Like many foolhardy ideas, The Book Smugglers was born of a time of great adversity. Faced with threats concerning the overwhelming volume of books purchased on a daily basis, we—Ana Grilo and Thea James—resorted to “smuggling” books home in huge handbags to avoid scrutiny.
In 2008 we founded The Book Smugglers, an award-winning and multiple Hugo Award-nominated blog, dedicated to reviews and essays covering SFF and genre fiction for all ages. Our goal has always been to discuss and call attention to diverse, underrepresented books, authors, and voices in speculative fiction fandom. With over 10 million pageviews, The Book Smugglers keeps going strong.
In October 2014, we expanded our website by launching Book Smugglers Publishing. Our ongoing mission? To discover the best voices in speculative fiction from across the world, and boldly publish original short fiction from subversive, feminist, and diverse perspectives. Each short story is made available on the blog for free, and is also sold as a standalone ebook (50% royalties paid to our authors), with original art commissioned especially for each short story.
Each season of publication is marked by a different thematic concept: in Fall 2014, the inaugural theme was Subversive Fairy Tales. Our sophomore season (Summer 2015) honed in on the theme of First Contact. Our third season (Summer 2016) featured Superhero-themed short stories. Our most recent season (Summer 2017) is Gods and Monsters.
We have experimented with publishing serialized short stories—a Fairy Tale Noir series by Carlie St. George and a Magical Girls series by Isabel Yap. We've also published two novelettes as limited edition print copies: The Beatriceid by Kate Elliott and The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist by S.L. Huang.
So far, we Smugglers—Ana and Thea—have done all of the work on our own. We write original reviews and essays as well as organize and edit guest posts for The Book Smugglers every day. We also handle all of the aspects of our short story business, from reading submissions and acquiring content, to editing, proofing and production, as well as all aspects of distribution, sales, and marketing. It's a whole lot of work—and we love every minute of it.
In 2018, The Book Smugglers turns 10 years old—and it's now time to level up!
We want to do more. We want to increase how much we pay our authors (from $0.06 per word to $0.08). We want to invite new, paid, regular contributors to our website, and we want to make our website bigger and better than ever—which means we need help with ongoing maintenance and performance. We want to be able to commission some freelance help with all aspects of our ebook development line, including proofing and production work. The more help we get, the more we can do.
At the end of the day, this is what our Kickstarter campaign is all about—more cool stuff from your friendly neighborhood Book Smugglers. This includes...
2018 Season of Short Stories
A brand new season of short stories, under the theme “Awakenings." We will post an open call for submissions in October 2017 to run until December 31, 2017. We will pay $0.08 a word (capped at $800) for works between 1,500 and 17,500 words + 50% net royalties on ebooks. Just as in previous seasons, we aim to publish as many as possible new LGBTQIA//POC authors and diverse stories from all over the world. We also commission exclusive cover art from new, young, international illustrators.
Next year, we have the additional goal to create a print edition collecting all of the "Awakenings" short stories.
A Brand New Shiny Thing For 2018!
In addition to the works above, we will have an open call for paid contributors to The Book Smugglers. We will be commissioning essays and posts at $50 per post, and we are looking at securing four guest posts/essays per month, to showcase diverse voices in SFF fandom.
Where's the money going?
The proceeds from this Kickstarter will cover:
- “Awakenings” season of short stories funding (number of stories depends on length)
- Website redesign (front-end and back-end work)
- General production costs (editorial work, ebook production, original cover art, print edition of "Awakenings" anthology)
- Paid contributors to TheBookSmugglers.com
- Promotional costs (publicity and marketing)
- Rewards and shipping (including print editions)
- Administrative fees to Kickstarter and Amazon
The Book Smugglers
Thea James is a Hapa Filipina-American who works for Penguin Random House by day, and is a Book Smuggler by night. When she’s not here at The Book Smugglers or swamped in pending papers and proposals, she can be found blogging over at Kirkus with Ana. (If she’s not there either, try the local bar.)
Ana Grilo is a Brazilian who moved to the UK because of the weather. No, seriously. She works with translations IRL and hopes one day The Book Smugglers will be her day job. When she’s not here at The Book Smugglers, or hogging our Twitter feed, she can be found blogging over at Kirkus with Thea or podcasting with Renay at the Hugo Award-nominated podcast Fangirl Happy Hour.
- $18,100 - Increased payment to The Book Smugglers' contributors to $80 per post; WE DID IT!
- $20,000 - Should we reach $20,000, we are proud to announce that we will publish a brand new serialized short story collection from the supremely talented JY Yang! The collection will be available for free on our blog as well as for purchase in print and electronic formats. JY Yang's story is a secondary-world fantasy about a romance between two gods, set in an occupied city where being a god is illegal. It’s beautiful, challenging, queer, slightly experimental, and 100% awesome. WE DID IT!
- $24,000 - Should we reach $24,000, we will produce a beautiful limited edition print - a TENTH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL - containing all of our short stories from past seasons: Fairy Tales, First Contact, Superheroes and Gods and Monsters for a Summer 2018 release! All backers will receive advance notice and a chance to acquire a copy before anyone else.
UPDATE - FULLY FUNDED ADD-ON
SPECIAL THANK-YOU BONUS: SMUGGER STICKER UNLOCKED
As a token of our appreciation, we are giving everyone at the $25 level and above this awesome free sticker!
The sticker is also available as an add on for $5, for anyone below the $25 pledge! (In order to get the sticker as an add on, just click on "Manage Your Pledge", then "Change Your Pledge" , then just increase your pledge by $5.)
UPDATE - STRETCH GOAL #1 ADD-ON
SPECIAL THANK-YOU BONUS: SMUGGER ARMY PATCH UNLOCKED
As a THANK YOU BONUS, we are giving everyone at the $45 level and above this awesome free patch, designed by Ira Gladkova:
The patch is also available as an add on for $10, for anyone below the $45 pledge! (In order to get the patch as an add on, just click on "Manage Your Pledge", then "Change Your Pledge" , then just increase your pledge by $10.)
As of September 25, we have a new reward level which includes an exclusive tote bag!
If you are already a backer, you can add the "I am a book smuggler" tote bag to your pledge level by following the instructions below. This add-on requires your base pledge to be at the $20 tier or above. Instructions for the add-on can be found below:
Risks and challenges
We have been running the blog for almost 10 years and our publishing program for 4 years—as such, we have a pretty good grasp of our production timing and processes. Our biggest challenge is keeping to a schedule—and we have always managed to publish everything on time or with minimal delays (sadly, we can never predict when people will get sick or an election result will steamroll us).Learn about accountability on Kickstarter