Please note: I am currently seeking works between 50,000 to 68,000 words, give or a take a little (nothing over 69,000, and nothing under 48,000).Here are some of my likes and dislikes for submissions that come to me for consideration for City Owl Press (many of which are not relevant for my freelance work). If you are submitting to me, please read all the way through them to make sure I am right for you:
Adult audience focused. We do NOT publish young adult or middle grade. Your novel must be for adults. If it is not, don't submit it to me.
Strong characters regardless of gender
They don't have to start out strong, they can and should build up to it.
Yes you can have both this and a strong character.
Readers need to be able to relate to them in some way, even if its small.
Whether it's the writer, the characters' sexual orientation, culture, or otherwise.
Unique or interesting settings, or stories where settings are important to the plot
Foreign country, interesting town, bring them on!
Third person past tense
Not passive writing, past tense. There's a difference. If you aren't sure what that difference is, you may need to do a bit more building of your craft before submitting to me.
Well polished work with attention to grammar
It shows your professionalism and dedication to your craft. And, there is a LOT of competition out there, so you need to rise above them. This is one way to show you are prepared.
Unique spins, creatures, points of view, etc.
Strong, well developed romance that builds organically
I'm not a fan of insta-love. Yes, love at first site exists, but you must write it convincingly if that's what you're going for.
Writers who do their research
Know my likes, dislikes, genre length preferences, etc, follow submission guidelines. You are off to a great start reading this.
Writers who strive to improve their craft
Can't afford conferences or workshops? No problem, read, read, read! Both in your genre, and craft books on writing.
Writers who are already working on their author platform
A strong social media presence is a must now days. You don't have to be present on all sites. In fact, it's better if you pick a few, or one, that works for you and connect with readers and other writers through it.
Series, Tie-In Books
While a single novel can sell well, authors with multiple books out sell better. Readers want to know an author will produce before they really commit to them. Whether those books are tie-in books, a series, or just several books doesn't matter.
Was, were, had. Sometimes it's necessary to use it, more often, it is not. The rule of thumb for me is: the less you use it, the better. It takes the reader out of the action, the here and now.
True, some feel it is "voice" or "style", I am not among them. If you fancy using incomplete sentences, I am not the editor for you. When used infrequently, they can be good, powerful, but when overused as is common, they lose that impact. If you sign with me, expect to have 99% of your incomplete sentences edited out.
Excessive Adverbs or Adjectives
Particularly as tags on the end of dialogue. Don't do this. It's lazy. Rather than modify or qualify your adverb or adjective to express a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, or degree, it is better to use a more powerful adverb or adjective in the first place. Or, you need better phrasing or lead up to it.
Talking to the Reader:
Narrator-type writing where the author talks direclty to the reader. This takes the reader out of the story, separates them from it rather than allows them to imagine they are the hero or heroine.
Omniscient Point of View
Where you aren't in any one character's point of view, but rather an outside point of view that sees them all. Think the Dune series by Frank Herbert. Yes, a masterful storyteller can pull it off. But it is not for us at City Owl Press.
Unlikable/unrelatable characters (protangonists and supporting)
Unless its the antagonist, of course. They should be unlikable.
Lack of attention to plot detail
Gaping holes that should have been caught in your editing rounds. This also includes not following submission guidelines.
Sloppy drafts or non-standard formatting
Something that shows you didn't edit thoroughly or are trying to make the work standout with font, format, etc..
Cliques or re-tellings
Unless they poke fun at themselves, or are brilliant and original in their own way.
First person present tense
I like first person when its done well, but third is my preference. Present tense has to be brilliantly done or I won't even consider it.
Flashbacks, info dump, and backstory
These can be used, but there is a time and place. Read through my posts for specifics on these.
Your bad guy/gal needs to be interesting and well-developed.
Lack of action, tension, or elements to drive the plot forward
This is a big one. There are genres out there that allow for a slower pace, those I acquire are not them. That doesn't mean your book can't have slower areas within it. It can and should, but it must always leave the reader needing to turn the page to find something out or see what happens to someone.
On the page rape, or "open door" rape scenes
Yes, I know, you still see this in some books, not those I acquire. If there is rape in your novel, it must be integral to the plot, and it must not be graphically written.