Finding Balance in Opposites in Asterios Polyp
'I Eat Your Skin' (1971)

Small Press Shakedown: Dave de Burgh of Tickety Boo Press

Tickety Boo

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 Tickety Boo Press.

Could you tell us a bit about who you are and what you're doing?

Tickety Boo Press was started at the end of January, 2014 by Gary Compton, who remains our driving force and managing director. We're a small, independent publisher, and we publish Science Fiction (through our Space Dock imprint), Fantasy (through our Phantasia imprint), edgy, crazy, not-your-usual SpecFic thrillers (through our Critical Mass imprint), and Horror (through our Spectral Press imprint). We follow the traditional model of publishing, submissions, etc.

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

We want to publish tales (be they novels or short stories) that engage as well as entertain - we like tales that push the envelope, with a cinematic feel and deep emotion - Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and the stories that defy categorization.

GunboyWhat have you recently published, and what's coming soon?

January: we published SF Edwards' first Spiral War novel, On Dagger's Wings

February: we published the first two of our Venus Ascending imprint: The Beguiler by Suzanne Jackson, and Beneath the Skin by Caroline Hill

March: we published Jo Zebedee's Abendau Omnibus (consisting of Abendau's Heir, Sunset Over Abendau, and Abendau's Legacy), Leighton Dean's debut, Gunboy, and M. D. Thalmann's The Thirteen Lives of a Television Repairman.

In the coming months we'll be publishing the second Spiral Wars novel, another debut by a crazy-cool gent named Von Kraemer, and a two more volumes in the Spectral Books of Horror series - among other, as-yet-unannounced novels.

Any advice to authors on the process of submitting?

First of all, always, always, always stick to the submission guidelines. Did I say 'always'?

Second of all, submit your best effort - make sure that you're not sending your first draft (we're not first draft readers, and writers shouldn't be submitting their first drafts anywhere), so that means very few to no typos, for example, and that your submission doesn't have elementary story mistakes (characters changing names mid-chapter), etc. Your submission is akin to applying for a job - if you don't present your best effort, you probably won't go beyond the door.

Is there anything about a story or its presentation that will immediately knock it out of consideration? An 'auto-fail'?

1) Not following submission guidelines

2) Almost every quality / big / successful publisher gives a manuscript a minimum of five pages to do its job - if it doesn't, it doesn't go further. I've declined well-written submissions that didn't begin the story within that range, and, by story, I mean introducing the plot, hinting at the story's central conflict / problem, a good introduction to the characters (or main character). A submission has to snap within the first 3 pages, so that when the editor gets to the 5th page, they've already decided to give the submission more attention. The fact is, if the story starts on page 6, the browser replaces the book on the shelf and the person who bought the book sets it aside for something more exciting.

Beneath the SkinThe nasty part of editing... what advice do you have for writers if they're turned down?

Step away from the manuscript or story for at least a month and be incredibly vicious when you go back to it; go through it line by line and fix any grammar errors and typos you notice, then take another break from it (a week or two); when you return to it, sit and read it aloud - you'll immediately pick up where things like pacing, dialogue, sentence structures, etc. don't work as well as they could.

You'll also pick up where you've repeated words and phrases. And when you're done with that, give it another week, then hit it again and try and catch what you may have missed. And then, when you're done with all that, get the manuscript out there again.

Any other tips for those sending you work?

We're looking for fresh, original, daring stuff - we don't mind tropes, so long as you use them cleverly. Are you using the Prophesied One trope? Make sure it's cool and different and attention-grabbing.

Are you looking for new stories right now?

We're busy consolidating our releases for the rest of 2017, so any submission calls for the remainder of this year will be for anthologies.

But keep an eye on our website, Facebook page and Facebook group for info and updates.


Check out the other small presses profiled as part of our weekly series - and to participate, drop us a line at