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 quizzed a number of editors specifically about the nuts & bolts of their submissions process. First up, Adele, from Fox Spirit Books!
Pornokitsch: Hi! - and thanks for taking part! Mind telling us a bit about yourself?
Adele Wearing: Hi, I am Adele Wearing / Aunty Fox from Fox Spirit Books. We are a skulk of fearless genre warriors cheerfully stomping over traditional genre boundaries in seach of a good tall tale.
PK: Generally speaking, what sort of work are you looking for?
AW: We like things that play with genre's things with a different tone or perspective, we love diversity in our writers and characters because it brings a wider range of voices. Personally I am looking for characters that interest me and storytelling. I would rather work with a writer who needs technical improvement but has a great exciting idea, than one who writes flawlessly but doesn't pull me in.
PK: Any advice to authors on the physical part of submissions - type, spacing, etc?
AW: I had my copy editor suggest the formatting rules for our submission guidelines, he would also like me to automatically reject anything that doesn't comply, I haven't generally but we may be gettign to that point. So authors, check and if you are told to use wingdings (unlikely I know) use wingdings.
AW: Simple, professional, your name, email, website, pseudonym if applicable, 100 word synopsis. Some sub guidelines will of course tell you exactly what they want and if they do, do that, but if in doubt i'd advise the above.
The big 'don't' for me is the whole thing of trying to make your sub stand out. Don't do big blocks of colour and exciting fonts, we have guidelines for a reason and trying to make your submission stand out suggests a) you have no confidence that your writing will be enough and b) you don't follow instructions so will be difficult to work with.
PK: Do you suggest that authors include information about themselves? If so, what?
AW: If you have been published elsewhere then, yes, by all means add that - a couple of lines at the bottom will be fine. If you've been published online then add details of some previous published works. Do not list all 63 blogs that have posted your work unpaid. One or two examples of work in the wild is sufficient in that case. As far as awards, if you've won a relevant industry award - great, sure, let me know. If you've won a NaNoWriMo award don't put that (seriously I've seen 'nanowrimo award winner' on the inside cover of a self pub book), if it's not remotely relevant don't include it. If I want a sci fi novel then being a prize winning National Geographic reporter may not have much bearing on your fiction work.
PK: Is there anything about the story or its presentation that could immediately knock it out of consideration?
AW: As I say, trying too hard to stand out with a splashy query will likely mean I give the story three lines to grab me. Also, killing pets. I'm a great believer in Ripley going back for the cat and, with rare exceptions, I think killing off a pet is lazy writing. This is the bad guy, you can tell because he kills kittens. It's a good way not to get anywhere with Fox Spirit.
AW: I've seen a lot of places that ask you not to chase for three months. I don't mind an email once the submissions have closed if you didn't get an acknowledgment, it's senisble to chek your submission was received and is being considered. Just be realistic, publishers are busy. Small presses are often working around full time day jobs, we have limited time and it can take a while. Check once in a while, be patient, accept the answer if it's not yet.
PK: Turning down stories sucks. And being turned down is, I suspect, even worse. Is there anything you can say to make it better? What should writers do when turned down?
AW: My rejections tend to be pretty form these days sadly. I will if asked try to offer additional feedback. If you ask for and receive additional feedback then send a 'thank you', even if you disagree and think the editor is wrong and insane and failing to recognise your genius. We remember these things.
PK: Any other tips for writers that are submitting work to you?
AW: Be patient, be polite and be kind to small animals.
PK: Are you looking for stories right now?
We are! 'You left your biscuit behind' is still open until June 1st. Details of this and everything else are available on here.