What the Editors Want
*Updated January 2019
Carina Press wants to reaffirm our commitment to inclusion and representation in our publishing program and extend a specific invitation to Black authors, authors of color, LGBTQIA authors, disabled authors and other traditionally underrepresented voices. We want to see your submissions across all romance and mystery subgenres and tropes. We strive to make our list one of inclusion, and are working hard to build a catalog that is more representative of the romance reading public. The key is really intersectionality—no person is completely defined by one aspect of themselves, and no character or story should be, either.
For publication in fall 2019 onward, we’ve asked our editors what they’d most like to see. Part of what we love about our team here at Carina, and hope you’ll appreciate as well, is the wide range of tastes and enthusiasm everyone brings to the table. There’s truly an editor for everyone—just read through to find your potential perfect match below!
We’ve also pulled together a slightly more general imprint-wide wishlist. Please remember that with the exception of mysteries, all submissions to Carina Press must fall into the larger category of ROMANCE, regardless of subgenre. This means you need an HFN (happy for now) or HEA (happily ever after) in every romance manuscript.
We want to see more inclusion and representation across the mystery genre, and are looking for mysteries featuring protagonists from traditionally marginalized or underrepresented backgrounds, written by #ownvoices authors.
|Lighthearted, fun contemporary romance and romcoms. No massively dark backstories, no heavy angst, and lots of laughs and banter. Think Lucy Parker’s London Celebrities series, Intercepted by Alexa Martin, and even Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game.
|Historical mysteries with romantic elements. All time periods are fair game. Think Ashley Gardner, Rhys Bowen’s Molly Murphy books, Lady Sherlock by Sherry Thomas, and C.S. Harris’s Sebastian St. Cyr series. Something mystery focused, with rich historical detail, and at least a light romantic thread running throughout.
|Ugly Cries. Those books that stay with you for months; deep-heart stories of being ripped apart and put back together again. We want lots of emotional investment, but not necessarily issue-driven books. Touch our hearts with loss, emotional pain, or a particularly gut-wrenching confrontation scene. BUT! You have to deliver us a great HEA because this is romance, after all. We’re still bawling over Melanie Hansen’s Point of Contact. Other good examples are Riley Mackenzie’s Abruption and Brittainy C. Cherry’s Disgrace.
* Note: We would love to see a standalone or series that weaves these first two romance asks together. An example of a series we love that manages to combine laugh-out-loud humor in a fun, contemporary romance with rip-out-your-heart emotion is Bear, Otter, and the Kid by TJ Klune.
|Paranormal mysteries. Protagonists with paranormal powers, who get help from the undead, live in enchanted towns, build supernatural friendships and liaise with creatures who go bump in the night. We’re interested in a little something weird structured around a solid mystery arc, anywhere within the genre. With or without romantic elements. Please think Practical Magic and Hocus Pocus, A Grave Calling by Wendy Roberts, Charlaine Harris’s Harper Connolly books, The Dowser Series by Meghan Ciana Diodge, and Jana DeLeon’s Happily Everlasting series.
|Paranormals (and urban fantasy romance): Yes, we are indeed actively acquiring in these subgenres. And we’re open to concepts way beyond shifters, including witches, vampires, ghosts, and other paranormal elements and beings (although shifters are cool, always). Clan politics, fated mates, kickass characters doing kickass things and landing their HEA, despite the odds. RomSusp elements invited.
|Cozy mysteries, procedurals and detective series featuring protagonists from traditionally marginalized or underrepresented backgrounds, written by #ownvoices authors.
|Romantic Suspense: With the suspense acting in support of the romance, rather than the suspense being the main attraction with the romance being a lesser element, please. While we welcome overarching storylines, ideally each book in a series will stand alone, with light touches on any complicated plotlines that take multiple books to resolve. We’re wanting strong, protective characters, dramatic rescues, and off the charts chemistry.
And don’t miss our current proposal calls. No full manuscripts required to submit!:
2019 Holiday Submission Call:
We’re looking for proposals for contemporary romances set against holidays that fall from October to January. Holidays celebrated by all different faiths, belief systems and cultures are included, and books do not need to be set in the United States.
While we’re still interested in Christmas novels, our aim is to read (and publish) far beyond that.
Completed manuscripts should be planned for a minimum of 50,000 words. All heat levels considered and, as with all of our submissions calls, we welcome #ownvoices authors and authors writing inclusively, including all LGBTQ+ pairings or poly relationships
See this page for detailed submission requirements and guidelines.
Angela James, Editorial Director (she/her/Ms.), Kerri Buckley, Senior Editor, and Stephanie Doig, Associate Editor, updated the above imprint-wide list, and welcome all queries related to it. In addition, please see individual wishlists for Kerri and Stephanie below:
Kerri Buckley (she/her/Ms.)
Single dad books remain at the top of my wishlist. All heat levels and settings considered, queer characters most welcome, cute kids a must. I want the relationship between Dad and his kid(s) to pull at my heartstrings, the romance to be realistic and deep, and everyone to end up as one big, happy and possibly messy or quirky family. Hit me with your grumpy, nerdy, gentle or tough guy dads. All the dads. Please and thank you.
- 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 that 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.
- Paranormal cozies with razor-sharp banter and a light, series-long romantic arc
- Super sexy female/female enemies-to-lovers stories across subgenres (helllllooo US/Canadian hockey team captains getting married, wheeee!)
- 1980s/1990s set romances. MCs without cell phones or social media. Go!
- Contemporaries with a touch of magical realism, like Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells.
- Police procedurals with female leads and strong romantic elements. Preferably on the darker side, wrestling with powerful Good vs. Evil setups. Think the British TV series Happy Valley.
Stephanie Doig (she/her/Ms.)
I am looking for delicious romantic tension when I read a romance—whether it comes from charming banter, intense emotions, or earnest, no-holds-barred declarations, I want to eagerly anticipate every word.Super-fun romantic comedies—I want to laugh out loud, I want to giggle while reading in public, I want a book that will make me wish I knew your characters in real life. Bonus points if you have one goofy, warm-hearted, caretaker-type determined to win the heart of a grump.
- Very caring heroes paired with pricklier heroines—Talia Hibbert’s A Girl Like Her is a recent favourite of mine.
- Contemporary romance with heart—I love Kate Clayborn’s Chance of a Lifetime series, and would love to see submissions that hit a similar emotional note.
- I’d love to see more subplots featuring close sibling relationships (not romantic relationships between siblings—platonic, family relationships playing a part in the larger story). Think Zeus, Ares and Ambrosia in Pippa Grant’s hockey series.
- Arranged marriage romance—I’d love to see a contemporary romance with a respectful portrayal of arranged marriage as part of the characters’ culture, complete with complex emotional dynamics and family relationships.
- Romances featuring a plus-sized protagonist, where being plus-sized is not their defining characteristic.
- Enemies to lovers! This works great in fake relationship or forced proximity stories, but I’m open to any trope with this type of relationship dynamic.
- Reimaginings of classics—I recently loved Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin and would love to see a romance along those lines.
- Paranormal romances and/or urban fantasy romances featuring witches, demons or other magic-users. I’m a sucker for a fated-mates story.
And please read on to learn what our fantastic freelance editors are most wanting to see at this time:
Alissa Davis (she/her/Ms.)
I’m looking for romances with flawed, compelling characters who learn from each other as they fall in love.
I’m also looking for:
- Forced proximity romance. Whether we’re talking chefs in a restaurant kitchen, a wide receiver and his quarterback, partners in a law firm, dragonriders defending the realm, two people stranded in a cabin, or a cinnamon-roll duke and his aloof personal secretary, I want to see them navigating inconvenient sexual tension and high stakes conflict.
- Contemporary or historical resistance romance. Please send me characters who see injustice and want to fix it.
- Paranormal romance, especially those with more diversity within the packs of shifters and vampires. I love the TV show Lost Girl and would be thrilled to find a paranormal romance series set in a world like that one, where we see lots of different types of shifters, fae and magic, with complex group dynamics and shifting allegiances. I’d also love to see witches again, but with lighter magical elements and more focus on the sisterhood of the coven than on the actual spells.
- Royalty! I’m hunting for full-length romances with at least one royal. Can be historical, futuristic, LGBTQIA+, fantasy romance, etc., as long as it has a sweeping romance, beautiful clothes and great conflict.
- LGBTQIA+ in any subgenre and heat level. I’d love to see f/f arranged marriage or marriage of convenience romance, and if anyone wants to write a trans Scarlet Pimpernel retelling, either historical or a contemp version, please send it my way!
- Characters who work with animals. If you have a romantic suspense series featuring teams who work with search-and-rescue dogs, or a contemporary romance set in an animal rescue, my foster dogs and I would love to see it.
- Historical romance that’ll make me laugh. I’m here for the snarky banter and the heroines with a bawdy sense of humor.
- Romance featuring characters who are neurodivergent.
- Sexy, emotional, slow-burn contemporary romance.
- Erotic romance along the lines of Kresley Cole’s The Game Maker series.
- Rom com where at least part of the story takes place in a restaurant or kitchen and cooking is part of their shared love language. If you have a food critic/chef romance, I’d love to take a look!
Deborah Nemeth (she/her/Ms.)
I’m looking for mysteries and romance with characters driven by strong goals, whether that’s to catch a murderer, pull off a tricky heist, right a wrong, or rebel against evil galactic overlords. I have a partiality for characters and tropes that subvert expectations, including gender-flipped retellings, and for characters who have a wicked sense of humor. I’m especially interested in acquiring #ownvoices mystery and romance.
In particular I’d like to see the following:
- Cozies, procedurals and PIs featuring clever sleuths or engaging crime-fighting duos—including those whose investigative skills are enhanced (or complicated) by paranormal abilities.
- Historical mystery in a compelling setting that features romantic elements teased out over the series.
- Feel-good romances about relationships that complicate the protagonists’ lives and force them to change or make tough choices. Some of my favorite tropes include secret agenda, arranged marriage, forbidden love, forced proximity, fake engagement, and enemies to lovers. I’m also a sucker for redemption themes and I enjoy an epic grovel.
- Stories that make me smile, such as witty Regencies and lighthearted capers and romantic comedy with snappy banter.
- Romantic suspense that has a good balance of relationship development and high-stakes action. Unusual locales and dramatic landscapes welcome.
- Protagonists who display character agency—they may screw up and make things worse, but they drive the action and eventually figure things out for themselves.
- Stories set outside the US.
- Mysteries featuring Muslim or Hindu sleuths.
- F/f Austen retellings.
Mackenzie Walton (she/her/Ms.)
I’m always looking for well-rounded casts, opposites-attract couples, intricate world-building, and strong, authentic dialogue with distinct character voices. And even more specifically:
- LGBTQIA+ 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.
- Fun, sexy/erotic contemporaries, especially featuring those daydream/fantasy boyfriends—movie stars, musicians, athletes and the like.
- Moody, thoughtful paranormals with complex world-building. I love characters who really contemplate what it means to be a paranormal creature in the mundane world.
- Vampires, please! Yes, they’re back, and I really want a fresh, fun take on vampire romance. I’m especially interested in stories focusing on characters of color and diverse religious backgrounds.
- 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 fan.
- Ugly duckling/Cinderella-type heroines (or heroes for male/male)? Yes, please! I love seeing an under-appreciated wallflower get an HEA, in any genre.
- Historical and paranormal mysteries, especially if they have a cozy vibe.
- Non-office workplace romances. Think retail, libraries, coffee shops, schools/universities, and the like—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.
John Jacobson (they/them/Mx. or Mr.)
Romances with captivating characters and rich conflict make my heart flutter. I’m looking for romances that make me pull an all-nighter just to see how the characters finally get together. Couple that with snappy dialogue, characters who are confidently competent, and traditionally underrepresented identities to make a submission fit for me. I’m also looking for:
- Sexy romantic comedies with an atmosphere of uplifting the characters as opposed to using embarrassment for laughs. Show me how your characters fall in love with each other’s humor. Even subversive humor would be great. Think of the contemporary classics like 10 Things I Hate About Youfor an idea of what makes me giggle.
- LGBTQIA+ romances. Characters that are outside of the usual binary sexualities and genders are very welcome.
- Erotic romance that explores less-charted territory, such as femme Doms and masculine subs of all identities, with settings that go beyond sex clubs and dungeons.
- Subverted billionaire trope, where the billionaire checks their privilege. Heroines as the billionaire are my catnip.
- Historical romances that involve unique elements of history, such as journalism, politics, or personal identity, that can be just as applicable to present day conversations.
- Paranormal romance that goes beyond shifters and vampires. Witches? Demon slayers? Succubi? Bring ’em on.
- Friends-to-lovers, enemies-to-lovers — romances with characters that have a history. Make their history juicy and complicated so that every heightening of romantic tension makes me breathless for more. I want to believe these characters had reasons for not getting together before, and I want to root for them with wild abandon when they finally realize they’re meant-to-be.
- Historical romances with a dash of mystery. Focus on the romance as its own complete story, but bring in fleshed-out mystery elements that are a strong foil to the overall conflict and suspense.
- Fantasy romance with worlds that feel larger-than-life. Use this world to amp up the drama and refresh classic romance tropes so that readers feel at home, like in C.L. Wilson’s Weathermages of Mystral romance series.
Carrie Lofty (she/her/Ms.)
I love snappy dialogue, cheeky humor and a dry, sarcastic wit. 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. What is important to them? “High stakes” doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the world—although disaster romances are my catnip. I’m skewing heavily paranormal this season. On my wishlist:
- Halloween themes: resourceful human, ghoulish adversaries, outbreaks and epidemics, maniacal stalkers—and pressure-cooker attractions that emerge in the face of fear. Bring on October 2019!
- Realistic polyamory: romances that explore the complexities of love between more than two people. Angst is not a must.
- Lesbian romances: bonus points for rom coms and subgenres other than contemporary.
- Foreplay: slow burn romances of any genre that build to a hot, sexy payoff.
- Vampires with grit: I want to crush on Lestat all over again. How about a new take on old favorites? LGTBQ, #ownvoices, multicultural…
- Reconciliation romance: save a once-loving couple from disaster!
- Gentle bruisers: that big, imposing, scary mofo coming toward you in a dark alley? He’s an amazing lover and will make you breakfast just after he breaks some guy’s face.
- Historical m/m: any time period, and I’d be very intrigued if they include paranormal or fantasy elements.
- Dark homecomings: protagonist left in disgrace, went to war, sent to jail.
- Space pirates: soft sci-fi with lots of wit, action and great world-building, like Guardians of the Galaxy or Firefly, but with a snappy, sexy romance at its heart.
Kate Marope (she/her/Ms.)
I’m looking for pragmatic and competent characters who will do what needs doing. Characters who know what they want, and how to get it. I’m especially interested in LGBTQIA+ and multicultural protagonists from diverse backgrounds in both mystery and romance
- Fish-out-of-water protagonists with semi-trustworthy (but fundamentally good) guides to the new world or culture they find themselves in.
- Kresley Cole-esque virgin heroes
- Growly but low-key romantic heroes. The types who complain for the sake of complaining, but are secretly amused and will later surprise their lover (who thought he wasn’t listening) with what they wanted.
- Urban fantasy: give me f/m, m/m, or trans protagonists, intense clan politics and exquisite world building. Really looking for unusual creatures, settings or cultures. Maybe an UF When Dimple Met Rishi.
- Paranormal romance: high tension and conflict between fated mates, and unapologetic and unrepentant supernatural creatures. I would love a supernatural Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
- Contemporary Romance: I am a sucker for second chance, friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, partners to lovers, and relationships/marriages of convenience romances. Slow burns are a plus!
- Sweet but emotional LGBTQIA+ workplace romance in the style of Mary Calmes’ Marshals series.
- Military romance: I’m a long-time addict of Hawaii Five-0, so give me military personnel who still have their edge.
- Mysteries: Who- or whydunit police procedurals, thrillers, and psychological suspense, featuring former-criminal investigators who use their past life in crime to solve the mystery. Suppressed or rather-be-forgotten pasts are a definite plus.
Ronan Sadler (they/them/Mx.)
I love deeply character-driven stories that explore the interplay between boundaries and vulnerability, history and future, social context and personal desire. I’m drawn to immersive narrative voices and emotionally detailed settings. Romance is for everyone, and I would love to see #OwnVoices submissions across genre that reflect love in its many forms.Sexy romantic suspense with a paranormal or SFF twist, like Supernatural, Fringe, or the X-Files. A textured, immersive world is a huge plus here, and I’d really like something atmospheric, maybe almost noir-y or gothic. Series potential preferred.
- A caper with crackling sexual/romantic tension, especially if it’s F/F (think Ocean’s 8). High stakes, high tension, preferably high snark.
- Character-driven erotic romance with a distinct voice, especially if it pushes at questions of power, shame, desire, and vulnerability. I’m especially interested in erotic romances that don’t essentialize power roles and instead explore these dynamics.
- Tropes I love: arranged marriage or marriage of convenience, bodyguard/ward, fake dating. I’d love to see some these classic tropes starring characters who have been under-represented in the romance genre.
- Atmospheric paranormal with a strong sense of time and place. I especially want to see characters of color, disabled characters, fat characters, and trans characters starring in the genre. Particularly interested in paranormals with witches/magic users, fae, vampires, and shifter romance that examines what it means to have an unstable or changing bodily identity.
- Paranormal, urban fantasy, or SFF romance with twisty politics that hold our lovers apart, especially if there’s a component of duty to it.
- Sexy, gritty, character-driven contemporary that gives space for characters with difficult backstories to heal and find love. Not looking for angst for the sake of angst, but rather for emotional complexity and depth. High heat a bonus.
- Driven, maybe even ruthless heroines who don’t need to become softer and who are loved as they are, especially if they are forced to make morally complex choices. Think Cecilia Grant’s Lydia Slaughter, Megan Whalen Turner’s Irene Attolia, etc.
- Romantic leads who have complex histories: exes, best friends, rivals, work partners, or enemies.
Here’s a handy quick-view chart that gives you a look at which editors are acquiring in specific genres:
||Editors actively acquiring in genre
||Not acquiring in genre
||Kerri, Alissa, Deb, Mackenzie, Angela, John, Ronan, Carrie, Kate
||Kerri, Stephanie, Alissa, Deb, Mackenzie, Angela, John, Ronan, Carrie, Kate
||Alissa, Stephanie, Deb, Mackenzie, Angela, John, Ronan, Carrie, Kate
||Deb, Stephanie, Alissa, Angela, John, Ronan, Kate
||Alissa, Deb, Angela, John, Ronan, Carrie, Mackenzie, Kate
|Science fiction romance
||Alissa, Deb, Angela, Ronan, Carrie, Mackenzie
||Stephanie, Kerri, John, Kate
||Kerri, Stephanie, Alissa, Deb, Angela, John, Ronan, Carrie, Kate, Mackenzie
||Kerri, Alissa, Deb, Mackenzie, John, Ronan, Carrie,
||Stephanie, Angela, Kate
||Kerri, Deb, Mackenzie, John, Kate
||Stephanie, Alissa, Angela (except historical mystery), Ronan, Carrie
|**All editors are acquiring #OwnVoices and inclusive manuscripts across their listed genres**
||How to address your query
||They/them/Mx or Mr.
||Mx. or Mr. Jacobson
If you are not submitting to a specific editor, please address your query “Dear Editor.”