Submission call from me! (something I rarely do anymore)

So Carina Press keeps me pretty busy on the admin (and travel, omg, the travel!) side of things and it doesn’t leave me a lot of time for editing. I still do some editing, but it’s generally not much more than one or two novels a year, and then the holiday novella collections. I almost never acquire from slush anymore but…

I’m looking to acquire a few things for my own schedule for Fall 2012.

Here’s what I’m specifically looking for:

A contemporary romance trilogy or series. I love editing Shannon Stacey’s books and I want to edit more contemporary romance, so I’m looking to acquire an author who has a contemporary romance trilogy or series planned. Any heat level considered! I’m specifically looking for contemporary romance novels (over 70k) but will consider a novella series (for novellas, even better if they’re erotic, but not necessary)

A new paranormal romance (or urban fantasy w/romantic elements) series. The good news for you is that I’ll consider all manner of paranormal, including vampires, shifters, etc. I’m not wore out on paranormal, so hit me with your A-game, even if it’s a vampire series! Again, any heat level considered.

A very, very hot erotic romance series. Smokin’ hot. Any subgenre, any length. Can be BDSM or m/m. Just looking for smokin’ hot erotic romance (not erotica, please).

So the trend here is that I’m looking for an author/authors I can build within a series in these particular genres. I’m not looking for standalone novels or novellas for this particular submissions call for myself (though Carina Press is always willing to and does acquire standalones).

If you have something now, or in the coming weeks/months that fits the bill, please follow the submissions guidelines here, and send to the submissions address. However, please note in the body of your query letter that you’re responding to my specific call for submissions (many subs come in addressed to me, so I won’t know, just based on that, that you’re responding to this call).

Edit: I’ve had some questions about subbing an idea or partial. Carina Press submission guidelines require a full manuscript and so do I, unless we’ve worked together before, or you have an established history of publishing quality work, and you have an established author brand, in which case, I’d consider a proposal/partial w/thorough synopsis.

Don’t count on being a Cinderella story

Last week agent Rachelle Gardner had a guest post from one of her authors. The post is a great one, about what happens when you receive edits–after your book has been contracted. You should read it, it has wonderful things to say. But in the course of the post I read this:

The story had been re-written and revised much already, but I’ll be honest: many of the suggested changes were things I’d secretly feared were needed. I had tried to work them out and finally concluded that it would take far too much work; they were impossible to fix. The story would just have to do. I’d pitched the book, hoping someone would take pity on the little waif and love it in spite of a few flaws.

Blinding Truth Alert: Since the book and I were contracted with an agent (YAY!!), it was now my job—my duty—to fix those impossible flaws. Uh . .

The reason this part caught my eye is because I hear this quite a bit from authors. They’ve gotten feedback, maybe that dreaded contest feedback we talked about last week, feedback from a critique partner, or beta reader. Maybe feedback from an editor they won a critique from, or an editor who rejected their manuscript or suggested revisions. Either way, they’ve gotten this feedback but they decided “it would take far too much work” to fix and they were going to let the book be as is, and hope someone loved it anyway.

It’s clear that this can work out just fine, as it did for the author of this post, but for the most part, don’t count on yours being the Cinderella story, with the HEA coming despite seemingly insurmountable problems or flaws, having your Prince (or Princess) Charming find you and choose you, even if your manuscript looks like a frog (I’m totally mixing my fairy tales, sue me) . In today’s world of publishing, budgets are getting tighter, staff is being streamlined, and editors are being called on to do much, much more than just edit. Often editing doesn’t even take place during the editor’s normal work hours, but at home, in the evenings, and on weekends. In other words, many editors are more and more looking for production-ready manuscripts that don’t need significant changes or revisions. They have to be vehemently passionate about a story to take on one that’s going to mean more hours and weekends at home spent editing.

I think the Blinding Truth Alert in the post should have actually read that it was the author’s job to fix those impossible flaws…before the book was ever contracted. This time, it worked out, but not every author can expect that same happy ending. Publishing is hard work. I think, in some ways, it gets harder for authors–especially aspiring authors or midlist authors–every day. It’s not enough to just write the book. You have to love it and you have to work at getting it published, which includes getting critiques, listening to feedback, and yep, doing what might seem impossible (or undesirable) and fixing even what you might not have previously wanted to fix. Don’t count on Prince(ss) Charming (in the form of an editor or agent) to rescue your manuscript from its warts . Use your magic keyboard to get rid of them yourself, and create your own happy ending.

The view from the other side of the desk

(Edited to add: This is a guest post written by Shannon Stacey)

You’ve seen the view from the Executive Editor of Samhain’s side of the desk here, but I thought today I’d give you a glimpse of the view from the other side. What’s it like, as an author, to go through the editing process? I’ve done it eight times, so I’ll give you a quick overview and then I’ll offer up a few specifics that might help if you’re thinking of submitting to Samhain.

(Obligatory caveat: Angie has been my editor throughout all my contracts with Samhain. Other editors may do things differently, plus the working relationship between an editor and each of her authors varies. Therefore your mileage will, as well.)

FOREVER AGAIN was published in January of 2006 (it was one of Samhain’s four launch titles), which means we probably started the editing process in the fall of 2005, therefore Angie has been my editor for almost four years. I’m not really sure how she feels about that…

Anyway. I’m a fairly clean writer, so our process is generally two rounds of edits and a round of final line edits.

Round One: Oh my achin’ ass. These hurt. The comments in the documents (edits are done electronically through track changes) are scary enough, but it’s the general impression in the body of the email that really makes you cry. This is where you hear your hero’s a flaming asshole or your secondary guy (and future hero) is a little creepy. Maybe you didn’t develop the romantic arc clearly enough on the page so the HEA isn’t believable. Or the dreaded I just don’t love it. In the document there are cheerful little speech bubbles pointing out plot holes and awkward sentences and timeline issues and pet words and…just about everything a writer can possibly do wrong in a book.

Round Two: With the heavy lifting out of the way, this usually seems a little easier, but the magnifying glass is out for the fine tuning and a thousand little errors need to be fixed. Okay, not a thousand. (Well, again, your mileage may vary.) If there was a large issue that required substantial rewriting, those sections will be edited and there’s the question of whether it effected other parts of the story.

In both rounds, commas are fought for and typos are fixed. Issues are hashed out. For two books in a row, Angie and I went ’round and ’round about the capitalization of Navy. I lost in both cases. I’ve learned through almost Pavlovian conditioning to trust Angie’s judgement. When I disregard her suggestion, the reviews criticize that element. When I implement a change she suggested, the reviews love that element. Seriously.

Once the book’s edited within an inch of its life, it goes to…Final Line Edits: This is a crucial step in the book’s process and, though I stet a lot of issues dealing with voice and such, I’m always blown away by the number of things the final line editors catch. Usually syntax/grammar/spelling/typos and such, but they’ll also speak up if they think a comment needs to be made. The FLE for NO SURRENDER questioned the clarity of an event from 72 HOURS that’s mentioned, as well as commenting on the timeline of the ending.

Just for fun, here are my five favorite editorial comments from Angie:

5. Is this a word?
4. Something about this sentence just isn’t right.
3. Hello run-on sentence!
2. I don’t think this is a word.
1. This sentence is just kind of…ugly.

If you’re thinking about submitting to Angie, there are a few things you can do to help ensure your manuscript doesn’t make her do something rash. Like running off to Las Vegas, where she’ll stand around on the street sucking down suspiciously disguised beverages, for example.

10 Things You Might Want to Doublecheck in Your Manuscript Before Subbing to Angela James:

1. Make sure none of your adverb adjective combos or whatever they’re called are hyphenated. (“Softly-mounded” for example.) I keep putting them in, she keeps taking them out.

2. Be certain, especially in love scenes, that none of your characters’ body parts are autonomous. Hands and eyes that go a’roaming remind her of Thing from The Addam’s Family. Funny, but not so much with the sexy.

3. Check, doublecheck and triplecheck your timelines. She bags me every single time I convince myself nobody will catch a timeline glitch. They’re one of her “things”.

4. If you’re one of those writers who fires off a draft, figuring you’ll polish it up if she accepts it because that’s what editors are for, you might want to submit to a different editor. At a different publisher.

5. Watch for a lot of thens and and thens. I’m especially guilty of this synopsis-like construction during love scenes and fight scenes—scenes that I’m heavily choreographing in my head and trying to translate onto the page. (Yes, the following comment exchange is for two paragraphs in a love scene and there were more on the page. Ouch.)

6. Pronoun confusion. Make sure every one of your pronouns clearly belongs to the character/item/whatever it’s supposed to. Angie’s very hung up on pronoun clarity. Also— Reflexive pronouns. Umm…I’m still not sure what that even means. Certain usages of himself or herself, for example, will earn an editorial handslap. Since I don’t quite get this rule, I just write and then change it when she points it out. Better for you, though, if you do it right.

7. The dreaded ECHO. I’m not sure how an author can really check for this other than reading very, very thoroughly, but using the same word too often too close together is a common author quirk and a common editorial comment. If you can get rid of this, you’re that much cleaner. She has some kind of magic Repetition Radar.

8. Make sure modifying phrases are modifying the correct subject. This is HUGE with Angie. Another of her “things”.

9. Don’t give a lot of characters names beginning with the same letter. She’ll notice. And right now you might want to avoid naming all of your characters “C” names because…well, just because. (A little inside tidbit from NO SURRENDER: The young woman the DG has to rescue will always be named Claire in my heart. In the book it’s…something else. Isabel? Isabella? Something that doesn’t start with a C.)

10. The standard warning to avoid starting multiple paragraphs with the same word, whether it be a name, the or and. And watch the junk words—just, so, that. She hit FOREVER AGAIN so hard on my “that” usage, I still shudder to remember the edits. I think it took several books for her to break me of that habit. Do a find on “that” and challenge every single one.

As a matter of fact, she was rather traumatized the first time she had to ADD “that” to one of my books. I, of course, gloated.

Okay, if you made it all the way through that overly-long post, comment to enter to win a DIGITAL book from my backlist! Ask a question if you’ve got one or make a comment or just say hi and at 9:00 am est Friday Sunday I’ll randomly draw a winner!

Call for submissions: Angels and Demons anthology

Since I’m no longer with Samhain, I’ve deleted this call. If you want to submit an angel or demon story to me, I’d love to see them, any length, any heat level. It broke my heart to leave this anthology behind. You can send them to me at Quartet Press: submissions@quartetpress.com

Informal call for submissions

Sometimes I put out an anthology call and I’m going to be doing one of those very soon, but in asking for ideas for my next anthology, I realized I would have liked to have gotten some holiday novellas. Historically, I have saved my December release spots for novellas, often erotic romance novellas and generally holiday-themed novellas. In the past, authors from within my “stable” of authors have provided these novellas but only one has indicated any interest this year so I’m putting out an informal call for submissions.

If you have a holiday-themed novella you’ve been working on, something that’s completed (or soon to be completed) I’d love to see it. Visit our submissions page for all submission information, including the email address to send it to. All questions about this should be directed to the submissions email, please don’t use my contact form here for questions related to this. I will also answer questions in the comments, as well.

In the query letter that accompanies your submission, please note that you’re responding to my request for holiday-themed novellas.

I’ll probably be looking to have those books contracted and scheduled no later than the end of July.

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