Small Press Shakedown: Francesca Barbini of Luna Press
Wednesday, March 01, 2017
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 featured publisher is Luna Press.
Could you tell us a bit about who you are and what you're doing?
Luna Press was born out of my love of reading. I grew up surrounded by books, mainly Fantasy and Science Fiction and owed much of my creativity and interests to other people's stories. Luna exists exactly for this purpose, to be a platform, to allow new voices to be heard and in turn inspire others.
We love a diverse approach to Fantasy and Science Fiction, which is why we give a lot of importance to art and non-fiction. We have organised art shows to go with our illustrated stories, and we encourage research on Fantasy and Science Fiction, especially with our annual call for papers.
What are the books that you want to publish?
We have open submissions for graphic novels, illustrated novelettes and non-fictional exploration of Fantasy, Dark Fantasy and Science Fiction, such as conference proceedings, PhDs, call for papers, etc.
We love non-fiction, and we believe it has a lot to offer when it comes to expanding one's enjoyment of speculative fiction. We have also published, and are in the process of publishing, anthologies and full-length novels, but you'll need to check the website for open subs for these categories.
What have you recently published?
We've had two very busy years! This year, we've started with The Sub-Genres of British Fantasy Literature, by AJ Dalton, an easy-to-read journey into how the social and political decades have influenced Fantasy, and given rise to all the diverse sub-genres we have. Last month it was our regular short-story collection, Beyond Realities Vol II, by the winners of our annual competition, and The Things That Should Not Squee, a tongue-in-cheek illustrated booklet on the Cthulhu mythos, by Peter Andrews.
What's coming soon?
On the non-fiction front, we have a couple of publications on J.R.R. Tolkien's works, coming out this year, a collection of papers, and Aragorn: J.R.R. Tolkien's Undervalued Hero by Angela P Nicholas. Very exciting! We also have Steampunk Writers Around The World, a bilingual anthology (Spanish and English) of stories, exploring Steampunk in different cultures. Tremendously interesting - for some, the idea of publishing in two languages may seem risky but it is a reflection of how we do things at Luna. We're not afraid of trying new forms of expression.
Any advice to authors on the process of submitting?
Every publisher spends time creating a submissions page on their website, and keeping it up to date. Follow the instructions, I'd say. You have no idea the number of rejections we have to deal with every month because someone has submitted outside the genres we deal with, or for a project that is currently closed. If you’re not bothered with reading even one page of guidelines, how can you expect others to be bothered with your work?
Is there anything about a story or its presentation that will immediately knock it out of consideration? An 'auto-fail'?
Assuming you have followed the submissions guidelines, we will always take a look at your proposal. So no, there is no 'auto-fail' as such at that point, but the story must resonate with us and what we do. And keep in mind, that if isn't right for Luna, it could still be right for elsewhere.
The nasty part of editing... what advice do you have for writers if they're turned down?
Rejection is never based on one factor alone, but if I had to focus on editing, in particular, I would say: watch your style and presentation. Let me explain: if we take on a story, it will be edited by the editorial team, but to 'edit' does not mean to 're-write'. Don't send in your first drafts, but rather a manuscript which has been checked to the best of your abilities and knowledge. You don't have to hire an editor as such if you are submitting to a small press or traditional publisher, but there are tonnes of ways of getting feedback on your manuscript before you send it out. Beta readers for example (not your mom) and software to get you through basic grammar. The time we can give to each story is limited, and you have one shot at making an impression. You want the publisher's attention to be solely on the story, rather than on deciphering what you were trying to say but didn't. You get the gist.
Any other tips for those sending you work?
Follow the guidelines and submit the best project you can create, as it reflects on you. Also, be prepared to take a risk. You never know what can happen!
Learn more about Luna Press on their website, and follow them on Twitter and Facebook. 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.