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Small Press Shakedown: Alex Davis of Boo Books

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 about the nuts & bolts of their submissions process. This week, we're welcoming Alex Davis of Boo Books.

ElectricPornokitsch: Thanks for joining us - could you tell us a bit about who you are, and what bookish things you're doing?

Alex Davis: My name is Alex Davis, I've been working in the world of writing and publishing, and just over a year ago I decided to take the plunge and start my own small press, Boo Books. We aim to publish local writing talent alongside national and international names in a range of anthologies and novels.

PK: What are the stories or the novels that you want to publish?

AD: It's hard to tell until it lands in your inbox really. As a press we have a regional remit - we love to publish East and West Midlands writers - but ultimately we're very open as per genre and style. Great characterisation, a strong plot and - for me - something quirky and unique to set it apart from the other subs you're dealing with.

PK: Any advice to authors on the physical part of submissions - type, spacing, etc?

AD: I always use the term 'neat and tidy'. Single or double spacing doesn't bother me at all, a nice simple font like Arial or Times New Roman, headers with page numbers and author name... it's not rocket science, just try and make it easy for us to read, be it on screen or on paper!

Boo BooksPK: How about the cover email? Should authors include details about themselves and their publishing history?

AD: Keep it short and sweet. Your submission will hopefully speak for itself. Sum the book up in a line, give me a few writing credit if you have them, then sign off.

A little information is useful, but for me I don't really think it makes a difference to my decision. The story works or it doesn't, be that a multiple-time published author or a newcomer.

PK: Is there anything that's a, uh, 'auto-fail'? Something about the story or its presentation that will immediately knock it out of consideration?

AD: Someone who obviously hasn't read the guidelines! You can say 'we don't do poetry' or 'we don't do children's books' and they still come in regardless. Just take the time to read the guidelines - we put them out there for a reason, and it's not exactly reams of reading!

Breaking the RulesPK: What about after the submission - should writers follow up? If so, when?

AD: We always give a rough schedule for response, but if you haven't heard by that time then follow up (politely!) by all means. Like many small press editors, I have a lot of other things to do work-wise, so it can take time to get round to all the replies.

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?

AD: Take another look at the story, give it another edit if you feel it necessary (or if we've offered any advice at all) and then send it somewhere else. Everybody gets turned down, because it's ultimately the decision of a handful of people at best.

PK: Any other tips for writers that are submitting work to you?

AD: Be professional in every aspect. We endeavour to be professional in all we do, so we expect the same courtesy from you.

PK: Are you looking for stories right now? 

Not at the moment - we've just closed an open subs window, so we have a good stack of work to be cracking on with as is! We will open again some time soon, although much will depend on what there is in the current subs pile...

Learn more about Alex and the complete range of delights at Boo Books at