Petit Fours » A group blog of authors writing in different genres

Masthead header

Angela James of Carina Press


 Joining us today is Executive Editor for Carina Press, Angela James.  I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Angela when she did an informative presentation for the Southern Magic Chapter of RWA in Birmingham, Alabama.  Angela managed to graciously dispel all of my misconceptions about a digital first press and ultimately left me wondering which of my stories might be a fit for Carina Press.

Angela, what’s the biggest life change for you since joining Carina Press?

Oh, this is a hard question. It would probably have to be increased travel, and especially increased travel out of country, since my team and my desk are at the Harlequin offices in Toronto. The other thing is that I spend a LOT more time on the phone, working for Harlequin. But I consider any changes that have come about as a result of joining Carina to be positive ones. I don’t have a single complaint!

Angela, you blog regularly at two different sites right now: Your personal blog, and Carina Press blog,  Until recently, it was three with the wonderful craft blog Whipped Out.  Obviously you’ve had to draw the line somewhere on the issue of only having so many hours in a day.  How do you still manage to produce content on two sites while overseeing Carina and having a family?  Any organizational hints you can give us?                                                                                                                      

Well, I don’t always do everything well, if we’re being honest. As you said, I oversee my blog and Carina’s blog, but not only that, I oversee both my own social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, blog, website) but also Carina’s social media (Twitter, blog, Facebook) and there are days when I simply don’t have the creative energy for all of those. In the past months, I’ve kept up with my personal Twitter, but otherwise my focus has been on Carina. It’s only recently that I’ve really started to try and re-energize my personal blog.  (See the bottom of this post for all links to social media)

As for organizational hints, you’re right, there are so many hours in the day, but if I’m being honest, I don’t work just an 8-hour work day. My husband would be the first to point this out. And I don’t turn off my brain very well on weekends, either. But I still have to be organized—and motivated—during the main hours of my work day and stay focused. I work from home, so this is even more challenging, but over the years I’ve learned to make lists, understand my deadlines, triage my priorities and be completely aware of what needs to be done—and then work to get it done. Daily, and weekly, I have tasks that I set for myself that need to be accomplished before I can be “done”. And there is always something waiting behind. The trick is to know that this is what I’m being paid to do, this is my business, and it’s got to be a priority!

I saw an author recently very positively reference having had the “Angela James Treatment” on one of my loops.  Care to explain just what that might be?

Ha! I have no idea, you’ll have to ask the author. Fortunately, my ego isn’t quite large enough for me to coin that sort of phrase for myself;)I hope you’ll tell me if you find out!

What is the biggest misconception you have to battle about a digital first press?

That digital-first books are all poor quality, that all digital-first presses take anything that’s submitted and that they’re only being published by a digital-first press because a traditional press rejected them. I can’t even tell you the number of people who tell me how surprised they are by the quality of the stories they’ve discovered they can get from some digital-presses.

Let me say that I like the straightforward guidelines on Carina’s submission page.  ( )When I read it, I have no confusion about exactly what you want.  That’s refreshing because some sites fail to consolidate the details and leave you feeling like you’re on a website treasure hunt.  Once you get the submission, what’s the process at Carina and what seems to be the average timeline on submitted materials?

I’m going to put what can be a bit of a lengthy process into abbreviated steps.

  1. Submission comes in
  2. I check that submission is complete and forward to a freelance editor
  3. Editor reads it and gives an initial report (on anything from one page to 3 chapters)
  4. If editor wants to continue reading past initial report, editor then reads full.
  5. Editor recommends either acquisition/rejection/revise & resubmit
  6. If rejection is recommended, I send rejection letter to author. If revisions are requested, editor sends letter to author
  7. If acquisition is recommended, I present editor’s report to acquisitions team at our weekly meeting.
  8. At least one team member will read it and report back their recommendation within one to two weeks. If team member has questions about it, a second team member reads it.
  9. Manuscript is either recommended for acquisition, rejection or revise & resubmit.

As you can see, our process has checks & balances, for quality control, so it does take usually take us a minimum of 4-6 weeks in the process, once the submission has been assigned. Since I assign them to editors in order they come into the inbox, for the most part, that can tack on another 4-6 weeks, so response time is around 12-16 weeks.

Is there any one most common mistake you see with submissions?

Submitting a manuscript that’s not ready to be submitted because the author doesn’t take the time to polish it—including time to let it “sit” and come back to it with fresh eyes.

Okay, just for fun:

Who/What’s on your eBook shelf to be read?

I just got done reading a lot of really good books, so I’ve been re-reading some old favorites the past few days. But once I jump back in to reading new books again, I have Cold Magic by Kate Elliot, Lying Eyes by Amy Atwell (a Carina Press book), Wolfsbane by Patricia Briggs and Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews.

If you were a character in a book, what genre would Angela James most likely find herself in and why?

 Hopefully I’d be in a fabulous western space opera, with someone like the amazing  Captain Tightpants (err…I mean my husband—just in case he’s reading this and thinks I mean Nathan Fillion..I would NEVER…) and we’d be traveling among the stars, dragging each galaxy to the digital dark side, one reader at a time.

Will you share one of your wonderful recipes with us?

I would love to. Since the holidays are coming up, and nothing goes with romance better than chocolate, I’m going to share my Cracker “Candy” recipe. You can find the entire recipe on my blog, complete with pictures, my chatter about the recipe and comments from people who have made this, but trust me when I say you’ll be amazed at how easy it is, and how surprisingly good.

Cracker Candy

35-40 Saltines

2 sticks of salted butter -do NOT use margarine

1/4 cup sugar

1 bag of milk (or semi or dark) chocolate morsels

Sliced almonds or any other nuts (optional)

Line cookie sheet with foil (sides too). Lay saltines side by side in one layer, sides touching. Melt butter, add sugar and boil 3 minutes. Drizzle over crackers, (keep crackers together). Bake 5 minutes @ 400°. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate over baked crackers. They will start to melt – spread over crackers. Sprinkle top with nuts. Refrigerate until cold, even overnight. Break into pieces.

If you’d like to see a list of recipes on my blog, you can find them all here:

Angela, thanks for being with us today.  I’m posting links below for those who want to follow both you and Carina Press more closely.

For Angela: 

For Carina Press:


[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by katie, Noelle Pierce. Noelle Pierce said: PFaHT says: Angela James of Carina Press –  Joining us today is Executive Editor for Carina Press, Angela James.  I … […]

Dianna Love - September 29, 2010 - 6:43 am

Welcome Angela. Congratulations on launching Carina Press. I hear great things about you and CP all the time. In addition to being under the Harlequin umbrella that comes with a stamp of respect, I knew you were publishing quality writing when I saw some of the first books released. I’ve been a fan of Kelly Parra’s voice and writing for a while and loved Criminal Instinct. Looking forward to her next one. Hope Tarr is another wonderful author I’m familiar with and I’m waiting on Amy Atwell’s debut book. You’re doing a great job of dispelling preconceived notions about e-published books.

Question – What type of marketing do you do for CP books besides blogs? What have you found works best for getting a new e-pub book in front of readers?

Tamara destefano - September 29, 2010 - 7:24 am

Great post Angela!
And congrats on Carina. Like Dianna, Ive heard great things about you guys too.
I’m also glad you mentioned that e-pubs can and do have high quality work being turned out. I was just contracted by Liquid Silver Books and I’d like to think they chose my novel because it was well written and compelling.
There are a great many e-pubs out there that don’t meet the high standards of the NY presses, but there are also a lot of them that turn out excellent work. And Carina is no exception.
Thanks for the recipe, by the way. Sounds yummilicious!!
And thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to post. I got a lot out of it.
Have a great day!

Debbie Kaufman - September 29, 2010 - 7:37 am

Welcome, Angela! Thanks for the great recipe and all the wonderful information on digital first. Since my DH doesn’t read the blog, got to say I can really relate to the whole space cowboy thing :)

Maxine - September 29, 2010 - 8:21 am


I, too, was in the audience at B’ham. You gave an informative talk about e-publishing. Carina Press is very well known. I appreciate the guidelines. I’m going over my work to see what I could submit to CP e-pub.

Thank you for taking time from your hectic schedule to join us at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales.

Tami Brothers - September 29, 2010 - 8:55 am

Great information! I have heard bits and pieces about Carina Press but have not gotten into it any deeper than that. You’ve given us a lot of great information and I will definitely be checking you guys out further.

Thanks for blogging here today, Angela!


Wynter Daniels - September 29, 2010 - 9:06 am

Good interview. I’d guess the “Angela James” treatment has something to do with Angela’s high level of professionalism. As a soon-to-be-published-with-Carina author, I’ve been so impressed with that level of professionalism. From my first contact with Angela to the contract process, all my dealings with my editor, everything has gone exactly as it should.

Liz Fichera - September 29, 2010 - 9:45 am

As one of the Carina Press launch authors, I can tell you that working with Carina has been the kind of positive experience every writer dreams about. From submissions to editing to cover art to promotions–the entire Carina Press team is nothing short of exceptional.

Shirley Wells - September 29, 2010 - 9:50 am

As a proud Carina Press author, I still get tingles reading about the acquisition process. :)

I’ve had five mystery novels published in print format and chose to offer the first in a new series to Carina Press. Why? Because anything connected with Harlequin and anything with Angela James at the helm is going to be exceptional. I feel so insulted when people suggest digital-first is somehow inferior. Thanks to Angela and the team at Carina Press, the wonderful authors contracted and the readers, that myth is being dispelled!

Right, I’m off to try out that recipe. It has chocolate. It has to be a winner, yes? :)

Carol Burnside - September 29, 2010 - 12:14 pm

I was in your the Carina Press spotlight at Nat’l and plan to send CP something soon. Keep up the good work. I appreciate that you’re bringing a quality product to digital-first for others to emulate.

Kelly Lynn Parra - September 29, 2010 - 12:41 pm

Great to see you on a wonderful blog, Angela!! You really amaze me with all the hard work you put in on the net and with Carina Press. The entire team is wonderful and I’m so glad to be part of a wonderful e-press!

Thank you, Dianna, for the shout out! I have been amazed by so many of the entertaining stories pubbed by CP!

Sally Kilpatrick - September 29, 2010 - 1:12 pm

Angela, thanks for coming by. I really hate that I missed the B’ham one day, and I love reading your tweets.

I had a question about fiction with alternate endings–do you have any good examples you could recommend? Also, are there any types of stories you need more than others?


Elaine - September 29, 2010 - 2:38 pm

Welcome Angela! Great Q&A today.

My question is — so many times women’s fiction is combined with romance. Do you see them as separate genres and markets, or a combo of both? What about women’s fiction that does not have romance, but perhaps has a paranormal element?

Thanks for being on PFHT today!


Walt M - September 29, 2010 - 2:45 pm


On the Carina Press Blog recently, one of your editors, Rhonda S., commented that she would “…kill to find a great samurai or ninja romance–seriously!”

I have a samurai romance that I’m polishing. However, my manuscript is also an inspirational. Is Carina Press looking for inspirational books as well?

Angela James - September 29, 2010 - 3:43 pm

Thank you to the ladies of the blog for hosting me. I’m so sorry I didn’t make it over to the comment section earlier today! Thank you so much to everyone who gave such fabulous shout outs to me personally and Carina as a whole. I know I am very much the public face of Carina Press but there is an amazing team beside me, without whom Carina would not exist!

@Dianna Love: We have a dedicated marketing team and they are always, along with other members of the team, looking at and brainstorming new marketing ideas. We do advertisement on blogs and websites, and in print medium like RT mag, RWR magazine and Publisher’s Weekly. We utilize social media and also give our authors tools to market and promote in person and online.

If I told you what I’ve found works for new epubs, I’d be giving away my secrets ;)

Angela James - September 29, 2010 - 3:46 pm

@Sally I don’t actually know of any good fiction with alternate endings! That was a genre that we thought would be fun to explore and see if we could get someone to write. We’ve had a few submissions and hopefully we’ll find a good one!

@Elaine I’ve found some writers seem to be calling their romances women’s fiction for some reason? But I definitely think that women’s fiction exists outside of romance, and yes, wouldn’t have to be straight contemporary, could be paranormal.

@Walt We will consider inspirational. Truthfully, we have gotten very few submissions in that genre, and haven’t actively sought them, but we will consider them!

I hope I got all of the questions. Please let me know if I missed any or if you have more!

Lauren Dane - September 29, 2010 - 3:58 pm

Haha! The Angela James treatment means she kicks your butt in edits to push you to put out the best book you can. She makes me laugh, makes me think and sometimes she spanks me when I mess up. I’m so glad for it.

Angela has been my editor at two houses. I trust her eye and I know she’ll always tell me if I have spinach in my writing teeth. She is one of the best examples of why digital first publishing has so much going for it.

Eleri Stone - September 29, 2010 - 4:13 pm

I wasn’t the author who mentioned the “Angela James treatment” on the loop but I can answer that one, I think. As an editor,she’s thorough, professional, sets clear expectations and is very good at pointing out the weak spots in a manuscript without making it sting (too much :wink: )….I’m another author who has loved working w/ Carina. And check out the great covers!

Tia Nevitt - September 29, 2010 - 4:25 pm

What a surprise to see my cover here! Permit me to join the chorus in saying that the editorial team at Carina Press is fabulous! And Angela, those cracker candies sound just sinful.

Linsey Lanier - September 29, 2010 - 6:44 pm

Welcome to all the wonderful newcomers we have to the blog today! So many Carina authors. Gives me the chills.

And thanks, Angela, for being with us and providing such great information. I’m working on something I hope to submit to Carina soon — after that requisite “sitting” time you mentioned. :) I’m more excited about it than ever after reading your post.

F O L L O W   U S
R E C E N T   T W E E T S