The UK has a fantastic small press scene. To celebrate the people behind the imprints, and help out the writers that are looking to them for publication, we've asked a number of editors to share what they're working on - and what they're looking for. This week, our guest is Christopher Teague from Pendragon Press.
Pendragon are one of the classics of the UK scene, and you've given 'first breaks' to everyone from Gareth Powell to Mark Charan Newton. Could you tell us a bit about who you are and what you're doing?
For nigh on 18 years, Pendragon Press has been part of my life – but I’ve been involved in the small press as a reader for over 20 years ever since I discovered Chris Reed’s BBR catalogue in the mid-90s.
I initially started out as a wannabe writer, with two stories to my name and plenty of rejections. It was when I got bounced from Nasty Piece of Work after about the third or fourth time I thought, “just how difficult would it be to put together an anthology?” And Nasty Snips was born.
The rest, as they say, is history. . .
What are the stories or the novels that you want to publish?
Although I started out with an anthology, Pendragon has published novels too. Two years ago, I decided to concentrate solely on novellas: when I looked back, it was those titles that gave me the first fun in putting together, and – not too beat around the bush – the most cost-effective for an indie publisher.
What have you recently published, and what's coming soon?
2016 was very much a lean period, for a couple of reasons. . . the last title in 2015 was Stephen Bacon and Mark West’s double-novella collection The Lost Film and then announced that 2016 would be the start of the novella-only schedule.
Well, that was the plan, but in the summer 2015, I discovered the joys of cycling and as I continued to cycle, the year raced ever onwards until it got too January 2016 and I hadn’t done a single piece of pre-production on the novellas that had been accepted.
I announced a temporary hiatus until the upcoming FantasyCon in September where I could launch all four, and then the bombshell: I was made redundant, and remain unemployed.
I’m slowly putting together one novella – a debut from Liam Ronan – called The Creeping Stick for publication in April, and until the job-situation improves then it will very much be a single-book-when-funds-allow kind of publishing situation.
Any advice to authors on the process of submitting? Cover email, details, formatting, etc?
A very brief synopsis does help, but just stick to the usual mss format: 12-point font, double-spaced. No fancy fonts.
Is there anything about a story or its presentation that will immediately knock it out of consideration? An 'auto-fail'?
No, I’ll only reject a story if I don’t enjoy reading it. If I’m loving it, but it has spelling errors, then I’ll accept it: would be rather churlish of me to reject a story with atrocious grammar/spelling when my own ability is on the less-than positive side of things, although I will add that if I can correct a typo/grammar error, then it must be bad.
The nasty part of editing... what advice do you have for writers if they're turned down?
It’s just me: recycle that story to another editor. We’re not all the same, and it will eventually find a home. I know writers who have sat on stories for years, unable to find a home, and then just when they consider giving up it gets accepted.
Any other tips for those sending you work?
Try and do a basic spell check on your submission, but just to re-iterate: I won’t reject an enjoyable story for bad spelling – anyone who knows me, knows my dyslexia when it comes to has and as, and too and to.
Are you looking for new stories right now?
At the present moment, the novella line is closed to submissions. However, I am working on an idea for a series of electronic-only chapbooks with a distinctive universal cover design. Still on the planning stage, and has been for a little while, but it will get there.