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A brand new season of short stories and novelettes, new contributors to The Book Smugglers blog, a new look and more
A brand new season of short stories and novelettes, new contributors to The Book Smugglers blog, a new look and more
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Personal Essay: MY SMUGGLING EXPERIENCE by Octavia Cade

Posted by Ana Grilo
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Hello everybody! It's day 3 and we are already at a staggering 24% funded! Thank you so much for your help so far and please keep sharing/boosting The Smugglers Signal! 

In the meantime, a few words from one of our lovely writers/contributors, the award-winning author Octavia Cade!


MY SMUGGLING EXPERIENCE

This feels a little like writing a reference. Not that I’ve ever written one of those, but rest assured I’d find a way to get out of it if some daft muppet expected me to help them out to the detriment of someone actually competent. I mean, I’m nice but I’m not that nice, and you don’t have money to blow on every Kickstarter come your way.  

But Ana and Thea are competent. I’ve not seen a single shred of muppetry, and they’ve been publishing my stuff for a few years now. We initially crossed paths on their first short story season, when I dithered and second-guessed before sending in “The Mussel Eater”, which ended up being nominated for a BSFA award. I’d like to say it was my dulcet prose that did it, but they sourced a dream of an artist and anyone looking at that story’s cover – at any of their covers, actually – was tempted to pick it up regardless of what was inside.  

Art by Kristina Tsenova
Art by Kristina Tsenova

So what, you say. Getting a decent cover isn’t rocket science, there’s more to publishing than that. And while I don’t know the ins and outs of books on shelves, I know that their editing is sympathetic and helpful, they never miss a deadline (not like yours truly, and they’re even nice when I do that), and they pay promptly and well. I regularly nag other writers to contribute to their slush pile, secure in the knowledge that, if accepted, they’ll be treated fairly and professionally.  

But even bad publishers can get some books right. You might have just had the one good experience, Octavia, you say. Well, if Ana and Thea have been trying to fool me into an inflated perception of their abilities they’ve kept it up marvellously, kudos to their powers of deceit, because I’ve had three (four?) projects with them now and they’ve all gone beautifully. 

The reason I dithered about sending in “The Mussel Eater” was that I had another fairy story that might have done just as well, though it was somewhat darker. No, it was a lot darker. (Actual muppets might have set themselves on fire, just to end the pain.) Not everyone would have published The Convergence of Fairy Tales, and it was a big ask for the Smugglers. They’re not an exclusively horror publisher; they’ve done a lot better out of lighter and happier tales I suspect. But credit where it’s due, they had the gumption to take on that hideous little monster of a book. They got Kristina Tsenova back to do the art, they pointed out the flaws in the bloodshed with every appearance of sincere interest, and when it won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for best novella, handed out by my morbid compatriots, they were I think even more excited than I was.

Art by Kristina Tsenova
Art by Kristina Tsenova

What more can you ask from a publisher? 

That they publish your non-fiction as well as your fiction, naturally. Correctly surmising that they probably weren’t going to get anything non-horrifying out of me, they stood calmly aside while I mumbled on about Food & Horror for the better part of a year, infesting their site with long and fascinating screeds about gingerbread houses and killer sharks. That series won me another Sir Julius Vogel, and they’re about to publish an extended edition of the collection. So, three complete projects with them – two of which were award-winning, and the third award-nominated – and another in the pipeline. When I say my experience with them has been positive, I know of what I speak. 

Are you surprised that I’ll be sending in a story when their new submission call opens? Because I will be. I don’t know what the story will be about, but I’ll find something, because the prospect of working with them again is just too good to pass up. 

If this is a reference, it’s an absolutely positive one. If you donate to their Kickstarter they’ll use your donation for publishing good. They’ll use it for diverse writing, for challenging writing, and for truly awesome art. They won’t waste your money, they’ll do what it says on the tin. 

 *shakes collecting box*  

  

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