Thank you to everyone who joined us April 18 for our first Carina Press Virtual Spotlight! We greatly appreciate your attendance and the thoughtful questions you sent, both in advance and live during the broadcast. For those who were unable to watch live, we’ve got the full video recording available for you. And make sure to scroll below the jump—since we weren’t able to get to all the questions in the live session, we’ve answered them for you in this post.
Q: I’m still not completely clear on the difference between Harlequin and Carina titles 50,000+ words. If a book meets the criteria for a Harlequin imprint, wouldn’t it always be better to submit to Harlequin first, knowing that there is print and digital guaranteed, and possibly audio, rather than Carina, where print is not guaranteed? Is that why Carina’s digital first policy concentrates more, perhaps, on titles 20k-45k? Thanks!
A: Word count flexibility is one thing that distinguishes Carina Press from many of the other imprints at Harlequin, but there are other differences as well. Perhaps most important is this: the print market and the digital market can and do differ; Carina Press is focused primarily on the digital market, while Harlequin has more of a print focus. Our emphasis on digital releases allows us (and you!) to jump on trends quickly and get books to market on a much faster timeline than is required for print production.
Additionally, each Harlequin series has specific things they’re looking for, other things that they know do not work for the specific series’ audiences, and corresponding requirements around POV, heat level, settings, etc. Carina Press’s reading audience tends to be more flexible, and we evaluate things like POV and heat level on a case-by-case basis, to ensure they work for the individual story.
The best way to become familiar with the smaller differences is to read Carina Press books! Reading a few of our new releases will give you a feel for whether your manuscript would be a good fit or whether it would be better suited for consideration at one of the Harlequin imprints.
Q: I’m a debut author, and I’m working on putting together my author branding now. What do you expect to see in branding for someone new that you acquire?
A: We understand that it can be difficult building your author brand before you’ve been published! We’re looking for authors who are ready to begin that branding work; we don’t expect you to have thousands of followers, especially if you haven’t published before. We advise having a website, even if you don’t have much on it yet, and a presence on Facebook, Twitter, or both. If we can see online that you’re beginning to build a community (this is most often other authors, rather than readers, if you haven’t published yet), it tells us that you’re serious about starting your career.
Q: Are works from non-English speakers accepted?
A: We accept English-language works only. English does not need to be your first language, but your book must be written in English.
Q: I am two books into a series. There is one yet to be written. How would you like to see that submitted? I could send in two edited books. Would it be okay to send that with a synopsis for the unwritten third?
A: There is no need to submit all books in a series you’re proposing. We’d like to see the completed first book, a synopsis for that first book, and a series outline. This outline doesn’t need to be more than 1-2 pages and should include an overview of how many books are planned, their individual plots, themes, and characters, and an idea of the overall series arc. Be sure to mention in your query that Book Two is complete and available for request. In the event we are interested in Book One, we’d contact you to request additional material.
Q: If I was to submit Part 1 of a trilogy while Parts 2 and 3 were still in progress, would you want updates from me when Parts 2 and 3 were completed even if you have not yet had time to decide about Part 1?
A: We don’t require updates on when Parts 2 and 3 are complete while Part 1 is still on submission. However, if you do complete either parts and would like to let us know, feel free to leave us a note on your submission through Submittable. In other words, you don’t have to tell us, but we don’t mind being kept in the loop!
Q: Are you interested in journalistic/diary style stories with NO dialogue?
A: We are always interested in new, boundary-pushing methods of storytelling. However, because this is an unusual format for the romance and/or mystery genre, we’d recommend you send an email to Submissions@CarinaPress.com detailing the plot/arc of your story, rather than submit through the regular process. We will take a look at your email and let you know if we’re interested once we know more about the story.
Q: Is Carina interested in romantic ghost stories at all and what genre do they fall under?
A: Ghost romances can be a difficult sell, and the answer to this question really depends on how the ghost elements are built into the story. We’re not currently interested in publishing romances where the hero and/or heroine is a ghost (being dead kind of puts a damper on the HEA), but we would be open to stories that feature ghosts in some way. The genre this type of story falls under would depend on individual elements of the story, but it’s probably safest to submit under Paranormal Romance. If it’s a mystery with paranormal (ghost) elements, please submit under Mystery.
Q: I write about spiritual concepts, but not necessarily paranormal (ghosts, shapeshifters etc.). Could you clarify the parameters for paranormal?
A: Paranormal, like fantasy and science fiction, can be a tricky genre to pin down because there is a lot of overlap between these genres and their subgenres. While spiritual elements can certainly fit in there next to shapeshifters, demons and angels, witches, fae, psychics, and time travel, please note that Carina Press does not publish inspirational or faith-based romance. If you’d like additional, specific guidance or more information about where your particular manuscript might fall on the spectrum, please email us via Submissions@CarinaPress.com and we’d be happy to chat further.
Q: Do you accept any 20th Century historical?
A: Yes, we’re open to historical romance set in any time period.
Q: I write contemporary romance: NYC skylines, Hollywood homes, private jets and penthouse settings. Do I have a chance at getting published with Carina Press with such a setting?
A: Definitely. We’re open to contemporary romance in any setting, including the glitzy and glamorous.
Q: What is meant by “super sexy”? What exactly does that entail?
A: “Super sexy” most often refers to the amount of sex in a romance and how much/what kind of description is included: a high “heat level” across the entire story. Super-sexy books tend to have lots of open-door sex scenes, with plenty of explicit description, and portray a strong physical connection between the hero and heroine as important, without delving into erotic romance territory (where the h/h connection often develops through sex). Think authors like Megan Erickson, Tessa Bailey, Kendall Ryan, and Vi Keeland.
Books with fewer sex scenes and less graphic description in those scenes can also be super sexy—it’s all in the tension! But when we say super sexy in our submissions guidelines, we are referring to heat level.
Q: What are some “rookie errors” or obvious submission mistakes you see made by first-time authors? Do you, as a publisher, sometimes overlook such mistakes and still seriously consider those submissions when it’s clear the writer is learning?
A: We’re definitely not expecting perfect submissions—we’re looking for manuscripts to accept, not reject, so we overlook many minor things when doing our initial review. For example, we’ll never reject solely because you have a typo in your query letter, or because you spelled our name wrong. However, there are a few things you can do to make your submission stand out to an editor and maybe even move your book to the top of her (extensive!) reading pile. We have a detailed post on crafting an effective query letter here, but at the basic level, if you do your research before submitting and follow our guidelines, it always shows.