Submissions Guidelines: Submissions Tips and FAQs

Submission Tips

In addition to the FAQs on the next page, we have compiled a list of blog posts we’ve written in recent years that may be helpful to you in the submission process.

5 Ways to Write Romance with Respect

Query Letters

Writing a Synopsis

The Acquisition Process

When Your Submission Is Passed to Another Editor

Revise and Resubmit Does Not Mean No: Why Getting an R&R is a Positive Response

Reasons for Rejection

Why We Don’t Do Personalized Rejections

The Opposite of Rejection: What Makes an Editor Say Yes?

Things to Consider When Choosing a Pen Name

Career Planning

Submissions FAQ

Newly added FAQs

Diversity and Inclusion FAQs

FAQs about Carina Press Business

Contract FAQs

Editor and Submission FAQs

Other FAQs

  • Why did you remove LGBTQ+ as a subgenre on Submittable? What category do I submit my book in now?

We removed LGBTQ+ as a subgenre because we want our entire list to include the voices of and depict characters from all walks of life, sexual orientations, and gender identities. Directing submissions that fall outside the heteronormative definition of “romance” to a separate category is not in line with this, or with the overarching philosophy of Carina Press.

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  • Can you explain what you mean by “traditionally marginalized and underrepresented”?

For a long time, the primary voice of romance and, to a certain extent, mysteries, has been straight, cis, white, Christian, able-bodied and neurotypical. Our ask for “traditionally marginalized and underrepresented” authors and stories means that we would like to make our list more inclusive by acquiring books written by authors from all backgrounds, cultures, and communities.

Please visit these pages, where hard work is being done to lift the voices of traditionally marginalized and underrepresented authors.
Corinne Duyvis, author and originator of the #ownvoices hashtag.

We Need Diverse Books

#DVpit Website

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  • Will you label my book #ownvoices?

That’s really your choice. It’s not our place or goal to define your identity, share details about you publicly without your permission, or determine if your book is #ownvoices. We recognize that your privacy and safety are of the utmost importance and hold confidentiality on all author information unless granted permission from the author. This is an area we approach very sensitively and, we hope, sensibly, and if your work is acquired by Carina Press, topics such as this can be part of the editorial and pre-publication plan discussion.

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  • I’m looking for information on which specific editor is acquiring what I write, where do I find that?

Twice yearly, we post What the Editors Want updates on our blog. This post contains a detailed list of what our individual editors are looking for. You can find it here.

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  • Where do I find more information about the editors?

Biographical and CV information about all of our editors is available here. We also provide updates 2x/year on the blog that share what individual editors are looking to acquire, and the most recent update can be found here. More information about each editor can also be found via their Twitter accounts, listed here.

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  • What pronouns and honorifics should I use for communication with the editors?

Every editor’s preferred pronouns and honorifics are noted on both the What Editors Want page and the Meet the Carina Press Editors page.

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  • If my book is acquired by Carina Press, what type of relationship will I have with my editor?

The author/editor relationship differs from author to author and from editor to editor. One constant: all of our editors are deeply invested in making your book the very best it can be. They will be with you from an acquisition getting-to-know-you email through developmental (content) edits, line edits, copyedits and beyond. Our editors are always accessible. They are available to you for questions, support, career conversations, and more.

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  • is no longer an ecommerce site. Where would my book be available for sale?

All Carina Press books continue to be available in digital on as well as Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play, and other major online retailers.

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  • I want to have print books for book signings and giveaways. Do you do that?

We are pleased to offer 48 print author copies on titles over 50,000 words that hit all relevant production deadlines. These can be used for book signings, contest entries, and giveaways.

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  • My book was requested by one of your editors via a contest, conference, critique or some other personal invitation. How do I submit?

Please use our regular submissions process and upload a manuscript, synopsis and query letter via Submittable. Please mention in your query letter that your manuscript was requested, and direct your submission to the requesting editor in Submittable.

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  • If you don’t accept my manuscript, will you tell me why you’re passing? Can I email and ask for feedback?

Although we do review every submission sent to us, time constraints mean we are unable to provide specific feedback on every manuscript received through regular submissions. We ask that you do not respond to rejections with requests for feedback.

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  • I got a revise and resubmit, what does that mean?

A revise and resubmit is detailed in this post. If you receive an R&R, it means the editor found your manuscript and writing compelling, but there were issues that prevented them from taking it to the acquisition team. We do not offer R&Rs to many manuscripts, and an R&R is a positive indicator of interest, not a rejection. They take time and energy to write, so the editor has to like a project to put that work into it.

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  • I got a revise and resubmit, or personalized feedback in my pass letter, but I don’t understand what the editor is saying. Can I email for clarification?

Yes, please email with your question about the feedback or R&R, and we will review it and get you clarification. Please limit your questions to specific clarification issues, please do not ask for additional feedback.

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  • Do you need to know the heat level of my submission? What are heat levels, how do I know where my book fits?

It is helpful to us to understand where a book will fall in the market, and that includes knowing the heat level of a book. Here are some heat levels to consider:

No-sex-on-page/sweet/chaste: Sometimes referred to as “closed door,” it means simply that there is no sex on page, though there may be kissing, and if any sex occurs, it takes place off page.

Sexy/sensual: Kissing and sex take place on page, though sex scene frequency on page may be limited, and minimum graphic language is used.

High heat: On-page sex, high sexual tension, and graphic language.

Erotic: In erotic romance, there is frequent on-page sex, high sexual tension and graphic language, and the sexual relationship between the characters is one of the primary drivers of the romantic relationship and a central focus of the overall story.

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  • My book falls into multiple genres, which category should I submit it under? Should I submit it under more than one?

Please submit each manuscript only once. Choose the subgenre that best fits your book—we’ll let you know if it belongs elsewhere.

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  • Do you still accept previously published books?

Please see our submissions information about previously published work.

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  • My book has some “taboo” elements; can you elaborate on what is or isn’t acceptable content?

Carina Press is unable to consider manuscripts that feature incest, bestiality, gratuitous violence, or rape for titillation.

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  • I’m interested in working for Harlequin/Carina Press, who do I contact?

For employment at Harlequin, please visit the Harlequin Careers page. Inquiries regarding freelance copy editing, proofreading, and art can also be directed through that site, as can interest in offering translation and audiobook narration services. Please do not email our Carina Press general inboxes with queries about these services, as we are not involved in hiring for these positions.

If you are interested in freelance content editing positions, please watch our social media (links found here) and blog for openings. Please be aware that we do not respond to unsolicited inquiries about positions, and all emails will be deleted without response.

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  • As Carina Press is an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Ltd, how is it different from the other imprints?

At the very basic level, Harlequin is a traditional print publisher with a robust digital offering, while Carina Press is a digital-first imprint of Harlequin with a mandate to publish original fiction in digital format first, with select titles in print and audio. The Carina Press contract most often does not include an advance, and authors are compensated with a higher digital royalty instead.

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  • What are the advantages of digital publishing?

Our distribution model is mostly digital, which means we’re not limited by print bookstore shelf space and other retail bookstore concerns — this gives us greater flexibility in the type of editorial we can publish. We’re also able to quickly get new books to market — if a genre is new and developing, we want to be there with books readers are eager to read.

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  • Why should I choose Carina Press?

We view Carina Press as a joint effort between publisher and author — we combine our editorial and marketing expertise with your passion for your story to make sure it gets into the hands of readers who will love it.

Our editors are all experienced fiction editors with many years of experience — all come from a background of fiction editing and are tremendously talented, working with the author to polish their work until it shines.

The marketing department provides professional cover art, marketing support, conference materials and more to both promote individual authors as well as help authors promote themselves.

Behind the scenes, our production and retail teams work to produce a superior product and then coordinate with our 3rd party retail partners to get your title in front of readers with the most optimal placements.

Together, we bring an enthusiastic team dedicated to the success of every author and title we publish, from the moment your book is acquired to long after it’s been published. We work together to not only strategize the success of your book, but to plan for your career!

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  • What are your digital royalties?

Carina Press pays 40% of net digital receipts to books sold on 3rd party retail sites and 50% of net digital receipts to books sold directly on the website. Our contract also lays out royalties for other rights, such as audio, print and foreign translation.

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  • How should I format my book?

We don’t have formal formatting requirements. We only ask that you double space and use a legible, plain black font. Please see our Submission Guidelines for full details on how to send your manuscript once completed.

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  • My genre isn’t listed in the submission guidelines, does that mean you won’t consider it?

We are not acquiring young adult, inspirational fiction, women’s fiction, family sagas, literary fiction, general historical fiction or non-romance science fiction and fantasy. Our main publishing focus is romance and mystery.

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  • Will you consider my book young adult simply because my characters are young?

Age of characters alone will not make your book a young adult. We recognize in some genres, for instance fantasy, young protagonists may be featured in an adult-themed novel. In deciding whether you’re able to pitch your novel to us as adult fiction, please take into consideration both your targeted audience and the themes of your story.

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  • Do you publish books set in places outside the US and Canada?

We’ve published books set all over the world, from Austria to Egypt to England. We don’t limit submissions based on where the book is set.

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  • Does my book have to have romantic elements or a specific heat level to be published by Carina Press?

We’ll continue to publish nonromance in the mystery genre only. Within the subgenres of romance that we publish, 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.

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  • Do you accept unagented submissions?


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  • Do you accept simultaneous submissions?

You are welcome to submit a manuscript to us that is also under consideration at other publishers, including other Harlequin imprints. We ask that you let us know immediately if it’s contracted elsewhere, so we can let our editors know it’s no longer available. If your book is currently under consideration with another Harlequin imprint, please mention this, including which imprint, in your query letter.

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  • Can I submit to Carina Press if another Harlequin imprint has rejected me?

Yes, you may submit a manuscript that has been rejected by any publisher, including Harlequin. Different stories and voices work for different publishers.

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  • Can I submit multiple manuscripts at one time?

You can submit more than one submission to Carina Press. However, please do not send more than one book in a series at a time. If additional books in a series are available, please mention this in your query letter and we will request to view them should it be necessary.

If you are submitting multiple books, please submit each separately, creating a new Submittable entry for each submission, with all required material (query letter, synopsis, manuscript, etc).

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  • Will Carina Press publish my book in print?

Though our main focus is and will always be digital publishing, we are utilizing some print rights and will continue to look for further opportunities in the future. Our books go into print through a variety of channels, including trade or mass market paperback in the retail market, mass market paperback via Harlequin’s subscription programs, and through the Carina Choice short-run print program, where books are made available for sale in mass market paperback on online retailers.

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  • Do you pay advances?

There are a few select situations in which we have paid advances, accompanied by a lower digital royalty rate (25% NDR) but primarily our author contract is royalty based.

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  • Can I create my own cover art?

As part of the Carina Press process, we take on the cover art for you. Every author provides us with as much information on their title as possible, and we work with a consistent group of artists to create covers that have a distinct Carina Press look and feel, while reflecting the genre and tone of the book. All covers are reviewed by our marketing and editorial team. Authors are consulted at each stage of the cover art process, from art fact sheet to concept to final.

Our goal is to create a cover that you’ll be proud to promote and that will attract great sales for your book.

We ask that authors not send us prospective covers with their submissions, as we are unable to use author-produced covers.

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  • Who should I address my submission to?

If you’d like to see which editors are specifically seeking certain genres, you can visit the editor bio section on our website before directing your submission accordingly via the drop-down menu found on Our editors will also put out specific calls for submissions on occasion, via both their personal Twitter accounts and the Carina Press blog.

You do not need to personally address your query or direct your submission to a particular editor if you don’t want to. If you’d prefer not to direct your submission to a particular editor, query letters can be addressed to Dear Editor.

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  • My book is in first person, is that okay?

We love first person!

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  • Will my manuscript be edited and copy edited?

Carina Press goes through the same rigorous acquisition and editorial development process as traditional print publishers, and sometimes more, as we utilize freelance editors whose sole job is to edit your book. Your book will get content edits, line edits, copy edits, and several rounds of proofreading and quality control.

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  • Will I be charged to publish my book with Carina Press?

Carina Press is not a vanity publisher and the author is not asked to pay for publication, editing, cover art or other services.

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  • Do I have to live in North America to be published by Carina Press?

Carina Press authors live worldwide. We have authors in the UK, Canada, Australia, Thailand and more!

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      • What do I do if I get an offer of publication on a book currently on submission with Carina Press?
      • This is a great “problem” to have, congratulations! If you receive an offer of publication on a manuscript currently under review by Carina Press, please let us know right away. You may, of course, choose to accept the other publisher’s offer and withdraw the manuscript from our consideration. We appreciate the courtesy of notification as it allows us to focus our time on projects still available to us.

        Alternately, you may wish to have us review it for possible acquisition. In this case, we ask that you give us a minimum of two weeks to review and either make an offer or pass on the project. It is never unreasonable for you to ask the publisher who’s given you the offer for a few weeks to let other publishers know and get responses from them (even if it’s us who’s made the offer and you’re letting other publishers know!) This is an important step and you don’t want anyone to rush you into a decision!

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      • What do I do if I get an agent while I have a manuscript on submission with Carina Press?
      • Congratulations! If the agent who’s now representing your work will also be representing the manuscript on submission, please let the agent know immediately that you have it on submission with us. Either you or your agent can then alert us of the status change, as well as the agent’s contact details, and we will send our final response to your agent, rather than directly to you.

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      • How do I withdraw a manuscript from consideration or otherwise update my submission with new information?
      • Now that we are using the Submittable system for submissions, withdrawing and updating your submission is easier than ever. Simply go to the Submittable account you created when you first submitted your manuscript. Find your submission and the system gives you several choices, including withdrawing or updating with a note. We receive alerts of these changes immediately.

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      • If I live in the UK or Australia, do I need to submit to HQ Stories or Escape?
      • No, authors have the choice of where they’d like to submit, and are welcome to submit to Carina Press no matter where they reside.

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      • If I publish my story with Carina Press, do I retain my copyright?
      • Our contract does not ask for “ownership” of the copyright, but instead a grant of rights (digital, audio, print, translation, etc) from the author, as agreed upon during the contract process. Carina Press registers the copyright on the author’s behalf upon publication of the book.

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    • Why did you select the name Carina Press?

Carina is a constellation in the southern sky. Its name is Latin for the keel of a ship, and it was formerly part of the larger constellation of Argo Navis, which represents the Argo — the ship from Greek mythology that carried heroes Jason and the Argonauts on their successful voyage to capture the Golden Fleece.

We’re suckers for a great story, and Greek mythology is full of fantastic stories. When we came upon Carina, the sailing imagery really appealed to us (we even included sails in our original logo) because at the time, in November 2009, we were the first and only digital-first press within any traditional publishing house, so we were sailing in a new, exciting direction into uncharted waters.

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  • What is your logo?

The Carina Press logo, first introduced on our November 2013 digital titles and now found on all frontlist digital and print titles, is meant to represent the diversity and scope of the books offered within Carina Press. The logo is a cascade of books forming the letter “C”.

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  • What if my question isn’t included in the FAQs?

Email us at and we’ll respond! Please make sure you have fully investigated all of our submissions guidelines, linked posts and FAQs before emailing, as quite often, the information you’re looking for is available here. However, if you can’t find it, please email us and allow for at least 72 business hours response time, longer if you are querying over a holiday or on the weekend.

Please note: we do NOT take queries or submissions via email, all email submissions will be deleted unless we have directly requested them.

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