Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Drollerie Press

THE MARKET

  • Publisher: Drollerie Press
  • Editor(s): Various (interview with Deena Fisher)
  • Pay rate: 42% net
  • Response Time: about 2 months
  • Description: Drollerie Press publishes short stories, novelettes, novellas, and novels in various genres, including sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. (More in guidelines.)
  • Submission Guidelines: www.drolleriepress.com
NOTE: Horror author D.L. Snell conducted the following interview to give writers a better idea of what the editors of this specific market are seeking; however, most editors are open to ideas outside of the preferences discussed here, as long as they fit the basic submission guidelines.

THE SCOOP

1) What authors do you enjoy and what is it about their writing that captivates you?
Oh goodness. I like so many. In speculative fiction: Robin McKinley, Tanith Lee, Charles de Lint, Terri Windling, Patricia Wrede, Caroline Stevermer, Neil Gaiman, Patricia Briggs, Caitlin McKiernan, Jay Lygon. I love the mythology that they bring into their writing. I think it gives their stories depth and texture. They have likeable, intriguing protagonists and well-drawn secondary characters, characters who aren’t interchangeable from book to book; strong plots, and a story I can believe in, one that I can be invested in.

2) What are your favorite genres? Which of these genres would you like to see incorporated into submissions to this market?
I love speculative fiction of all kinds. The sub-genres I’m currently interested in are steampunk, space opera, and urban mythic. Those will likely change; they often do. The best stories, for me, are cross-genre and turn expected plot elements on their heads. I really enjoy stories that tease the reader into exploring more experimental fiction. Everyone knows what a story is, and, often, when we read for fun we like to read things that follow the patterns we know. I like stories that start from that accessible point, the hero’s journey or the coming of age tale or the romance, and then diverge from that point gently, bringing the reader along, so that by the end it’s become something new.

3) What settings most intrigue you? Ordinary or exotic locales? Real or fantasy? Past, present, or future?
I love everything if it’s told well. The stories that are hardest to sell to me are contemporary fiction without anything mythic, speculative or fantastical about it; and anything prior to about the Georgian period. I don’t love quasi-early-historical (pre-medieval ages) fiction or chick-lit. That’s not to say I wouldn’t accept one, but it would be a harder sell. Steampunk, as I mentioned earlier, so quasi-real of almost any period. I can’t think of any locale I wouldn’t enjoy for the right story.

4) Explain the type of pacing you enjoy, e.g. slow building to fast, fast throughout, etc.
I like to start fast. I don’t want info dumping to occur--ever. I recently read a novel that I enjoyed, but it took me a long time to recognize that I liked it because, for me, it started too slowly. If a person browsing in the bookstore can’t be hooked in the first three pages, it’s not likely going to sell well.

I don’t care about a character’s hair or eye color, that she thinks about feminist issues while applying her mascara too heavily, or that he really wants a beer and to get laid while admiring his washboard abs in the steamy mirror after his shower. While those are the better ways to info-dump, they’re still bits of information that we can discover more organically as we watch the characters interact with others during the course of the plot.

5) What type of characters appeal to you the most? Any examples?
I’m a pushover for strong, competent adult female characters, like the protagonist in Tanya Huff’s space operas; broken characters, the best example for me would be Robin McKinley’s Deerskin; and plucky teens who overcome obstacles to do something amazing, like in the Wrede and Stevermer series. Any character has to have real flaws but they can’t be so flawed that they’re hateful. I have difficulty with the sympathetic killer as pro- or antagonist or the perfect Mary Sue.

6) Horror and violence can be blatant or suggestive. Which one do you prefer and why?
I have to admit, I like mine a little softer, more suggestive, but, other than a dislike of gore-fests, it depends on what’s best for the story.

7) In fiction and in life, what do you find most horrific?
Child abuse, rape, and serial killers, and it would take a story of monumental quality to get me to accept one that featured any or all of those things. I believe they’re too often used for shock value or as tricks to raise tension instead of organic parts of a great story.

8) What are the top three things submitters to this market should avoid?
Anything that’s horrific for the sake of shocking the reader into overlooking bad writing. Anything that doesn’t fit our guidelines; we don’t publish memoirs, for example, but we get at least one of those a month. Bad vampire erotica.

9) What commonalities are among stories you've rejected? Is there a particular aspect authors get wrong? (Question by Martel)
  1. Stories that do not fit our guidelines, including books of poetry, photography books, memoirs, and stories that have nothing mythic or speculative about them.
  2. Stories that are written with the same plot as a major bestseller. I don’t want the next Da Vinci Code; there are too many clones of it out there already. Nor do I want the next Anita Blake.
  3. Stories that are too liberally sprinkled with stereotypes. If it starts out with bad stereotypes--flamboyant gay; kindly granny; “when will you give me grandchildren?” mom; autistic savant; albino sharp-shooter; middle-aged, middle-class guy with a beer gut who shapes up and saves the world; badly-written Ebonics-speaking African-American best friend--it doesn’t have a chance.
  4. Badly written or poorly paced. If I’m itching to pick up a red pen to correct grammar, subject/verb agreement, pronoun usage, or the use of monkshood tea rather than verbena or chamomile to soothe the heroine’s nerves in the first chapter, I’m not going to ask to read more. If the story starts with the heroine dressing, calling her mother, picking out her jewelry and going to her normal day job where nothing happens, it’s not going to make it.

10) If you reject a story, how open are you to a revised version, or do you only want revisions upon request? (Question by Martel)
We try to give at least minimal feedback on every story, usually a paragraph or two about why it doesn’t work for us unless it’s just not our kind of story. From that feedback, the canny author should be able to tell whether or not we’d be interested in reading a revised version, though we do try to include that in the feedback as well. For instance, if I say “I hope you find the right publisher,” then I’m pretty sure I’m never going to be that publisher. If I say, “I thought this story had some remarkable strengths until your Amazonian heroine started crying for her mother,” then I’m probably willing to read a revision. Bottom line: we’re probably open to revisions about half the time, but if the author’s not sure, it’s usually best if he or she asks first.

11) What attribute are you seeking most in submissions to this market?
I can’t narrow it down to one. Tight writing, strong characters, new or unusual situations, myths from other cultures than we can find in any Western Civ. course; believable African American/multicultural protagonists, strong gay characters, strongly religious characters who live in a story that isn’t a thinly-veiled homily, and other unique points of view.

12) Any last advice for submitters to this market?
Read all of the guidelines and be sure you’re submitting your work to the right editor in the right format. Some of our editors will read works that aren’t quite according to our guidelines, others will decline. Either way, if you do it the way we ask you to, we’re going to be favorably inclined toward you. Make sure that your work has been read first by your most nitpicky friend and that as many errors as possible have been nuked. Make sure that you’ve told the best story possible in as few words as possible; make every word count, not because we’re worried about adding another page to the book, but because it will be a better story. Believe in your work and write a persuasive, friendly, short (please make it short) synopsis/cover letter that tells me why I should want to work with you and a little bit of what your story is about.



For more scoops, go to marketscoops.blogspot.com.

D.L. Snell is an Affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association, a graduate of Pacific University's Creative Writing program, and an editor for Permuted Press. Snell's first novel, ROSES OF BLOOD ON BARBWIRE VINES, pits vampires against mutating zombies in a post-apocalyptic setting. David Moody, author of the Autumn series, calls it "violent and visceral...beautiful and erotic," and Jonathan Maberry, author of Ghost Road Blues, says, "[I]t has all the ingredients needed to satisfy even the most jaded fan of horror fiction." For more information and to read sample chapters, visit Exit66.net.

This article may be freely reprinted in any e-zine, newsletter, newspaper, magazine, website, etc. as long as all links and this message remain intact, as well as Snell's byline and bio. The formatting may be adjusted to fit the venue, but the content of the article must not be altered without written permission from D.L. Snell.

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