World Weaver Press has an open submission period coming up very soon — February first, to be exact — and I am ridiculously stoked about it! Reading submissions for novels and collections is a whole different ballgame than reading short stories or poems, and falling in love with a book and then being able to help improve it and share it with the world? It’s amazing. I can’t even begin to tell you. I love it!
When I’m reading submissions the #1 most important thing to me are the characters — they need to be three-dimensional, of course, but beyond that I also need at least one character in the book that I can cheer for. They don’t need to be perfect (please God, don’t let them be perfect) but it’s vital that I want them to prevail. Everything else — plot, world-building, pacing, all of that — comes secondary to this. I can help fix plot problems, or offer suggestions to improve pacing, etc. etc. but if I don’t have a character to cheer for I’m not going to make it through my first read of the manuscript.
Writing a manuscript wish list is really difficult because really what I want most is something that I’ve never even considered asking for. I want to be surprised. That being said, since I only have room in my schedule to acquire one title during this window (at most) I’d like to try and offer some small idea of what I would most like to see and right now I’m all about the -punk.
I’m fascinated with the World Wars and the years between them so it is probably not a huge surprise that the absolute #1 thing I would love to see in the WWP submissions inbox next month is a gritty dieselpunk novel. In case you’re not familiar with dieselpunk one of the best descriptions I’ve found of it so far comes from DailyDot.com:
“…Hallmarked by the advent of diesel engines for major machinery, particularly war machines, dieselpunk begins roughly around the time of the first World War, and finds its apotheosis in the second.
If steampunk’s calling card is a dazzling spectacle of brass, clockwork, and earth tones, then dieselpunk’s is steel and chrome mixing with the grime and grit of modern machinery, the nostalgia of unironic patriotism, and a touch of the misery and existential dread that accompanies modernism.”
Think Dark City. Think Mad Max: Fury Road. Think Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Think Snowpiercer*. And if you’ve got a dieselpunk novel, think of World Weaver Press LOL. We don’t do super duper dark titles for the most part, but we’re good with gritty. I love gritty. Send me all the grit! 🙂
And remember that all countries have patriots, not just North American ones (hint, hint).
As much as I love grit, these days I find myself hungry for optimism as well. For hope. That’s where the second thing on my wishlist comes in.
Somewhere on the other side of the -punk spectrum from dieselpunk is solarpunk. Solarpunk is much more optimistic and envisions an eco-friendly future “focused on envisioning a positive future beyond scarcity and hierarchy, where humanity is reintegrated with nature and technology is used for human-centric and ecocentric purposes.” (Source: Wikipedia.).
I’d love to acquire a lush solarpunk title that uses interesting characters to explore the kinds of conflicts that would exist in a utopian world through an optimistic (not saccharine) lens. That might include conflict types that exist now (interpersonal, criminal, political) as well as ones that might come about because of the new state of things. What kinds of conflicts would those be? I don’t know. Surprise me!
And sandwiched between those two comes the third thing on my wishlist — steampunk. I think everyone knows what steampunk is, and yes, there has been a lot of it produced and published in recent years, but I’m not done with it yet. If you’ve got a fresh take on a steampunk-type tale I would love to see it. Bonus points if your story takes the core steampunk aesthetics and technology but places them somewhere other than the American West or Britain. Got an arctic steampunk tale? I’d love to see it. Something equatorial and steampunk-y? Yes, please.
And remember, if your title is nothing like what I’ve described in this wishlist don’t let that hold you back. First of all, I’m open to all sorts of things I haven’t listed here — like I said, my favourite thing to find in a submission is something I never would have thought to ask for. Secondly, I’m not the only person reading the submissions — there are several Editors at WWP and we all like different things, so even if a project isn’t right for me it might be perfect for one of them. We all read all the submissions so you don’t even have to try and guess which one of us would be most likely to be a good fit for your manuscript.
See you in the slush?
*Wrong time frame to technically be dieselpunk (since Snowpiercer is set in 2014) but right aesthetic. And labels exist to be defied :-p