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 Philippa Martinez from Uruk Press.
Could you tell us a bit about who you are and what you're doing?
Uruk Press has a humble aim: to publish the best in fantasy and science erotica. Hey, you have to aim big, right? I started the company a couple of years ago when I was on maternity leave and feeling a bit depressed and isolated from the world. Rediscovering my love of fanfic and online fantasy filth was a bit of a lifeline and then I though, why not do it yourself?
I was pretty much a total amateur but things seem to have worked out quite. I've even got over my phobia of cheesy but commercially useful blurbs!
We started in reprint novels but quickly moved to original novels. I was stupidly proud when I published the first of these, Fencing Academy by AW Freyr, and it is still has a special place in my heart. We now have an anthology series and a novella line as well and I'm always thinking about where we could go next. Shared universe, perhaps?
What are the stories or the novels that you want to publish?
I'm a bit of an omnivore. Fantasy is such a broad church and that was one of the reasons I fell in love with it as a genre. Likewise there are unending flavours of sexytime reading. So I want literary erotica, Happily Ever After romance and outright porn. I want dark BDSM to fluffy heavy petting (okay, perhaps very heavy petting). And we are queer-friendly and kink-friendly.
So I'm open to most things but I get most excited about works I can't categorise. Our last novella, The Serpent's Kiss by Cyrano Johnson, is part Victorian pastiche, part the sort of Seventies pulp that started me down this path in the first place and part thoroughly modern metafictional alt history. A review on Amazon called it, "The hottest book with footnotes I've ever read", so that's something to be proud of!
We've just published Sex & Sorcery 3, the third volume of our annual erotic epic fantasy anthology. Despite being a British publisher, most of our readers and authors are from the US so it was nice to have stories from people in Canada, Holland, Australia and Hong Kong. And the stories themselves definitely run the whole erotic spectrum.
The cover is by Rupert Everton who is responsible for the amazing webcomic I Roved Out In Search Of Truth And Love which I'd recommend to all your readers. Sexy, sex-positive, clever and funny, it definitely lives up to its billing as a "warmly pornographic fantasy saga". He also did the cover for Dragon Jade Chronicle by Jamie MacFrey and it is super exciting to work with such talented artists.
What's coming soon?
Our next standalone novella is A Fetch Job by Dragon Cobolt which has a Mean Girls in Middle Earth premise that then turns into the lewdest episode of Buffy imaginable - and people have imagined quite a lot of those! A lot of fun and I've just signed contracts for a four novella series called Purgatory Wars from the same author that promises to be a mash-up of every genre, trope and fetish under the sun.
Otherwise 2017 is the year of third books: the end of Guinevere A Hart's Hells Unleashed, the latest book in the Fencing Academy series and the final book in the first trilogy of Martin Drax's The Boys Of Colony Theta. We are all grown up :)
Any advice to authors on the process of submitting? Cover email, details, formatting, etc?
Submission details, including formatting guidelines, are set out on our website. I'm generally pretty relaxed but some of the conventions of writing online - line breaks between paragraphs, using tab to intent the first sentence of a paragraph - are a real pain for books.
Don't worry too much about the covering email: for novel and novella pitches, focus on the synopsis and the sample, and for anthology submissions just provide the information requested as I'll be diving into the story anyway.
This should be pretty obvious but I publish speculative erotica so both those elements need to be integral. Some submissions I'm, like, okay but where was the sex? And others could just as easily be set in Romford as R'thhl or whether. The other things is something common to all editors, whatever the genre, and that is knowing exactly where the story is heading from the very first sentence.
Oh, and paranormal romance will always be a hard sell. I've nothing against it but it is a very well established commercial market whereas I'm looking for stories that have trouble finding a home elsewhere. The closest to a 'straight' paranormal romance novel I've published is The Squab Fiends by Victoria Arius, which is more a globe-spanning secret history with the supernatural and steampunk thrown in for good measure. And definitely not that straight...
The nasty part of editing... what advice do you have for writers if they're turned down?
Try again! Sometimes it is clear that a writer's approach isn't going to be a good fit - "it's not you, it's me" - but usually you can see the potential and I always encourage people to resubmit.
Are you looking for new stories or novels right now? If so, what?
Yes, I'm very greedy and always looking for more so please pitch me! Particularly if you are a woman as I tend to get more submissions from men. I'd also love to see more science fiction and I'm perhaps the only person in the world still interested in steampunk. And short story submissions for Sex & Sorcery 4 will open later in the year.