Why I Chose Carina Press For My Latest Release by Carrie Lofty
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Why I Chose Carina Press For My Latest Release by Carrie Lofty
My latest historical romance, SONG OF SEDUCTION (http://www.carrielofty.com/Song.html), was released by Carina Press (http://www.carinapress.com) this month as part of its June launch. I know that many writers and readers have had questions about Harlequin's brand new digital-first venture. While I can only speak for my experiences, I didn't come unprepared. I also dragged my lovely editor, Deborah Nemeth, to help give us her point of view too. Hopefully this post will be informative to anyone who's considering giving Carina a shot.
I submitted SONG OF SEDUCTION to Carina on its first day open for acquisitions. The tagline "Where no great story goes untold" really caught my attention. For three years I'd tried finding a good home for my Austrian-set historical romance. Editors loved my voice and the characters, but the Austrian setting was a deal-breaker. It wasn't erotic enough for most e-book retailers, either, so I'd set it aside as I worked to publicize my medieval adventure romances, WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS (http://www.carrielofty.com/WaSW.html) and SCOUNDREL'S KISS (http://www.carrielofty.com/SK.html).
But Carina seemed different. I respect Angela James, Carina's executive editor, for what she'd accomplished in making Samhain Publishing such a force among e-books. The idea of working with someone so determined and clever, and with the full weight of Harlequin at our backs to ensure the venture had a fighting chance, was too much to pass up. When Angela offered to acquire SONG OF SEDUCTION and make it part of the initial batch of Carina offerings for the June 7th launch, I was thrilled.
Working with Deborah Nemeth was also a thrill. She adored my story, which had so long been overlooked because of its unusual setting. Her editorial direction helped resolve a few pesky places that had been bugging me for ages. The romance is stronger because of her input.
During the run-up to the launch, Carina authors and the entire production staff were in near-constant contact. I've worked directly with our publicity guru and our reviews coordinator. I was invited to give feedback on SONG OF SEDUCTION's absolutely beautiful cover. And on a monthly basis, Carina holds a company-wide teleconference where authors are kept upt-do-date with current promo and social networking opportunities, and where all of our questions are answered on the spot. To say that this fosters a sense of team spirit is an understatement.
To be honest, there's no telling how well all of this will go. Carina Press is, at its heart, an experiment. But they've taken a chance on my story and given me the tools to make it a success. At the moment I can't ask for more.
Now I'll turn it over to Deb!
Q: Why Carina?
A: I was thrilled to become one of Carina Press's developmental editors. Harlequin is one of the savviest digital publishers out there, and as one of their imprints, Carina Press is fortunate to have a production team with members who have up to ten years of digital experience. I like working for smart people from whom I can continue to learn and grow, and you don't get much sharper than Angela James, our executive editor.
And as much as I love romance, I enjoy having the freedom to acquire and edit in any genre, from straight mysteries and SFF to love stories that don't have a traditional romance structure/ending. Carina gives authors this same freedom from genre constraints while enabling them to benefit from Harlequin's publishing expertise.
Q: What types of manuscripts are you interested in acquiring?
A: I want to see strong, flawed characters who are passionate about their goals. I like stories to take off from the first page and mount to a grand finale, engaging my emotions, although with a mystery the engagement may be more cerebral. I acquire all heat levels from sweet to erotica, all lengths over 15k words. I'm open to most genres--anything but young adult, inspirational or super-gory horror (but there are other Carina Press editors who'll love to read your inspy or horror ms).
I accept direct submissions. Send your query in the body of an email and attach a full, polished ms and synopsis in .rtf or .doc files to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What makes you fall in love with a submission from a new author?
A: More than anything, I'm excited by an author's voice. Voice is hard to describe; it's one of those I-know-it-when-I-see-it things. It's the way a writer expresses herself/himself, encompassing perspective, attitude, rhythm, word choice and personality.
But voice alone won't do it. I have to love the main characters and be drawn into their interior lives enough to care about their goals. The conflict must be well-structured, grab me from the first page and carry me through until the end. The story has to have a black moment in which I can't figure out how the protagonists can possibly overcome the odds. Stories that make me laugh and cry are more likely to stick with me. If the submission has all that and a kickass premise, there's a good chance that lightning will strike.
Q: What are the most common reasons you reject manuscripts?
A: Lack of voice, lack of conflict and sluggish pacing.
Q: How can an author improve her chances of acquisition?
A: Show don't tell. Don't tell me your character is nervous, show me that she's fidgeting or worrying her lip or glancing over her shoulder every few steps. Instead of stuffing your first scenes with exposition, allow us to get to know your heroes in action. Draw your characters large-than-life and give them insurmountable obstacles and setbacks--make them suffer and then make sure things get worse. Write tightly, begin and end each scene with hooks, and make sure there's some type of tension on every page.
About Carrie Lofty:
Born in California and raised in the Midwest, Carrie Lofty (http://www.carrielofty.com) met her English husband while studying abroad--the best souvenir! Since completing her master's degree in history, she's been devoted to raising their two precocious daughters, managing Unusual Historicals (http://unusualhistoricals.blogspot.com), and writing romance. Also, look for her "Dark Age Dawning" trilogy of hot-n-dirty apocalyptic romances, co-written with Ann Aguirre under the name Ellen Connor (http://www.ellenconnor.com). Nightfall kicks it off in June 2011, available from Berkley Sensation. You can catch up with Carrie on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/carrielofty) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarrieLofty).
About Deborah Nemeth:
Since Deborah Nemeth began reading before her fourth birthday and stops only when she absolutely has to, it was probably inevitable that she would major in English literature and eventually become an editor, a profession she's pursued for five years. As an utter bookslut, she loves to read all sorts of things, from SFF to mysteries to historical romance. Over the years she's lived in Ohio, Michigan, Chicago and Puerto Rico, although she spends most of her time in places such as nineteenth-century Bath or Middle-earth. Currently she lives in the Mid-Atlantic with her husband (a candidate for sainthood) and two beautiful daughters. You may follow her on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/DebNemeth).