Happy new year to all! Here is what I'll be looking for in 2016:
To be a bit more specific:
I've been getting quite a few submission that don't have strong romantic elements. This is a MUST for City Owl. I've also been getting YA. There are great publishers out there who publish YA, we are NOT one of them. No YA. The level of romantic element all depends on the story, as does the heat level. At City Owl we publish all heat levels except for all out erotica (at this time). Strong, clean (grammar) writing, with great characters (who ARC), great world-building, and enough description to put me there, are what I look for in each manuscript. To break the sex part down, sex that moves the plot is fine, but it must not be the plot.
In Steampunk: Inventive, unique, with strong world-building and great character arcs will grab my attention. Outside of Victorian London is a plus. This is always at the top of my list. I've signed a great steampunk author so the bar is high. Bring your A game.
In Dystopian: Originality is key. Vampire and zombie apocalypses have been done to death, as has corrupt governments, so if you have something different, I want to read it! But, if it involves zombies or vampires and is outstanding, I'll still consider it.
Science Fiction: While I'll take hard sci-fi (centers on ideas and plausible tech), it has to blow me away and have great characters, military, slip-stream, space-opera (my favorite), and cyberpunk, send it my way. No time travel unless it is outstanding. Write something Whedonesque? For the love of Joss, send it my way (as long as it fits the aforementioned romance criteria).
Fantasy: I love epic but it has to be original, strong writing, and character driven. Write another sub-genre of fantasy? Try me. Again, romantic elements are a must.
Paranormal: I want something unique, not just your run of the mill vampire or werewolf story that has been told a million times over. Bring on the ghosts and other paranormals! But if you have a really original werewolf or vampire story, send it my way. Again, romantic elements are a must.
Historical: I will look at a limited amount of historical romance so long as the setting or time in history catches my interest. Got a good strong romance set somewhere or sometime interesting? Send it my way.
I'll stress again, because it keeps getting missed: All submissions must be for adults and have romantic elements. If your polished work matches any of the descriptions above, feel free to query me directly at: hmccorkle (at) cityowlpress (dot) com. Please include a query and the first ten pages pasted into the body of the email. No attachments until I ask for them! Best of luck!