The Acquisition Process


Since we announced the opening of Carina, we’ve seen both direct queries and indirect speculation about how the Carina acquisition process will work and just what kind of manuscripts we’ll accept. There seems to be some concern that we’ll be accepting and publishing everything that’s thrown at us, so I thought I’d share with you how our acquisitions process will work.

When a submission comes in, we have nine people on the “preliminary” submissions team, who go through the inbox, read submissions and mark which of those should be passed on to editorial staff for a more complete read. (The submissions team consists of editors and online commerce people.) If one of those nine people reads the submission and finds it not to their taste, but believes it might have merit, it’s marked for a second review to determine if it goes to the editorial staff. The best part of having so many people reading submissions at this point is that we all have very diverse reading tastes, so there’s a reader for every genre showing up in our inbox! Books not passing this first stage will receive rejection letters.

Once the book is moved on to the Carina Press editorial staff, they read as much or as little of it as they need to determine one of three outcomes: acceptance, rejection or revisions requested prior to resubmission of the manuscript (revise and resubmit). A book being recommended for acceptance is sent back to the submissions team with an explanation of merit, editorial notes, market appeal, etc and the book, plus the notes, is reviewed either by me or one other on the submissions team. After review, it’s presented at our weekly acquisitions meeting for final approval before moving on to the contract stage.

At this early point in the Carina development, I’ll have my busy hands in every stage of a book’s submissions process, whether it’s acceptance, rejection, or revisions requested, so no book will get a response without two looks by our staff, one of them me, to ensure not just that we’re contracting the best books possible, but also that no hidden treasures get passed up!

I hope the more in depth look at what is, I think, a pretty detailed, multi-layered process, will help answer any questions about what our plans are for Carina as far as quality goes. Plus, I think if any of you know me, or my reputation, I’m pretty fierce about showing just how good digital publishing can be. But maybe I shouldn’t be convincing you. I should be going for the undersell, right?

As a small aside, some of you have been curious about how many submissions we’ve gotten in the week and a half since we’ve opened so I’ll share that info here, now that I’ve finally gotten the spreadsheet done and the info inputted: 300. We’ve had 300 submissions in ten days. Keep them coming!

24 thoughts on “The Acquisition Process”

  1. Lesley says:

    That tiered submission process sounds like a really great way to get things moved through more quickly. Thanks for explaining!

  2. Dakota Flint says:

    So you already have hired a team of editors? Can I ask how a book/author is assigned to an editor after acceptance and contracting?

  3. Angela James says:

    Dakota, I replied to your comment directly from the dashboard and now I’m totally puzzled as to where the reply went. Did it email it to you?

  4. This is very exciting, and thank you for keeping us so well informed. How soon will authors be notified. Will it be the eight to ten weeks as stated in your submission guidelines?

  5. Angela James says:

    Donna, that’s still my hope. But 2 weeks of that is already gone. Eek!

  6. Dakota Flint says:

    Angela, no I didn’t get an e-mail reply. I hate when the internet swallows things! *g*

  7. Angela James says:

    Well, that will teach me to try and do something the easy way. Technology has certainly not been my friend today so, my apologies if the blog suddenly posts another response at some point!

    The answer is no, no editors (except me) have been hired but that’s my project for the next two weeks. One that shouldn’t, I don’t think, take too long as we’re going to start with people whose work we’re familiar with first and then add from there.

    Authors will be assigned to editors based on genre preference. No author will be assigned to someone who doesn’t love their genre, exactly as I’ve done it in years previous. And authors will be able to maintain the same editor, whenever possible, as long as the editorial fit is good.

  8. Terri says:

    Angela — I so hope that means some web-frame doo-dad or other and not the dashboard of your car.

    — Terri (foolishly exhibiting my inner troglodyte on this blog!)

    1. Angela James says:

      Ha, no, Dashboard is the main control area of WordPress (the blog). And this is funny, but the blog sent those comments I “lost” to spam!

  9. Dakota Flint says:

    Angela, will you have your own stable of authors? What are the chances of an author working with you?

    (I’m not sure if that’s an okay question to ask, but I’ve been wondering and so I’m going with the saying that no question is a stupid question.)

    1. Angela James says:

      No, it’s fine to ask. Definitely flattering!

      How much or little I will edit is still up in the air. My primary responsibility is going to be administrative, so it will all depend on how much extra time *cough cough* I have on my hands. I love editing and I don’t want to give it up, so I will be doing some, but not as much as I have been previously. Since I’ll be reading the submissions, if something catches my eye, I’ll grab it for editing, and I’ll certainly look at authors who are interested in working with me, but I must be honest and say it will be probably no more than two books a month and that may be generous. But again, I love editing, love working with authors, so I’m going to keep my hand in somehow!

  10. Since my daughter teaches first grade, I’ll try this: Pick me, pick me!!! LOL

  11. Hummm, do you ever have days where you wished you’d just kept quiet? Well, today is my day. I’ll wait patiently just like all the other authors. :}

  12. A. Cooper says:

    Hi, Angela.

    I was wondering how quickly rejections are sent for books who don’t pass the 1st tier? A week? A month? Or is it the same time frame, 8-10 weeks?

    Also, is an author notified if his/her books reach the second tier?

  13. Angela James says:

    Heheh, Donna, I thought it was funny!

    A. Cooper, once we get our process totally streamlined, I’m going to be sending rejections once every 2 weeks or so, but you should hear on a rejection in no more than 8-10 weeks. If your book is going to take longer because an editor is reading it, I will try to let you know. However, once that 10 week mark has passed, no author should ever be shy about contacting us for an update!

  14. Sharyn says:

    A very interesting look into what often seems a strange and alchemical process. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Tabitha says:

    I was wondering if Carina Press will have a place for Christian/Biblical fiction, as well. I have several ideas floating around in my head that have never been put to paper (or computer screen) because they don’t really fit anywhere either. Thanks!

  16. Hi Angela
    This sounds like a very interesting and exciting new venture, and I look forward to submitting something soon!

  17. Terri says:

    I’m curious as to how the debacle with Harlequin is going to affect Carina Press? Will you be able to separate your line from Hqn in order to become RWA recognized or is that not a priority?

    Thank you.

  18. Terri says:

    OMG. Someone stole my name!

    — Terri

    PS: Not like I wasn’t also sort of wondering about that, though. I guess I just figured that since Carina Press is still OWNED by Harlequin, even if it is as a separate division, it’s still part of the whole megillah.

    At least for now.

    — Terri (Keeping my original name. At least for now.)

  19. Tara says:

    I realize your current position on Young Adult is a pass, but why is this, and do you think it will change in the next year or so?

    1. Angela James says:

      The why is a combination of things, but first is that successfully selling to teens includes marketing that can be much different than marketing to adults. It would split our focus too much to try and do it all at once, and that wouldn’t be fair for anyone involved.

      My answer to every “do you think you’ll…” question is the same: anything is possible!

  20. Tracy Stiles says:

    LOVED the very clear and detailed instructions for submissions! And I must say… thank you for writing to those of us interested in submitting like you truly are interested in what we have to send as opposed to just another aspiring author sending yet another submission that’ll hit the queue and get read sometime this year…. or not.
    Respect to the aspiring author: What a brain burner! I love you guys already.
    Preparing my submission.

  21. Maria Flint says:

    Hi Angela

    Can you recommend the best way to start building a platform. I am very ‘green’ when it comes to social media. Thank you.

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