Giveaway: We’re Updating Our Submissions Guidelines and Need Your Help!


One of the things we know here at Carina Press is that authors are also very avid readers, so we have a giveaway for authors, whether you’re published or unpublished!

Our editorial team is revamping the Carina Press Write For Us submissions guidelines and we need your help. Visit the Write For Us page and take a look at the submissions guidelines. In the comments below, tell us something you think is missing, something you wish was different, something you think is unclear or needs to be changed.

Not only will you be helping us offer clearer, more useful information to authors interested in writing for Carina Press, but when you comment you’ll be entered to win one of 5 prize packs of Carina Press print books

Prize pack one: One print copy each of Hot Response by Shannon Stacey and On Duty by A.R. Barley, a Carina Press bottle opener and a Carina Press emery board.

Prize pack two: One print copy eachof Everything for Her by Alexa Riley and Rough & Tumble by Rhenna Morgan, a Carina Press bottle opener and a Carina Press emery board.

Prize pack three: One print copy each of Sea of Suspicion by Toni Anderson and Murder Takes the High Road by Josh Lanyon, a Carina Press bottle opener and a Carina Press emery board.

Prize pack four: One print copy each of Ethan & Wyatt by K.A. Mitchell and Giving Chase by Lauren Dane, a Carina Press bottle opener and a Carina Press emery board.

Prize pack five: One print copy each of After Hours by Lynda Aicher and Shake Down by Jade Chandler, a Carina Press bottle opener and a Carina Press emery board.

Giveaway! In the comments, tell us something you think is missing from our submissions guidelines, something you wish was different, something you think is unclear or needs to be changed.

Open to residents of the US and Canada, excluding Quebec. Contest closes October 14th, at 11:59 p.m. ET. Five (5) winners will be selected from all eligible comments on October 15th. For full official rules, click here.

Note: This giveaway was originally posted on September 28, and was briefly down due to a technical error. To make up for this, we are extending the giveaway to the 15th. If you have already commented on the post and entered the contest, your comments have been saved and will be counted when we draw names for the prizes. You do not need to comment again.

Update This contest is now closed.


23 thoughts on “Giveaway: We’re Updating Our Submissions Guidelines and Need Your Help!”

  1. Christine Poe says:

    I would love to win one of the giveaway packages, esp. Hot Response! That book sounds yummy. As for the Submissions page: I think you cover pretty much everything with the exception of what exactly the paranormal category includes. I know the genre interest changes from time to time but it would be nice to know exactly what or all of what you are looking for. Are ghosts totally out? Is time-travel even selling? What about the vampire craze, is it finally over?

    And how much standard romance are you actually acquiring/looking for? Definitely no category romance at all, correct? Your Submittable page appears to request more diverse romance than standard romance, which isn’t a bad thing but if that is mainly what you are acquiring/looking for it would be nice to know upfront. One of the most frustrating things for any author is to receive form rejections and not know “why” or if their writing even has a chance. It’s hard to keep going, keep trying when you don’t know what it was that wasn’t liked or acceptable. I agree the more clear your Submittable page is and what exactly the editors are looking for, the better it is for us writers to get it right and not waste your time or ours. Thank you for allowing our input and for being a great company which I hope to one day write for. :)

  2. Erin Novotny says:


    What I find most helpful is your listing of books/authors that are similar to what you are looking for. Obviously, you don’t want the same book, but it gives me a hint as to the tone/situation/heat level, etc.

    One minor suggestion I’d like to make is to review the editors’ individual mystery acquisitions preferences. Mackenzie Walton and John Jacobson don’t list any kind of mystery they’d prefer, in fact, if it hadn’t been stated in the graphic at the bottom of the page, I wouldn’t know that they are interested in mystery at all. I’m not sure if you are looking for contemporary cozy mysteries set in North America, although Deb says “unique hook and setting” she also goes on to mention paranormal elements. To me, this reads she’s looking for the next Charlaine Harris Midnight Texas (and who wouldn’t?), and wouldn’t consider a Sherry Harris Garage Sale Cozy Mystery.

    Otherwise, it looks great with so many editors interested in many different subgenres and voices.


  3. Ann Franks says:

    Having just recently gone through the process of evaluating of whether or not to submit my manuscript, I can offer the following comments.

    The Submission Guidelines page appears pieced together over time and therefore muddled.
    The matrix under the Genres heading is a great tool that perhaps could be used at the forefront and have links to the details of what the Editors are currently looking for in each area. The matrix could be expanded to be all inclusive instead of having “The Dirty Bits from Carina Press” and Critiques mixed within text.
    The About Us section is in the middle which is odd, might be more appropriate at the beginning.
    The What We’re Looking for in a book might be better as a link v’s on the actual submission page.
    Making the “How to Submit” and “Submission Tips” more prominent or the meat and potatoes of the page would seem logical.

    Hope the feedback helps!

  4. Carla Cloutier says:

    I think this is very thorough. The only thing I can think of is do you want us to refer to the heat level of the story somewhere in the synopsis or short description? Is that important? I know you mentioned all levels of heat are acceptable. I just wondered if that info was necessary to include in the submission.

    Thanks so much for the opportunity!

  5. Finn says:

    maybe explain what is expected in each heat level somewhere…

  6. Toks W says:

    I would suggest outlining more clearly what a writer should do if they feel their work falls under multiple categories and how to best categorize. As well, note whether a work can be submitted to multiple categories at once.

  7. I would love to see more about what Carina Press considers ‘erotic’, which could mean telling what a story doesn’t have to include, or shouldn’t include. For instance, I’ve seen many lists of what makes a story erotic but some Dirty Bits stories don’t contain them, just really hot writing. Also, the internet is full of places that combine erotic romance with erotica. Other places on the internet make clear delineations between the two. What is Carina Press’s stance? Thanks for asking.

  8. Tiana says:

    Hello there! The biggest issue I see with the site isn’t the content of the submission page. It’s the jumbled (but informative) content that is confusing for me. So, it’s a matter of formatting and layout. Here are my suggestions:
    1. Clickable subheads that take you directly to where you want to go on the page. For example, the Submission FAQ is helpful, but it’s buried at the end of the page. If it is highlighted at the top with a link pointing directly to the content, then that may help aspiring or curious authors.
    2. Bullet points. Bullets help with scanning a page. Also, this will create more white space on the page. There is a lot of text on the page, and the eye needs room to “breathe” and rest.
    3. If you are looking at this page on mobile, it is WAY too long. Is there any way to cleave some information into separate pages that can be linked to that page.
    Odd question: Have you considered a card sorting exercise with website users? That may be helpful to see how people use the site and where people go on the site.

  9. Mary Jane Campbell says:

    I think it would be nice if after the type is described, the editors wanting those would be listed in order of want. It would help because if an editor is on the fence about a category, and that’s the editor you are targeting, you’ll never get past a “no” where someone who loves the category and is hot for it might see promise in the story. Also, in the guidelines, I like the examples of books and hints of what you want, similar to what the editors individually want would also be helpful.

    If there is an editor who really is low on submissions or a category, it would be great to tell us.

  10. C. J. Czelling says:

    As a recent submitter I did inquire about expected heat levels for Carina Dirty Bits. I received a prompt and useful reply.

    I have a tendency to push boundaries so it would be helpful to have more detail on any taboos you might enforce.

    For example, I would understand if ‘on camera’ sex between minors is forbidden. I am currently mining some friends’ real life history where the couple became lovers as preteens and remain lovers thirty years later. Would a passing reference to this in conversation be acceptable? What about a discussion of the challenges?

    Likewise, what are the limits on incest? Other publishers specifically encourage step-sibling plots. I noticed guidelines recently where relations between blood relatives were prohibited but in-laws were explicitly permitted. I have a work in progress where there is sexual tension between the hero and his wife’s sister. I haven’t yet figured out where this will go.

    I am sure that you will think of other elements to consider. It would be helpful to see not only what is prohibited but what is permitted.

    With all of love,
    C. J. Czelling

  11. Regina MacIntyre says:

    I would, first of all, break the area down to separate genre tabs, with specs and applicable editors (with any commentary) listed under each. Another tab could be a catch-all for proposal calls, contests, first page critiques etc.
    A link under the genre tabs could lead to the “call” tab as well.
    Also, a link could be included to authors to read for those respective genres.

  12. F.J. Thomas says:

    I also think a simple outline format is a good idea. I have submitted a couple times before and really had to look several times to nail down the requirements.

    A simple format where writers can tell at a glance -literally – what you want would be nice.
    Romance Line – Word Count – Heat level
    Trope details, examples below
    Editor to contact.

    F.J. Thomas

  13. Marlyn Schima says:

    I found the site to be stuffed with information to the point that it became overwhelming and confusing. After skipping from one link to another, I started to think it was more a formatting problem where topic through lines were crossed with others to the confusion of the reader. (Kind of like paths crossing in the woods: you can’t keep your eye on the destination so you find yourself wandering the wrong path only to come upon three others. They’re all very interesting but not where you wanted to go: fascinating but frustrating. The actual submission guidelines (the “how to”) were clear and precise.

  14. Rafe says:

    I think for the most part your guidelines pretty clear, but if I were to improve them, I might make it more clear if you were open to m/m or f/f work in each acquisition category. Because you mention the m/m romantic suspense in the beginning, it makes me wonder if that is the main type of m/m romance you are looking for or if other types are also being acquired. My guess is that you are open to it in all categories because of other things you say, but a little more clarity there might help.

  15. Rebekah says:

    I think the guidelines are clear, though it would be nice to have a few more proposal calls throughout the year. I understand it’s a lot of work but as an indie author who’s open to being a hybrid author, it’s nice to have the option of writing on proposal without an agent.

  16. Kay says:

    I always get a little confused with mixed genres and how that would work. What if there is a story that is an historical western paranormal romance? I’d love clearer direction on genre-bending works.

  17. Derrolynne says:

    I am commenting as someone looking from a cell phone. It’s where I do 90% of my work.

    I would suggest putting FAQ on another page. As others mentioned, things are pretty jumbled. I’d also love to see a better description of what you’re looking for in the thriller area (I have a friend with an amazing book in that area that publishers are afraid to touch – I’d love to see a Carina editor with a little over the edge bravery for authirs like her).

    Also, your what we are looking for and not looking for does not fit on a cell screen and we have to scroll over.

  18. Seasoned heroines. #olderheroinesrock Women who have tripped and fallen, skinned their emotional knees, and men who find the scars sexy.

  19. Kayla Bain-Vrba says:

    I feel that reorganizing the page would be most helpful to me. There’s a lot of information but it’s kind of all over the place, probably from additions over time.

  20. L Carpenter says:

    Would like to see the “What we’re looking for in a book” section laid out in table format like the “genre” section. This would be a lot less cluttered and much easier to read, especially on a desktop or laptop.

    Of course, tables don’t always work so well for phone screens, but you could show the whole table on the page and link each section to a more readable version, or make it a pie chart so the user could tap the section of interest and get the full info.

    The “how to submit” section could also be replaced with a more-readable table format.

    If tables don’t work for you, how about linked or tappable book covers that reflect what you are looking for in each genre. These could utilize the “flippable” layout, like a magazine, and each section would be written on a separate page, as if the reader is flipping through a magazine, with the added benefit of having tappable or linked options for returning to prior sections or jumping ahead to future sections. You want your potential authors to be creative, so show a bit of creativity yourselves.

    Also, if you are going to continue to lay out the FAQ section with the questions at the top linked to the answers at the bottom, having an up arrow or return to the main list of questions at the end of each answer would make navigation much easier.

  21. P. Perkins says:

    Website suggestions (high level):
    -Leverage a visual hierarchy and create a layout with a balance of copy & graphics (i.e. genres chart). I love the clean white space but right now it is very copy heavy. I think some visuals/borders/icons/clearer headers would help.
    -Include a “Featured” section so it is clear what the newest information is.
    -FAQ: in order to minimize visitors clicking out too many times it is ok to keep on same page but maybe have it as a section that can expanded to minimize scrolling?
    -About us does not need to be included if it is a permanent option on top of the overall website.

  22. Dawn Roberto says:

    I think you covered everything in what you are looking for but would like to to see if say your paranormal category state maybe what kind of paranormal story you are looking for. Unique shifters, fae, witches and wizards, etc. I keep seeing vampires, cat or wolf shifters and very little of other shifters/weres out for readers to enjoy. If looking for shifter/were stories, what kind of shifters/weres are you looking for? Something a bit more explicit in describing what paranormal/urban fantasy story you may want. Other than that, I think you covered it quite nicely. Thanks for the giveaway. Some great prizes to be won!

  23. Elissa Smith says:

    This contest is now closed and congratulations to our winners by random draw, Erin Novotny, Kay, F.J. Thomas, L Carpenter and Maurine. Please check your inboxes for an email from me. -Elissa from the Carina Press Blog

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