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 David Rix, from Eibonvale Press.
Could you tell us a bit about who you are and what you're doing?
Eibonvale Press has always been one of the more far-out presses working in the UK – and very much a cottage industry, with only one person running it and taking care of the design and editing. I am most interested in material that falls between genres, but essentially that covers everything from the fringes of horror through speculative fiction to more literary styles – always with a fantastical and ‘strange’ slant.
What are the stories or the novels that you want to publish?
I always say that I want to develop a personality for the press rather than a house style. This means that I am open to a wide range of styles, as I said, but that I still want them to work as a whole catalogue. I like to see how they react off each other and fit together. Personally, as a reader, I have the strongest interest in single-author collections and novellas – but anything goes really. I even did a collection of indie comics, which definitely fits into the overall personality of the press.
What have you recently published, and what's coming soon?
I recently committed a classic small press mistake and took on a bit too much in the last queue of books – so not to mince words, I am exhausted! The last of that queue was published a month or so ago, so in terms of what’s coming soon, the answer is ‘holiday’ – but not too long a holiday I hope. I have several possible plans, including a few more titles on the horizon, launching a call for a new themed anthology, producing a set of novellas, or just opening up to anything and seeing what comes. Which of these I will do first, I am not sure.
Any advice to authors on the process of submitting? Cover email, details, formatting, etc.?
I am very easy-going regarding submissions. I don’t really mind how you format it. I don’t even care if it’s double-spaced or not. The formatting, whatever it is, should be technically consistent and clear though – that is the only thing that bugs me a bit. For example, it causes more work and some confusion when writers end up using more than one kind of paragraph indent in an MS (tabs AND indent sliders in different places), or double-space a manuscript but allow a few actual paragraph returns to creep in (that’s actually why I am very happy with single spacing). Those things would never cause me to reject a good story, but I might mutter quietly to myself.
Is there anything about a story or its presentation that will immediately knock it out of consideration? An 'auto-fail'?
I … doubt it really. And if anything was to put me off, then it would definitely reside in the area of content rather than presentation. Familiar genre tropes without major originality are something I tend to be uninterested in, I can say that much.
The nasty part of editing... what advice do you have for writers if they're turned down?
I am a writer as well, so I know this business from both sides. The saying that a rejection doesn’t necessarily mean I think a work is bad is one hundred percent true. If I have 20 excellent submissions, but can accept a maximum of 6, then I have to start being very selective and applying all sorts of criteria to get the number down – both esoteric and mundane. Many good works get sent back simply because there was another one that fit the press’s aesthetic just a bit better. The crucial thing for the writer is to keep going, keep the work moving to other presses until it finds a home. ‘Home’ is a good word for it for it is definitely a mutual process.
Every so often, you hear these stories about how some massive bestseller spent ages doing the rounds of publisher after publisher, all of whom rejected it – the subtext being “look at all these silly presses and what their short-sightedness caused them to miss!” Well – no! If I had received Harry Potter or Stephen King’s first novel, I’d probably have rejected it as well. Not because I think they are bad books, just because they don’t match.
Are you looking for new stories right now?
Right now, no – but soon!
As I mentioned, a break is definitely needed if I am to keep going in the long term. After that though, as already mentioned, I have plans and hope to open for submissions again. It is important to me (as a reader as well as a publisher) that presses of any kind do not become cliques, and for this reason public calls for works are vitally important. It is depressing that I have needed to spend so long closed to submissions while I worked through the queue of forthcoming books. Keep an eye out, because things will be happening!
Learn more about Eibonvale Press. Check out the other small presses profiled as part of our weekly series - and to participate, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.