Thursday I attended the presentations for two publishers: Pyr and Angry Robot. They talked about their upcoming titles, what they have planned for their readers, and did some promo for their authors. Listening to them gives you a good idea of the kind of vibe they like from their books and what is important to them (i.e. stuff that can help you pick the right publishing house to send your manuscript to).
Angry Robot is a pretty new publisher in the science fiction and fantasy space. Lee Harris, one of their editors, started the presentation by giving a quick rundown of their history since starting in 2008. They launched in the UK and in Australia in 2009 and they came out in America last year. They publish a lot of debut novelists because they know what they like and they don’t care who is giving it to them. Some of the books they’ve put out are getting a lot of critical acclaim and attention—I’m particularly interested in Lauren Buekes’s novel Zoo City, which is shortlisted for the World Fantasy Best Novel award this year (I picked up a copy from their free book giveaway and I’ll see how it goes).
The folks at Angry Robot are very big on making books available fairly to readers worldwide, so they always buy world rights. They absolutely love cross-genre work. If you’ve got a sci-fi book with mystery elements and a dash of the fantastic—or any other cross-genre speculative fiction—you should be looking at Angry Robot. They also have a strong horror line if you’re looking into that.
Angry Robot engages in a lot of reader/fan interaction. They have an ebook subscription model, so if you’re a fan of their editorial selections and taste, you can buy a year’s worth of ebooks for a discount price: $97 for a guaranteed 24+ (DRM-free) ebooks over the course of the upcoming year. If you buy a subscription, you also get a promo code that lets you buy backlist titles from their online bookstore at 33% off (just in case one of the 24 books you’ll get during the year is the second in a series).
Given their focus on audience, readership, and fans, the “special project” they announced here at WorldCon is pretty natural. They’re starting a program called WorldBuilder, which is essentially an encouraged and nourished fan fiction/fan art/fan music/fan creation community. Fans will be able to take part in building the periphery of a story’s world, and the “best of” will be published in a quarterly anthology (which will be headlined by a story or piece that is commissioned professionally).
If you’re interested in submitting to Angry Robots, know that they are not currently open to unagented submissions, but occasionally they are. This March they opened their doors for 30 days and invited anyone and everyone to submit. Lee said that ended up being a little crazy for them (they just got through the last of the submissions from that batch), but they want to do the same thing on a smaller scale in the future. They’ll probably open for a week or so when they’re looking for a specific sort of book. So keep an eye on the Angry Robot blog and don’t miss a perfect opportunity for your book.
This heading for Pyr may be somewhat misleading, but Lou Anders, the editorial director at Pyr, is also the art director there, so he certainly loves a beautiful cover or a well-designed map, so he tends to rave about them.
Lou is a really approachable guy—I ran into him more on Friday than I did Thursday at the Pyr presentation. Friday at a small group he chatted with eight or so WorldCon attendees and gave us an inside peek at what he’s looking for: adult science fiction isn’t working so well for them right now (though he’s hoping Hollywood’s forays into sci-fi will drive interest in, say, a space opera), he doesn’t want cyberpunk, but he digs sword and sorcery. What he really wants to find is an author that can write an urban-fantasy–style cast of characters (specifically the lead female role) in a secondary, sword-and-sorcery setting. He firmly believes that sword and sorcery people would love urban fantasy if they could make themselves read it, so he wants something to cross that line.
In November Pyr will launch the first three titles of its new YA line. Right now Pyr is publishing about 30 books a year, and eventually Lou wants 10 of those books to be YA (next year about 6 of them will be). For YA, the subgenre doesn’t matter; just make it good.
What I’m excited about with Pyr is a book called Blackdog (by K.V. Johansen). It just came out and it sounds amazing. Lou really, really, really wants Brandon Sanderson to read it and blurb it, because he’s convinced that Brandon will love it. I think I’ll love it, so I want to get my hands on a copy once I’m done with what I have on my plate right now.
If you’re considering submitting to Pyr, be sure to check their submission guidelines. They do accept unagented submissions, so even if you don’t have an agent yet, feel free to send your full manuscript.
I got a lot of insights from Lou, but I’ll share more of them in a special post about the editors I talked to while I was at WorldCon.
With both of these publishers, you can tell by speaking with Lee Harris and Lou Anders that they love their books. If they’re publishing your work, it’s because you got them very, very excited. They have different styles that they prefer, so your work may be better suited to one over the other, but being published by either one would mean you had some very invested advocates on your work’s side. All you have to do is hear Lou trying to convince everyone at every panel he spoke at to get Brandon Sanderson to read Blackdog to know that he absolutely loves the book—and he won’t rest until he knows other people love it too.