What the Carina Press Editors Want–Updated Spring 2016 Edition


We previously published this post in March but since we added four new acquiring editors to our team in May, we decided to publish an updated version with their submission requests! These editors are reading submissions and ready to acquire and get books on the schedule!

We continue to acquire projects in all subgenres and heat levels of romance, as well as mystery. However, for publication in 2016 and 2017, Carina Press is particularly interested in:

  • Paranormals (and urban fantasy): We know other publishers are saying no to paranormals but we are interested in acquiring and publishing them! While we’ll consider manuscripts across the genre, here are some things that currently appeal to us in particular: Great sexual tension, super sexy paranormals, male/male protaganists, series featuring shifters (wolves, cats, dragons…we draw the line at hamsters), ongoing series or trilogies, unique twist on old paranormal tropes and elements, band of brother/alpha heroes, paranormal with suspense elements, and stories that delve into clan politics.
  • Male/male romance: Though we acquire across LGBTQ, we have the most success with male/male and are most interested in acquiring within that subgenre. Right now we’re especially interested in paranormal, sexy contemporary/erotic, stepbrother romance, romances that tackle unlikely pairings or more “taboo” subjects, suspense/mystery, and scifi/fantasy series. Additionally, if you’re writing male/male that fits any of our other specific interests below, we want to see it.
  • Sexy sci fi romance: We’re looking for the fun, the unusual, the sexy, the silly, and even the over-the-top. Maybe the hero or heroine is an alien—a true alien, maybe it’s set on different worlds, has a Firefly-esque space opera feel, is a caper or heist set in space, or features space pirates or space cowboys. Bring it on!
  • We’re always looking to build erotic romance on our list and we’re looking for someone who can write a series or trilogy that’s extremely erotic (maybe even filthy ;) ). We’d love to see ménage or more, BDSM that’s not set in a club, darker erotic romance and there’s that word taboo again, so see more about that at the bottom of this post.
  • Something we don’t see nearly enough of, ever, and are eager to acquire is capers, heists, jewel thieves, etc. Books, characters and setups that are sexy and possibly cross-genre. You could have an anti-hero (or heroine), or maybe hero/heroine are on opposite sides, or maybe they’re both thieves, thrown together or moving from friends to lovers. Maybe your caper or heist has a fun vibe, or it could be humorous. Give us fast-paced adventure and a fun duo facing off or teaming up!
  • We also want your cowboys and contemporary westerns. We’re looking for cowboys to add to our list! There are so many possibilities here, give it a unique twist, make it a foreign locale. Or it can be high tension, high stakes American-set contemporary cowboy romance.

This is not a “current” call, but a reminder: we are always open to diverse protagonists, and have been since we opened years ago. That’s not changed, we’re still open to diversity across race, walks of life, physical challenges, ethnicity, and more. Diversity is wide ranging and we’ve always welcomed that in our submissions and our publications.  Here are only a few examples of what we’ve published over the years.

Deep Deception by Cathy Pegau
Rivals for Love by Eve Vaughn
The Devils Garden by Jane Kindred
One Real Thing by Anah Crow and Dianne Fox
The Companion Contract by Solace Ames
At the Brink by Anna del Mar
Radio Silence by Alyssa Cole
Matzoh and Mistletoe by Jodie Griffin
Hidden Impact by Piper J. Drake
Hero’s Homecoming by Rebecca Crowley

See here for more thoughts from Angela on diversity from this post.

Angela James, Editorial Director, and Kerri Buckley, Senior Editor, generated the above imprint-wide list, and welcome all queries related to the projects above.

Angela is also looking for someone to write a fun, Cannonball Run/Rat Race-type fun adventure romance. Additionally, she continues to look for “contemporary crack” and would also love to see a few projects from the above list with characters who are in their late 30s/40s, dealing with different life issues than those in their 20s do. Not women’s fiction, “love stories” or “death” fiction where the characters die instead of get an HEA, she’s still looking for fast-paced and compelling, just with older characters.

In addition to the above imprint specific list, Kerri is also looking for romantic suspense (sexy) or mysteries (not necessarily sexy) with elements of psychological or emotional manipulation, contemporary romances where the HEA results in big, messy, blended families, stories told entirely in the male POV (all genres), and a cozy or amateur sleuth series set outside the U.S.

Our freelance editors are looking for the following, in addition to what’s listed in the imprint-wide selection above: 

Alissa Davis:

  • Erotic romance with strong dialogue and scorching sexual tension—bonus points for heroes and heroines who rock at talking dirty. I like very alpha heroes who might push boundaries and heroines who will stand up to them.
  • M/m in any subgenre and heat level, with conflict not necessarily centered around one character being closeted and the other being out. I’d also love to see m/m forced proximity romances, such as two lawyers who are both up for partner at the same firm, or two college students who keep getting paired up in their art class even though they can’t stand each other.
  • Sexy, edgy contemporary romance. I’d love to see friends-to-lovers romance featuring roommates, servicemen, coworkers, or teammates.
  • Military romance, m/m or m/f. The hero or heroine can be active military or retired.
  • Romantic suspense with a political twist. I’d love to see heroes and heroines who either have dubious morals or work for people who do, with political tension and high stakes along the lines of House of Cards.

Deborah Nemeth:

I’m looking for manuscripts with high stakes and larger-than-life characters. Here are some specific stories I’d love to see:

  • Romantic comedy that sparkles with snappy banter, especially enemies to lovers, secret agenda, fake engagement, and arranged marriage stories
  • Mysteries with clever sleuths and cleverer twists, especially cozies and PIs
  • Historical romances, including witty Regency romps, erotic Victorians, dark Tudor intrigue and Viking warriors
  • Romantic suspense with a high action quotient and lethally competent heroines
  • Edgy urban-set contemporary romances with alpha heroes who fall hard
  • Con artist protagonists who execute deviously elaborate scams
  • A Bollywood-themed romance or mystery

Rhonda Stapleton:

  • Laugh-out-loud romantic comedies, LGBTQ romantic comedy
  • Mysteries, especially cozy (series please! romance not required, but a romantic subplot is great)
  • An historical erotic romance novel featuring PoC
  • Military erotic romances (series are great!)
  • A dark, atmospheric, sexy gothic romance–contemporary or historical

Lauren Plude:

  • Scottish Historicals: ALL HIGHLANDERS WELCOME. To say I’m craving an epic, passionate HEA for a fierce highlander is the understatement of the 14th century.
  • Bring on the erotic romance taboos – specifically older woman and younger man, step/foster siblings, ménage (M/F/M). BDSM. Historical erotica is also very welcome. Two thumbs up for heroines unafraid to ask for what they want in the bedroom.
  • I want my electrical bill to skyrocket because I’m sleeping with the lights on. I’m looking for dark psychological romantic thrillers (Think Criminal Minds). I’ve got a weakness for FBI agents and complex plotting.
  • Billionaires, bad boys (Bikers, rockers, etc.), romantic comedy (Think a modern Beatrice and Benedict story), Cinderella stories (and other fairytale retellings), multicultural romances, and I’d love to see some jet-setting/exotic destination settings.Special Call for LAW ENFORCEMENT/MILITARY HEROES: Police, FBI, US Marshalls, DEA, Firefighters, Search & Rescue, and Navy SEALS.

Mackenzie Walton:

  • LGBTQ historical, especially m/m! Dukes, duchesses, and ballrooms are fantastic, but I’d also be interested in seeing more unusual settings and scenarios.
  • Contemporaries, especially featuring those daydream/fantasy boyfriends—movie stars, musicians, athletes, and the like.
  • Fantasy elements in contemporaries/historicals—think less Lord of the Rings, more Practical Magic. More along the lines of magical realism.
  • Moody, thoughtful paranormals. I love characters who really contemplate what it means to be a paranormal creature in the mundane world.
  • Virgin heroes, across the board. Can’t get enough of them.

Anne Scott:

  • I adore great sexual tension in any genre. My other catnip is competence in heroes and heroines—be it excelling at their jobs, outmaneuvering the bad guys, or creating a magical solution during that black moment. That said, I enjoy quieter couple-focused stories as well.
  • Bourne- or Nikita-type romantic suspense, especially if set in unusual locales with diverse characters. Bonus points for laidback or deceptively laidback heroes who are highly competent when the going gets rough, and do not get in the way of the heroine if she’s the one saving the day!
  • Mysteries, where I’d welcome a very slow burn between two sleuths over a series of books.
  • Cowboys and horses. I love it when the reality of the hard work of being a cowboy is brought to the story.

Penny Barber:

  • I’m excited about all genres of romance, and am especially happy when they include surprising elements. The deeper the pov, the better, because characters readers can imagine being and worlds they can explore with the characters are at the top of my compelling reads list.
  • Manuscripts with diverse casts that reflect the world we live in. No big deals made about skin color or orientation, just natural integration. That isn’t to say that conflict can’t come from their differences, but the general attitude should be people are people.
  • People who’ve explored, followed their dreams, and built solo lives before their One sashays in and turns their ordered existence on its side.
  • Geeks, especially. A hacker turned law enforcement whiz like Penelope from Criminal Minds, whose after-hours life is as intriguing and colorful as the world she deals with at work.
  • Women with strong maternal ties, who benefit from wisdom passed through generations, laced with something like magic mythology or Native American tradition and folklore.
  • Erotic romance featuring couples who don’t lose their voices when they lose their laundry. People unapologetic about their needs and sexuality.
  • Tropes turned upside down, such as a successful and powerful woman who “rescues” a struggling man. A successful and powerful man at the mercy of a confident, dominant woman. A woman racecar driver with hordes of scantily clad men throwing themselves at her.
  • Bad guys who are as fleshed out and motivated as the main characters.
  • A m/m detective duo, with complimentary skill sets, like Holmes and Watson, and romantic tension to shake things up.
  • A contemporary or fantasy series featuring a rebellious band, like a motorcycle gang, but with a twist, like maybe they ride spacecraft and act like Robin Hood.

Here’s a handy, quick-view chart that gives you a look at which editors are acquiring in specific genres: 

Genre Editors actively acquiring in genre Not acquiring in genre
Erotic romance Angela, Kerri, Stephanie, Rhonda, Alissa, Deb, Lauren, Mackenzie, Penny Anne
LGBTQ Angela, Kerri,Stephanie, Rhonda, Alissa, Deb, Mackenzie, Penny, Anne, Lauren
Contemporary romance Angela, Kerri, Stephanie, Rhonda, Alissa, Deb, Mackenzie, Penny, Anne, Lauren
Paranormal romance Angela, Kerri, Rhonda, Stephanie, Alissa, Deb, Penny, Anne, Lauren, Mackenzie, Lauren
Urban fantasy Angela, Stephanie, Deb, Penny, Mackenzie, Anne, Lauren Kerri, Rhonda, Alissa
Fantasy romance Angela, Alissa, Deb, Penny, Anne, Lauren Kerri, Rhonda, Mackenzie, Stephanie
Science fiction romance Angela, Rhonda, Deb, Penny, Anne Kerri, Alissa, Mackenzie, Stephanie, Lauren
Romantic suspense Angela, Kerri, Stephanie, Rhonda, Alissa, Deb, Penny, Anne, Lauren Mackenzie
Historical romance Kerri, Rhonda, Alissa, Deb, Mackenzie, Penny, Anne, Lauren Angela, Stephanie
Mystery Kerri, Rhonda, Deb, Mackenzie, Penny, Anne, Lauren Angela, Alissa, Stephanie


For further information on our request for taboo, think along the lines of…

  • Dark, erotic thrillers and psychological thrillers
  • Stories of adultery and betrayal
  • Characters with unusual sexual kinks
  • Conflicts involving socially unacceptable pairings.

Examples include: Older woman/younger man & vice versa; step-sibling romance; prison guard and prisoner; student/teacher; mental health professional/patient.

  • Anti-heroes and anti-heroines. Real, unredeemable bad boys and bad girls
  • Tales of forced seduction and capture fantasies
  • Stories taking place in unlikely locations (such as prisons and mental health hospitals).

You’re probably wondering what types of things we’ve liked in the past, so here are some examples of books and even a movie example to get your brain firing.

  • The Dark Duet by CJ Roberts
  • Twist Me and Keep Me by Anna Zaires
  • Last Hit by Jen Frederick and Jessica Clare
  • Prisoner by Annika Martin and Sky Warren
  • The Last Hour of Gann by R. Lee Smith
  • Landslide by NJ Cole
  • Marly’s Choice by Lora Leigh
  • In other media: the work of adult video directors Zalman King (Red Shoe Diaries and 9 ½ Weeks) and Jackie St. James (The Submission of Emma Marx) are good examples on the erotic, dark & edgy side.

Other movies:

  • Silence of the Lambs
  • Fatal Attraction
  • Basic Instinct & Sliver
  • Memento

15 thoughts on “What the Carina Press Editors Want–Updated Spring 2016 Edition”

  1. Viv Black says:

    Ameh. Carina Press. I would like to see more strong female leads. Less of the wimpy, vulnerable, “I need a man to save me” type. Strong smart women so that when my daughter is old enough I can pass her the books. Same as I am saving Ilon Andrews, Tanya Huff and Kim Harrison for her.
    They have male here’s that are equal to their strong female leads.

  2. Kimber Li says:

    I think we need both kinds of women and every kind in between, and the men too, because everyone needs to be rescued once in a while and the healing power of love makes for a great story.

    In fact, a person who believes he or she must fight all battles alone has a hard time accepting help when they really need it. This can lead to tragedy.

    Also, no one is born a Kick-Butt Heroine. Some of has have to learn the hard way. That’s an interesting story too.

  3. Viv says:

    First and foremost these books are entertainment. I want to be entertained. As a gay woman I want to read about capable women who, although go through tough times and deal with adversity, can handle it and will triumph over obstacles in their paths. Be that people, danger, situations, what have you. I don’t want secret babies, Cinderella and other stereo types. There is already lots of that already available. I don’t care if the story is F/F or F/M as long as the characters are challenged and engaging. They don’t have to be nice all the time, no one is. I guess what I am saying is that want characters that are more well rounded like real people. Not flat 2 dimensional. Old romances have lots of that. Whose ready to break new ground?!

  4. Liz says:

    Would you be interested in a m/m medical romance? Surgeon, anestheologist team that frequently works together… Or were you looking for those to be separate genres?

  5. Sunny Cole says:

    Is Carina still acquiring women’s fiction? New age, female bonding books?

    1. Sunny Cole says:

      Sorry – New Adult, not new age

      1. Angela James says:

        Hi Sunny, we don’t publish women’s fiction. We haven’t for many years!

  6. Kenya Wright says:

    Is it okay to have a short prologue that’s no more than 2 pages?

    1. Angela James says:

      @Kenya yep, short prologue is fine :)

  7. tricia Lynne says:


    What is PoC?

    1. Angela James says:

      Tricia, people/persons of color.

  8. Joel M Reed says:

    I am Joel M. Reed writer-director of the cult film classic “Bloodsucking Freaks.” I have an overpowering, dark mystery. A novel tailored for the world.

  9. Joan Kelley says:

    Just to clarify, Carina Press does or doesn’t publish fiction? Do you e-publish only?

    1. Angela James says:

      @Joan we only publish fiction, so I’m not quite clear on what you’re asking? Carina Press is digital-first. You can find out more information in our FAQs on the Write For Us page.

  10. Shaya says:

    For a planned trilogy that fits a specific content call, do you require to see only the outline for the three books first, or do you want the first book manuscript completed before consideration?

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