Small Press, Big Stories: World Weaver Press
Small Press, Big Stories is a monthly column focusing on small and independent presses from around the world. This month’s featured publisher is World Weaver Press.
So far, all of the independent presses we’ve featured have been based in Britain. This time however, we’re off across the Atlantic to talk to World Weaver Press, home of some rather intriguing anthologies as well as very modern takes on urban fantasy.
Please introduce yourselves! What’s the story behind World Weaver Press?
I’m Sarena Ulibarri, the current Editor-in-Chief of WWP. Behind the scenes, making this whole thing actually work, we have assistant editors Rhonda Parrish, Trysh Thompson, Laura Harvey, and Cori Vidae, and publicist Kristen Bates. World Weaver Press was founded in 2012, and I took over it in 2016. We publish fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal. We started off as a digital-first press, but these days we create paperbacks for almost all of our books and publish them at the same time as the ebook.
What has been the biggest moment of WWP’s story so far? Any particular release that has helped to define you?
I think our biggest moment may still be coming. We recently contracted the English rights for the Brazilian anthology Solarpunk: Ecological and Fantastic Stories in a Sustainable World, and we’re working with a translator to publish it in English in 2018. That was an exciting deal for me to broker, since it’s our first foray into translation, and since this was the first book in the world to use the term “solarpunk,” an emerging aesthetic of eco-friendly and optimistic futures. We’re also doing our first Kickstarter with this project, to help offset some of the translation costs. This book may help introduce our press to a lot more people, and could end up helping to define us.
As far as what we’ve already published, though, the two that probably best define us are Rebecca Roland’s patriarchy-smashing epic fantasy Shards of History series, and Sara Dobie Bauer’s vampire beach-read Bite Somebody.
Your themed anthology series are particularly interesting – ranging from science fiction (Far Orbit) to fairy tales (Fae and Corvidae), they look like a real strength of WWP. Do you find them difficult to put together, do you get flooded with submissions for them?
Themed anthologies are a ton of fun, and we’ll be doing more of them in the future for sure. I’m opening for science fiction submissions in August for Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers, and we’ll be taking submissions for two new fairy tale anthologies in 2018, one from Rhonda Parrish and one from Kate Wolford. We usually receive around 100 to 200 submissions for each anthology submission window, sometimes fewer if the theme is more narrow – for example, we only received 45 total submissions for Covalent Bonds, an anthology of geek romance stories. The primary editor will shortlist stories as they read, and then one of the other editors will read the shortlist and give feedback that helps whittle it down to the final table of contents. The most difficult part is usually making those final decisions.
One of our recent anthologies, Equus, which features stories about horses, unicorns, Pegasus, and other horse-related mythology, had 34 stories on the shortlist, and we narrowed it down to 19 for the final volume. The anthologist Rhonda Parrish did substantial edits with some of the authors to shorten their stories so they could fit, and kept sending me emails to try to bargain for a higher word count limit. We’ll often post a “submissions statistics” blog after a submission window closes, because it can be helpful for writers to see the odds and understand how we make decisions.
And speaking of submissions, you also take general novel submissions too, don’t you, with a subs window coming up later this year?
Yes! During the month of September 2017, we’ll be open for novel and novella submissions, looking specifically for speculative romance. That might mean paranormal romance or urban fantasy, but we’re also open to science fiction romance or epic fantasy romance, or somewhere in between. We’re not primarily a romance publisher, but several of our editors love the kissing books, and that’s the niche we’re looking to fill in our list at the moment. After that, we have several series in progress that we need to finish out before we’ll be open to novel submissions again. We’re a small press, after all, and can only produce a handful of books each year.
Vanity in Dust, by Cheryl Low, is coming up in August. It looks intriguing – sort of urban fae crossed with the decadence of Moorcock’s End of Time characters – what’s the story here?
That’s actually a very good comparison title, though Vanity in Dust keeps it strictly fantasy. Vanity in Dust is a story about power and passion in a realm of magic where pixie dust is a drug steaming in every cup of tea, sedating the powerful under the deteriorating control of the Queen. It’s the first of a four or five book series, so the story is just barely beginning. Vanity in Dust lays the groundwork for some incredibly exciting things to come.
What’s next for WWP? Can we find you at conventions?
Our editors and authors are geographically spread out, so we don’t make it to as many conventions as we’d like to, but you can find us at a few. Rhonda Parrish will be at When Words Collide in Calgary, Alberta, where there will also be an Equus anthology launch party with a bunch of the contributors. We’ll have a table at Bubonicon in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the end of August, and again at Imaginarium in Louisville, Kentucky in October. We’re hoping to make an appearance at the 2018 WorldCon in San José, California.
That Kickstarter I mentioned earlier runs August 14th to September 14th, and then we’ll have two more fall/winter releases this year: SonofaWitch!, an anthology of humorous stories about magic spells gone awry, and Mrs. Claus, an anthology of holiday-themed stories that put Santa’s mysterious spouse in the spotlight.
Which Game of Thrones character would you bring back to life, and why?
I have to go with Margaery Tyrell. She had some kind of grand scheme in the works that was cut short by the wildfire explosion. She knew how to play the game; I think she could have won it all.