you combine a whole bunch of these into one submission package, like the errors, bad formatting, wrong name, terrible synopsis, we might wonder just how well you’d do when it comes time to edit–attention to detail is crucial at that stage.

At the end of the day, here’s what we ask: Write a good story. Write your very best story. Edit it. Edit again. Ask someone else to look at it. Let it sit for a few weeks, before you hit send. Look at it again. Read our submissions guidelines. Follow them. Write an informative query letter. Send your submission. And then give us time to read it and don’t follow-up until our timeframe is up or until you need to tell us someone else has offered for it and we have two weeks to give you our decision. All the while you’re waiting, be writing your next story. Your very best story. Because writing your very best story is how you don’t get rejected.

Steampunk Holiday Submissions Call

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Carina Press is pleased to announce a call for submissions for our 2011 holiday collections. This will be the only open collection call for 2011 and is an excellent opportunity for authors interested in participating in the normally by-invitation-only Carina Press collections.

Carina is looking for steampunk novellas with a winter or winter holiday theme, to be published digitally both individually and as a collection in December 2011. The novellas should be from 18,000 to 35,000 words and feature steampunk elements as integral to the novella. The stories do not need to be romance, or even have romance elements, but can be straight steampunk, or steampunk with romantic elements, and can also feature elements of mystery, thriller, horror or other sub-genres. Additionally, there is no set heat level for these stories, so they can have no sex, or be ultra-sexy, or anything in between.

Essentially, we’re looking for interesting, creative, well-written stories within the steampunk niche that will appeal to readers’ imaginations and add to our growing catalog of steampunk stories.

The steampunk holiday collection will be supported by a marketing and promotion campaign both online and in print. In addition, though the collection won’t currently be offered for sale in print format, each author chosen to contribute to the anthology will receive a set number of limited edition print copies for their own use.

To submit, please send your completed manuscript and synopsis, along with query letter to by May 15th, 2011. In the subject line, please put Steampunk Holiday: Manuscript Title and Author

All submissions will be reviewed and final decision made by June 15th, 2011.

For questions about this call for submissions, please email Angela James at

For more information about Carina Press, and to read the submission guidelines, please visit

*permission to forward granted*