Market report on Queen of Swords Press
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Queen of Swords Press is a new genre publisher started by Catherine Lundoff, an award-winning writer and editor from Minneapolis. Lundoff is the author of Silver Moon and Out of This World: Queer Speculative Fiction Stories and editor of the forthcoming pirate anthology, Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space), as well as a number of short stories in different genres. 

I asked Lundoff a few questions about Queen of Swords Press, including when they'll open for their next submission window.

Interview with  Catherine Lundoff of Queen of Swords Press

What inspired you to launch Queen of Swords Press? What sets your press apart from other book publishers?

I had been toying with the idea of starting my own press for a number of years, but life kept getting in the way. I didn't really start planning until my primary traditional publisher and I came to a parting of the ways about five years ago. Shortly after that, I was offered, but turned down, a bad contract for a multibook deal with a different traditional publisher that turned out to be on the brink of bankruptcy (that happened shortly thereafter). After that, I really started planning, taking classes, getting my legal and financial ducks in a row and so forth. Queen of Swords Press officially launched in January 2017.

One of my goals for Queen of Swords is have an imprint that publishes science fiction, fantasy and horror with historical elements. Think steampunk, alternate history, mannerpunk, Gothic-style ghost stories, Regencies in space and the like. The kinds of books I’m thinking about include Everfair by Nisi Shawl, Sorcery and Cecilia by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, the Dobrenica Series by Sherwood Smith, “A Dead Djinn in Cairo” by P. Djeli Clark, Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, The Armor of Light by Melissa Scott and Lisa Barnett and Alexei Panshin’s Anthony Villiers novels. To the best of my knowledge, there aren’t any other genre presses specializing in this area. Along with that, I want QoSP’s catalogue to include a diverse range of authors and books: LGBTQ+ protagonists and authors, international voices, older women as heroes, protagonists with disabilities and authors and protagonists who are people of color. I want to publish books that I am passionately enthusiastic about.

So far you've released six books, including titles by yourself, Emily L. Byrne and Alex Acks. What new books are on horizon? Do you have plans to increase the number of books you publish each year?

The next title will be Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space), an anthology of multi-genre pirate stories that I’m editing. This will be out in December and includes stories by such authors as Ginn Hale, A.J. Fitzwater, Megan Arkenberg, Joyce Chng and Ed Grabianowski. In 2019, I’m planning on publishing Alex Acks’s next set of linked steampunk stories and I’m hoping to release Blood Moon, the sequel to my werewolf novel Silver Moon. I’m planning on opening up to book submissions for a few weeks in November and December and we’ll see how that goes from there. I’m also discussing doing another anthology with an editor friend so that may be 2019’s Book 3. At this point, I’m working full time, writing, editing, doing events and very occasionally, teaching, plus running the press so I think three titles per year will be the maximum for a bit. If I can get my writing and the publishing to do well enough for me to transition to part time work, I will definitely be planning on publishing more books. But we’ll see how it goes. I published four books in 2017 and that was way too much work.

What kind of books are you currently looking for? Also, what rights do you require from authors?

I would love to see a good mannerpunk novel with a diverse cast of characters engaged in some of the things that I love reading about, like plotting and swordplay. Alternately, I’d like to see some steam, diesel or solar punk in a non-Western setting. But really, what it comes down to is that Queen of Swords Press is a very small operation so the current criteria is “Books Catherine gets excited about” and I have reasonably eclectic tastes. My advice to any writers thinking about submitting something would be to follow the pitch guidelines that I set up when they’re ready and see how it goes.

For the anthology, I asked for nonexclusive rights to the author’s stories and was open to reprints. If I crowdfund the next anthology, I would likely want First North American Serial Rights and a six month exclusive window (but wouldn’t ask for that unless I could pay for it). For book length work, I’m currently asking for a five year term, author retains all copyrights and any subsidiary deals need to be negotiated between the press and the author. I’m requesting first refusal rights for direct book length sequels. QoSP is too small to pay an advance at this point in time, but I hope to grow into that. I am open to talking to literary agents, FYI, since that has come up with other small presses, but suspect that won’t happen until QoSP is a bigger operation.

When is your next open submission call?

I’m hoping to open up for a few weeks in late November and stay open for pitches through December. These will be for book length works, which can include novels or a single author collection like Alex’s linked novellas, which share characters and worldbuilding.

Are you planning to do any more anthologies along the lines of Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space)? Any chance new anthologies will have an open submission call? 

Definitely. I’d like to do an anthology of mannerpunk stories at some point in the next year or two and perhaps something with an alternate history theme after that. I sent out a few invites for Scourge, but most of the stories I accepted came through the open call. I specified that I was open to protagonists of any gender orientation and/or sexuality and that I wanted to see international contributions as well as writers from the U.S. Pirates are a popular topic so I got submissions from authors in fourteen countries and now have a TOC that includes both established authors and first time authors. Ideally, I’d like to crowdfund the next anthology so I can pay everyone more. But will be mixing invites with an open call, regardless.

Note: For stories in anthologies Queen of Swords Press currently pays $100 for a new story and $50 for a reprint.