Friday, 1 July 2011

Tartarus Press - Contemporary Fiction

Today we officially publish Five Degrees of Latitude by Michael Reynier. This is a great collection of short stories by a first-time writer. His submission was one of many that have appeared in our inbox, but it was one that stood out from the rest…

We have an open submissions policy at Tartarus, and receive, on average, two manuscripts via email every day, which equates to over 700 per year. In the last twelve months we’ve accepted two submissions… We are very exacting and have high standards, but we really do want to publish more original fiction by contemporary authors. So why is the “hit-rate” for acceptances so low?

The first thing to say is that around half of all submissions are from authors who don’t realise that we only publish stories and novels in the strange/horror/supernatural genres. It is a surprisingly wide field, but some authors don’t seem to realise that it doesn’t include self-help books, autobiography, high fantasy, etc. It is a shame; a little research would’ve avoided us all wasting our time.

The other half have to be more seriously considered. From experience, it is fairly easy to tell from the first page whether or not a submission is going to be of interest to us. If it is poorly written, in a style that grates, or has specific elements that don’t work for us, a polite rejection will soon follow.  Those that are potentially of interest, perhaps a quarter of all submissions, require more careful reading...

What we are looking for are short story collections and novels that are well-written and original, entertaining and thoughtful, and which have that indefinable extra spark which makes them a really good read. ‘Well-written’ is a subjective concept, but the ability to tell a story in interesting, elegant prose should be the minimum requirement for any author. It is not about perfect grammar and punctuation (although that certainly helps!), but about clear communication, and contributes to making a book a page-turner every bit as much as plot and character.

Not many submissions manage to have everything we are looking for, but when they come along we are pleased to publish them, and share them with our customers. We’re sure that Michael Reynier’s Five Degrees of Latitude will satisfy those who have enjoyed previous Tartarus Press contemporary fiction.

Original Tartarus Press fiction by contemporary authors:
Five Degrees of Latitude, by Michael Reynier, 2011 – in print
Frankenstein's Prescription, by Tim Lees, 2011  – in print
Sourdough, by Angela Slatter, 2010  – in print
The Collected Connoisseur, by Mark Valentine and John Howard, 2010  – in print
Strange Tales III, edited by Rosalie Parker, 2009  – in print
The St Perpetuus Club of Buenos Aires, by Eric Stener Carlson, 2009 – out of print
Cold to the Touch, by Simon Strantzas, 2009 – out of print
Strange Tales II, edited by Rosalie Parker, 2007 – in print
The Long Retreating Day, by John Gaskin, 2006 – out of print
Heathcliff's Tale, by Emma Tennant, 2005  – in print
Morbid Tales, by Quentin S. Crisp, 2004 – out of print, but a paperback reprint is forthcoming
Strange Tales, edited by R.B. Russell and Rosalie Parker, 2003 – reprint available
Echoes and Shadows, by Jon Manchip White, 2003 – out of print
Masques and Citadels, by Mark Valentine, 2003 – out of print, but stories available in The Collected Connoisseur
Three Miles Up, by Elizabeth Jane Howard, 2003 – out of print
The White Hands and Other Weird Tales, by Mark Samuels, 2003 – paperback reprint available
Undesirable Guests, by William Charlton, 2002  – out of print
Stories from a Lost Anthology, by Rhys Hughes, 2002 - in print
A Damask of the Dead, by John Gale, 2002 – out of print
Gunter Weber's Confession, by Louis de Berni̬res, 2001 Рout of print
The Smell of Telescopes, by Rhys Hughes, 2000 – out of print
Forever Azathoth and Other Horrors, by Peter Cannon, 1999 – out of print
In Violet Veils, by Mark Valentine, 1999 – out of print, but stories available in The Collected Connoisseur
Worming the Harpy and other Bitter Pills, by Rhys Hughes, 1995 – paperback reprint available
Tales from Tartarus, edited by R.B. Russell & Rosalie Parker, 1995 – out of print

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for discussing this. It's tough from a consumer end, too.

    With the classics, it's pretty simple: I know (or at least can find out quickly and cheaply) whether I like the writer's work well enough to indulge in a deluxe treatment of his or her work.

    But with contemporary writers, and especially debut releases . . . even when I trust the publisher as much as I trust you, it can be difficult to plunk down $50 on a book by an author with whom I'm completely unfamiliar. But with such limited print runs, by the time a couple glowing reviews finally appear, the book is usually sold out and going for an arm and a leg on the secondary market. I'd love to be able to invest in all the contemporary fiction and trust that it'll live up to your usual high standards, but that's just not a practicality.