What the Editors Want
Updated January 2020
Carina Press is committed to inclusion and representation in our
publishing program. We’re interested in seeing not just manuscripts that
feature characters from a range of backgrounds and experiences, but books written
by authors from traditionally marginalized or underrepresented groups,
including (but not limited to) Black authors, authors of color, disabled
authors, and LGBTQIA+ authors. Our editors strive to make our list inclusive
and are working hard to build a catalog that is representative of the romance
We’ve pulled together a general imprint-wide wishlist for our
2021-2022 publishing schedule, below, and also asked our editors what they’d
most like to see.
Please note that for all of the below, we welcome LGBTQ+ romances as well as m/f.
Contemporary romance and romcoms that balance deep character development and realism with humor and hope. We’d love to read more MCs who will steal our hearts and make us laugh and cry as they find their HEAs. Think Kate Clayborn’s Chance of a Lifetime series, Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert, or Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner.
Romantic Suspense: With heavy emphasis
on the romance. We’re looking for strong, protective characters, dramatic
rescues, and off the charts chemistry. Ideally each book in a series will stand alone, with
light touches on any complicated plotlines that take multiple books to resolve.
Paranormals: We’re open to
concepts way beyond shifters, including witches, vampires, and other paranormal
elements and beings. Again we’re looking for very strong romance emphasis here,
with high stakes and swoon-y romance plots. RomSusp elements also invited.
are actively acquiring books for our new LGBTQ+ trope-based contemporary
romance line, Carina Adores. We’re open to a
variety of tropes, but right now we’re particularly on the lookout for city
settings and fun, fast-paced romances with the potential for drama: royalty,
marriages of convenience, enemies-to-lovers, fake relationships. For more
detail, please see the full Carina Adores submissions guidelines here.
Please note that Carina Adores is focused on contemporary
romance 50-65k only. If you have a submission with LGBTQ+ characters
that is longer than 65k or is not a trope-driven contemporary, we would love to
see it as part of our general submissions.
Kerri Buckley, Senior Editor and Stephanie Doig, Associate
Editor updated the above imprint-wide list, and welcome all queries
related to it. They’ve each also contributed to the editor-by-editor wishlists
I’m feeling a lot of feelings for caretaker
characters right now, and I would like to see more of them in my inbox. In
general and across subgenres, my ask right now is for people treating each
other gently vs. antagonistically. I still heart enemies-to-lovers…I’m just
interested in moving out of the “enemies” phase pretty quickly.
More specific asks:
- Reunion romances where both parties
have just been pining away in the sweetest, most deliciously gut-wrenching
way forever and ever.
- STILL WANT: Single dad romances.
Grumpy gray-hairs in particular.
- STILL WANT: Heroine-centric
stories/women’s fiction crossover. No high concepts required; lots of
focus on character growth, the emotional side of relationship dynamics,
and possibly the larger biological family or chosen family.
Non-traditional POV choices welcome here although we do require an
HEA/HFN, even if the romance isn’t completely front and center all the way
through. Think Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine with a
more romantic ending between Eleanor and Raymond, or Mariana
Zapata’s Wait for It.
- I’d love to see more small town contemporaries featuring traditionally marginalized characters. #ownvoices content very welcome.
- Bring me your found families! Large (or small!) groups of friends and all the complexities that come with that.
- I love a grumpy/soft character pairing, and I have a particular weakness for heroes who are standoffish as a defense mechanism, and eventually show their softer side to the right person. Bonus points if that hero type is paired with a total goofball.
- I love seeing an only child/introvert paired with someone who comes from a big, sprawling family—think Sarah Jessica Parker in The Family Stone, or Sandra Bullock in While You Were Sleeping. I’m still super interested in siblings as well; close family bonds are very interesting to me. Note: this dynamic applies across genres, so don’t limit yourself to contemporary romance!
- Forced proximity romance. This is my
favorite trope in any subgenre, so if you have it, I’d love to read it. Whether
we’re talking chefs in a restaurant kitchen, a wide receiver and the rival
team’s quarterback, partners in a law firm, two people stranded in a cabin, or
a duke and his aloof personal secretary, I want to see them navigating
inconvenient sexual tension. I’d especially like to see a really funny, snarky,
forced proximity romcom set in the workplace.
- Foodie Romance. Please send me your
romances where food is a major part of at least one character’s love language.
Bonus points if it’s set in New Orleans.
- Romance featuring neurodivergent characters
- Sports romance, especially with LGBTQIA+
characters. I tend to trip over my own feet, but I’m so inspired by the
dedication I see in athletes like Simone Biles or the US Women’s National
Soccer Team players, and I’d like to add more sports romance to my list.
- Contemporary romances featuring large
extended families. I have about thirty-two first cousins, and I love the
dynamics of a character bringing their significant other to meet the wild,
messy, protective extended family.
John is currently
closed to submissions but hopes to reopen shortly.
I’m eager to acquire stories containing twists on tropes and subverted expectations, especially #ownvoices. Here are some elements that pique my interest:
- Main characters with big passions and
personalities, such as daredevils and creatives and eco warriors
- Main characters who are hell-bent on
achieving some goal, and whose life is knocked off-kilter by falling in love
- Feel-good contemporary romances with strong
family or found family supporting characters
- Romantic suspense series with a secret
agenda trope that features an LGBTQ+ couple
- Plots that pit the MCs against each other,
either in competition or on opposing sides of a cause/issue/case or any
situation that at first appears to be zero sum
- Contemporary romance featuring an arranged
marriage or other marriage of convenience
- Sparkling banter, and characters who have a
great sense of humor
- Unusual settings and/or occupations,
including contemporaries set in cities
- Protagonists who screw up big-time and have
to figure out how to fix their problems
- Heist capers
- Characters who make tough choices to win
their love or achieve their goals
- Witty Regencies featuring LGBTQ+
- Cozy, PI and procedural mysteries with a
whodunit focus and featuring clever, quirky sleuths
looking for well-rounded casts, smitten couples, intricate world-building, and
strong, authentic dialogue with distinct character voices. A sense of
humor is also always a plus!And even more specifically:
- LGBTQ+ historical. Dukes, duchesses and
ballrooms are fantastic—frankly, I don’t get tired of them—but I’d also be
interested in seeing more unusual settings and scenarios.
- Thoughtful paranormals with complex
world-building. I’m very into shifters, but also vampires, magic users, demons
(you saw Good Omens, right?), and
more. I really want fresh, fun takes on paranormal romance.
- First-person narration from a protagonist
with a strong, witty/snarky voice. I love being fully immersed in a delightful
character. For a great example of what I mean, check out Charlie Adhara’s Big
Bad Wolf series.
- Some tropes I can’t get enough of, in any
genre: marriage of convenience, forced proximity, enemies to lovers. Basically,
if the couple is annoyed by how much they’re attracted to each other, I’m a big
- Ugly duckling/Cinderella-type protagonists?
Yes, please!. I love seeing an under-appreciated wallflower get an HEA, in any
- High-stakes plots where the protagonists
must work together in order to survive—and fall in love along the way.
- LGBTQ+ romantic suspense with tons of tension,
both in and out of the romance. I’m especially interested in couples we can
follow for multiple books in a series.
- Non-office workplace romances. Think
retail, baristas, schools/universities, even astronauts—I want to see more
books with characters falling in love on the job, but not in the boardroom.
Bonus points if you give me the Hot Dude Librarian hero of my dreams.
- Virgin heroes, across the board. Can’t get
enough of them.
- I’m looking for pragmatic and unapologetic characters who know what they want, and how to get it. I’m especially interested in LGBTQ+ and multicultural protagonists from diverse socioeconomic and neurodivergent backgrounds.
- Romcoms with heart (e.g. J.T. Geissinger’s Slow Burn series)
- Fish-out-of-water protagonists with semi-trustworthy (but fundamentally good) guides to the new world or culture they find themselves in.
- Romantic suspense featuring morally compromised protags who protect their love interest from both external and internal peril. Ruthless romantics also welcome (e.g. Kresley Cole’s The Player, Rhenna Morgan’s His to Defend, or Juno Rushdan’s Every Last Breath).
- Paranormals featuring non-western cultures and myths. Diverse cast, intense clan politics, and exquisite world building are a must! I would love a supernatural Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
- Sexy, unrepentant friends-to-lovers, enemies-to-lovers, partners-to-lovers contemporary romance. Think Sara Ney’s Jock Hard series.
- Low conflict, slow burns that are really sweet and focused on the romantic arc (e.g. Aidan Wayne’s Play it Again or Mariana Zapata’s From Lukov With Love).
- A Charlaine Harris-esque crazy paranormal mystery that is engaging and highlights strong friendships (e.g. the Midnight Texas series)
snappy dialogue, cheeky humor and a dry, sarcastic wit. On the flipside, I can
never resist beautifully rendered angst. No matter the tone, wrap me in the
world you create. I need to be invested in characters’ dreams and desires, and
why they can’t (initially) be happy together. “High stakes” doesn’t necessarily
mean the end of the world. What is important to these lovers? On my
- Relationships in trouble: save a once-loving couple from disaster! Prime ugly cry potential. Reconciliations can be even more moving than HEAs the first time around.
- Bodyguards: I adore the power dynamics inherent in bodyguard romances – the push-pull of who needs to be in charge at any given point. You don’t necessarily need heavy conflict and plot elements to tap into that dynamic.
- Historical LGBTQ+: any time period, although Regency/Victorian/Gilded Age are still favorites. I’d be very intrigued if they include paranormal or fantasy elements.
- Polyamory: romances that explores the complexities of love between more than two people. Angst is definitely not a must! If there’s such thing as a poly romcom, I want that asap.
- Foreplay: slow burn romances of any genre that build to a hot, sexy payoff.
- Lesbian romances: I would love to find lesbian romcoms, retellings of classics, or subgenres other than contemporary.
- Dark homecomings: protagonist left in disgrace, went to war, sent to jail – but what kind of home will they return to?
- Friends-to-lovers: When do you decide that risking a friendship is worth having it all? There’s so much potential here – anything from romcom to ugly cries.
- Paranormals with resourceful humans, ghoulish adversaries, epidemics, stalkers – with bonus points for a slow-burn couple whose romance develops over several books.
- Adrenaline junkies, smitten tough guys, Tony Stark-style playboys with hidden talents and depth, LBGTQ+ heists a la the Oceans series.