Hello!! Squiggle here. With the recent official announcement of this year’s Black Library pitching window, I thought I’d drag a few thoughts together on this here blog, and save you all trekking over t’interweb. Because I am kind and thoughtful like that.
To start then, what do the official guidelines say? Well you can find them here if you want to read them for yourself.
Essentially you have two options – a short fiction sample, or a longer novel submission.
Now, if you haven’t already started your novel submission, I probably wouldn’t bother. At Black Library Live! this year, Christian Dunn admitted that in all previous years where they have accepted novel submissions from unknown authors, they have only accepted one. Like, one EVER. And that by the entertaining Josh Reynolds and even then, they got him to write a short story first!
Laurie Goulding pretty much said that they know novel submissions take a lot of work, and they didn’t want to stop accepting them this year, knowing that people may have spent a fair amount of time over the winter preparing them. From next year though, no novel submissions.
So that brings us on to the short fiction sample. This is pretty simple if I am honest. You no longer need a fully fledged idea, rather they just want a title and 500 – 1000 of your finest prose! So, no pressure then, right?
This is either a godsend, for those of us who suck at writing synopsis, or not great, as it has removed one of the way you could stand out from the crowd. That is pretty much by the by, as them’s the rules.
Nick Kyme had some pretty interesting and informative things to say about Pitching to the Black Library here and I think we would all do well to remember them.
In previous years, there has been the option to submit numerous entries, working on the assumption that one of your ideas would pique the interest of one of the editors. This year, however, the emphasis appears to be on the quality of your prose, and not just the quality, but if it is what they are looking for. You can still submit numerous entries, but given the guidelines, I am not so sure that is a good idea – I think it’s either going to work, or it isn’t, and given how stupendously competitive this window is going to be, I’d be very tempted to spend the time honing your entry into a thing of beauty rather than getting distracted with numerous ideas.
As for what to write about, well I can’t help you there. I’d echo what Nick Kyme said though – it needs to be something that you are passionate about, but equally it needs to be something that sells. That doesn’t have to mean Space Marines, but it does, in my opinion, need to be something pretty core to the universe you are writing in – be that 40k or warhammer fantasy.
Personally, I think you can do much worse than to have a look at some of the 15th anniversary 1000 word shorts currently on the Black Library website, or if 79p just sticks in your craw, get over here and download 1000 words of FREE Horus Heresy action courtesy of Mr John French. Did I mention it was FREE?
As ever on the Bolthole we will waste countless hours when we should be writing pontificating about what we could/should/would be writing about, if only we had the time etc etc, but you can find the relevant thread over here it does go on a little bit, but I promise there is some good stuff in it.
All is left then is for me to wish you luck in your endeavours. I am pretty psyched to think that the right 1000 words could make all the difference between success and failure. So, no pressure then, right!?