This month’s guest we have something a little different. We are accompanied by PULP Literature. It was the brainchild of Jennifer Landels, Mel Anastasiou and Susan Pieters, a trio of writer-editors who took the advice “write what you want to read” one step further, to “publish what you want to read”.
We will be chatting with Jennifer Landels who is the Managing Editor. She holds a BA in Mediaeval English Literature from UBC and may some day return to her doctorate in Arthurian Romance at University College London.
Let’s welcome Jennifer to the blog!
Hi Jennifer Landels, thank you for joining us. Can you give us an introduction to you and PULP Literature Press?
Hi Konn, thanks for inviting me! You’ve already introduced me pretty well, but I guess I can add that I also teach swordplay, riding, and mounted combat with Academie Duello, and am a writer and artist as well as an editor.
Pulp Literature Press is a registered Canadian non-profit organization. Our quarterly magazine has been going for four years and sixteen issues now. We publish short fiction, some novellas and novel excerpts, poetry, and comics in each book-sized issue. This year we also branched into novel publishing, and used our own novels, Mel Anastasiou’s Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries and my Allaigna’s Song: Overture as our proving ground.
What made you want to get into the publishing industry?
I blame the beer. Mel, Sue, and I were sitting on Mel’s balcony on Bowen island enjoying the sunshine and bemoaning the lack of short story markets in Canada. Then we realized that between us we had the skills to put together a fiction digest and the industry contacts to get some great names on the covers of our first few issues. After that, it was a matter of putting together a Kickstarter to fund it, and the rest is history.
How do you three manage to juggle running a magazine and working on your own writing?
Not particularly well, I have to admit. Often my own writing takes back seat to the magazine. I’m trying to change that and carve out a few more dedicated revising hours per week. Luckily Mel, Sue, and I write together every Friday, and we each get about 1000 words of first draft done. That at least keeps my new material flowing, even if I’m behind on revisions.
Starting a business, what has been the biggest challenge?
Funding. We do get a small Canada Council grant, which pays the printing costs, but all the pay for writers, artists, and designers comes from subscriptions or our own pockets. If every writer who submitted a short story also subscribed we would have no funding issues at all – unfortunately writers aren’t flush with cash either! We’ve run Kickstarters every autumn to keep the magazine alive, but they take a huge amount of work. This year we’re taking the risky step of skipping the Kickstarter and directing supporters to our Patreon page (https://www.patreon.com/pulplit) to generate more stable, monthly funding for the magazine.
PULP Literature publishes a range of work, is there anything that you won’t publish?
In the magazine we don’t publish erotica or young adult / children’s fiction, and we will reject works that we deem sexist, racist, homophobic, ablist, or derogatory. Beyond that, we are open to all genres and we like a wide variety of tone, style, and subject matter. Although we do publish novellas, we prefer shorter works as they are easier to find space for. We are considering Young Adult novels, but in the upper age range of the bracket.
With submissions, you have a guidelines page, what are some of the most common mistakes you see?
Ignoring the guidelines! I’m serious – we have the guidelines there for a reason, and its surprising how many people don’t seem to read them.
That aside, the most common reasons we reject stories are:
- The protagonist isn’t appealing or doesn’t engage our sympathies. We want an admirable yet flawed main character. A character with no admirable traits doesn’t appeal, and one with no flaws doesn’t engender sympathy.
- The central conflict isn’t apparent in the first page. If it’s not, we don’t know why we should care about the character or the story.
- The story needs tightening. Sometimes a story has a great start but the middle sags. Or the dialogue drags on too long. Or the ending is unsatisfying. These are all aspects that can be fine-tuned, and if we love parts of the story we may end up working with the author to polish it. But it’s even better if you send us a story that already shines and purrs like a well-loved Aston Martin.
We never reject a story due to bad formatting, but we sure would like it if all manuscripts came in double spaced in a nice 11 or 12 point font for the sake of our tired first readers’ eyes.
Any final thoughts you’d like to share with the readers and aspiring writers?
For writers: we print only two or three stories from every thousand submissions. That means perfectly good stories will be rejected for reasons that have nothing to do with the story quality. We try to balance genre, tone, story length, and style in every issue. So if we’ve just published an urban werewolf story recently, we’re not going to do another one for at least a year or two. Don’t give up! Keep submitting, and above all, keep reading to get a feel for what we like.
For readers: we want to hear from you. We publish what we want to read, and we hope its what you want to read too. The biggest gift you can give any author, short of buying their books, is an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, or by old fashioned letter. Don’t be shy – let us know what you think!
Thank you Jennifer and PULP Literature for joining us!
Featured on GoIndieNow
Jennifer and I were also part of a panel discussion on GoIndieNow discussing how we market books, give it a watch below: