I’m Amanda Jean, acquisitions editor at Less Than Three Press. LT3 was founded in 2009 by Megan Derr, Samantha Derr, and Sasha L. Miller, three women who wanted to see queer romance done their way—which means affordable, engaging, high-quality stories with happy endings. I joined LT3 in early 2013 as a developmental and line editor, and as of 2017 I primarily handle acquisitions for the press; generally, I’m the first person who reads your story. (I promise I don’t bite!)
I co-host and produce the queer romance and media podcast The Hopeless Romantic with Austin Chant. My other gigs include editing for Ylva Publishing and Bella Books, and I’m the LGBT Director at Alternating Current as well as an Articles Editor over at Strange Horizons. In my spare time, I play a lot of Overwatch, watch documentaries, pine for Korean BBQ, and read a bunch of speculative fiction. I’m trying to finish a manuscript for self-publication this October—and so far, it involves a lot of messy notes in my bullet journal and persistent low-grade panic.
2) What are the top things you look for in a manuscript?
Awareness of the genre. Clear conflicts. Satisfying character journeys. Snappy dialog. Stories that aren’t contemporary cis white m/m, which tend to dominate the genre. Speculative elements.
I’m on the aroace spectrum, and I’ve been looking for manuscripts—Own Voices especially—that tackle aromantic and asexual relationships within the same structure and beats of a typical romance. Not every ace or aro story will work within those constraints, obviously, but I’m psyched to see the ones that do. Fairytale retellings about ace people? Awesome. Gritty sci-fi with aro humans and allo robots? Give it to me. Queerplatonic or other platonic relationships in fantastic, compelling settings and situations? You just made my month. (I also like horror, aliens, historical including Gaslamp fantasy, enemies-to-lovers, and basically every trope that’s ever hoved into my field of vision.)
3) What are the biggest turn-offs when you read a submission?
A lack of a hook or inciting incident in the first chapter or so. First-person present-tense POV. Lack of a clear character journey. A story populated by all white people, or all men—or women and POC who are relegated to stereotypes and villains. There’s nothing sadder than a great premise with some awful stereotype, like a malicious, scheming ex-girlfriend. Gay for you (though I love a story about personal discovery and bisexual awakenings!). Slurs in the blurb (this happens more than I’d like to think about). Anything that suggests a lack of confidence: either you admit it’s a first draft, that it needs a lot of help, or that you’ve been rejected a lot. If you can’t have confidence in your own work, I’m certainly not going to.
4) How can an author maximise their chance of acceptance?
Follow the submission guidelines. Seriously. It sounds so simple, but I’ve been sent so many promising manuscripts by authors who fail to disclose the necessary information we ask for in our guidelines. Our policy is to delete those, as we can’t trust your ability to follow simple instructions, let alone take edits.
Sound excited about your book! I need to know the length, the pairing, the summary, and all the requisite information, of course, but I want to know what you think about it. I’d also like to know how you think your manuscript fits in with LT3’s catalog. Did you submit to us because we published books you like? Or are we just a ticked box in your attempt to be published?
But truly, follow the submission guidelines and make sure you’ve run your manuscript by a few prereaders/betas (and a sensitivity beta, if possible!) so it’s a solid as it can be. That’s the best preparation, and I can tell when someone has put the work in.
If you want to submit to Less Than Three Press, you can find all the info HERE. Anyone wanting to touch base with Amanda can find her on Twitter.