Although I'm sure most of us working in the horror arena will have heard of most of the small presses listed below (in many cases, you might even have heard of all of them, even been published a few), I think it's worth giving them some extra exposure through the hallowed site that is Ginger Nuts.
In many of these cases, they are tiny outfits run by people who are writers themselves, but their size (or lack thereof) in no way diminishes their quality, or the enthusiasm and professionalism they bring to their releases. In many respects, I find they easily give the bigger publishers a run for their money, from production standards through to calibre of writers and stories.
Small presses are often the starting place for most of us who have a desire to write and be published, and without them, I truly believe most of us would struggle to get our stories an audience. So, for this article, I'm going to list a few presses I feel deserve wider attention because I've read and enjoyed some of their releases, and/or because I know many of the writers, editors and publishers involved.
April Moon Books
First up is this Canadian outfit run solely by the enthusiastic workhorse that is Neil Baker. Neil started AMB just over a year ago and in that time his publishing press has released five anthologies and one novella. Three of these anthologies - Amok!, Stomping Grounds and Ill-Considered Expeditions, and featuring writers like Patrick Loveland, Jess Landry, Gerry Griffiths, Kerry G.S. Lipp, Ellen Denton and many more - are edited by Neil himself and are part of his continuing series called Short Sharp Shocks, showcasing the very best in new and interesting dark fiction; a further two - Dark Rites Of Cthulhu and Flesh Like Smoke - are both edited by the estimable Brian M. Sammons and feature stories from such luminaries as William Meikle, T. E. Grau, Jeffrey Thomas, Christine Morgan, Damien Angelica Walters, and many, many more. The novella is Black Star, Black Sun by Rich Hawkins and is a great piece of bleak cosmic horror set in the sleepy English countryside (I know, because I've read it).
Neil is dedicated to bringing a wide array of talent and subject matter to the public and he has number of great things planned for the future, including some interesting projects such as one featuring that famous spy, James Bond, and a homage to the excesses of the classic Hammer film ethos.
For details of AMB releases and submission calls, check out their site here:
Boo Books are a small outfit based in Derby, UK and started by Alex Davis who serves as editor as well as being the all-round head honcho. Alex has been involved in writing and publishing in one capacity or another for a long time and set up Boo Books in 2013 to bring writers in the east and west Midlands to wider attention. He is also instrumental in organising the annual speculative fiction event, Edge-Lit, which takes place at Derby Quad and hitn its fourth birthday in 2015. This event is going from strength to strength and is fast becoming the place for genres writers to attend.
Although BB have only released four books to date - three well received anthologies and the acclaimed novel The Electric by Andrew David Barker - the reviews for these books have been glowing. I'm sure BB will continue to go from strength to strength, especially with the support of the wider community.
Crowded Quarantine Publications was set up in 2011 by writer Adam Millard and his wife Zoe. In just a few short years the press has released an impressive catalogue of titles and have attracted some big names for their anthologies. They tend towards fast-paced, atmospheric and violent tales, but far from being simply a shock, gore press, they have a wildly diverse range of writers. Although the company is based in the Midlands, their writers hail from all over the UK and even internationally.
Currently released works include novels and novellas by prolific writer Craig Saunders - The Estate, A Home By The Sea amongst others; the collection Aberrations Of Reality by Aaron J. French; The Way Of All Flesh by Kevin Walsh; the anthology Of Devils & Deviants which features stories by such authors as Graham Masterton, Maynard Sims, C.W. LaSart, Mandy DeGeit and Ken MacGregor amongst others; many of Adam's own works including The Human Santapede and the 'Dead' series; and the acclaimed first novel by author Rich Hawkins, The Last Plague. CQP have also secured the right to Rich's sequel, The Last Outpost which will be out in late September, and I can tell you, if you consider yourself a true aficionado of horror writing, this is one book you won't want to miss. These are just a few of CQP's titles and if I sound a bit biased, it's because I am.
Gray Friar Press
Gray Friar Press is run solely by the one man writing and publishing sensation Gary Fry (and if you haven't read any of Gary's many, many works, you're really missing a treat) and is based in Whitby, the true home of Stoker's Dracula. The press is dedicated to bringing some of the best of the UK's literary horror writing to the public, with a keen interest in new and emerging writers. In the nearly ten years since its inception, GFP and many of its releases have won numerous awards and many stories have gone on to be included in a number of 'Best Of' anthologies and collections.
Just some of the press's releases include short story collections by Carole Johnstone, Thana Niveau, John Llewellyn Probert and Stephen Bacon, the six novella collection The Condemned from Simon Bestwick. It is also the publisher of the popular and ongoing series, Terror Tales of..., edited by bestselling novelist Paul Finch.
Horrific Tales Publishing
Horrific Tales Publishing (not to be confused with Horrified Press) was started in 2011 by writer Graeme Reynolds, launching with his own novel, High Moor. That book went on to great reviews from a variety of sources and was a semi-finalist in the Stoker awards. Though they publish only novels, the press has garnered a number of strong works in the four years it has been in existence.
Aside from Graeme's own novels (HM was followed by a sequel, Moonstruck, and will conclude with a final volume Blood Moon in late 2015), Horrific Tales has published the 'Whisper' trilogy by Michael Bray, Benjamin Kane Etheridge's preferred edition of his novel Bottled Abyss, Ken Goldman's Of A Feather and William Holloway's Lucky's Girl amongst other works. Although HTP aren't normally open to submissions, they do run a very short window at various points through the year, so if you're a budding writer, keep an eye on that.
KWP was an imprint originally started by David N. Shires (who still helps out with various design needs, through Image Designs), which then passed to Theresa Derwin and is now changing hands to be helmed by Steve Shaw (of Great British Horror t-shirts fame). Under Theresa, the imprint saw such varied anthologies as Potatoes, Worms, Sunny With A Chance Of Zombies, Chip Shop Of Horrors and Killer bees From Outer Space, amongst others, featuring writers such as Phil Sloman, James Everington, Christine Morgan, Stewart Hotston, Ross Warren, Freda Warrington, Lily Childs and many, many more.
Now that the imprint has passed to Steve Shaw, he promises to take it further and to greater success. Under his own press, Black Shuck Books, he has recently released the anthology Wild Things, attracting such talent as Laura Mauro, Calum Chambers and Anna Taborska, among others. With such a strong line-up for that, there's no doubt Steve will attract the finest writers to his planned projects for Knightwatch.
Pendragon Press was founded by Christopher Teague in 2000, to bring the very best novels, novellas and short stories by some of the best practitioners in the horror, science-fiction and fantasy fields. Run solely by Chris for a number of years, the press has put out a respectable body of work, with many of the stories nominated for various accolades including BFS and Shirley Jackson awards. In recent times, Pendragon have taken on the services of Robert Spalding and Ross Warren (himself the co-owner of Dark Minds Press, with Anthony Watson) to assist in its latest publishing venture - an pen submission period for the very best horror novellas.
Amongst its many, many publications, Pendragon boasts such works as; The Reef by Mark Charan Newton; The Extremist and Other Tales by Paul Finch; Silversands by Gareth L. Powell; To Usher The Dead by Gary McMahon; The Derelict by Neil Williams; and Drive by Mark West (nominated for a BFS award in the best novella category). The next few months promise more from the likes of Mark West and Stephen Bacon, and it certainly looks like the future of Pendragon is bright.
This small press was started in 2011 by three passionate advocates of dark fiction; Julianne Snow and Nina D'Arcangela - both writers in their own right - and editor Gloria Bobrowicz. Their only brief, to bring the very best in talented new writing to a wider public. Though they accept work of varying styles and genres, they tend towards the dark and the beautifully grim. In addition to novels, novels and anthologies, they also produce a online magazine for free download, which comes out every two months. Although relatively new, they are as professional and dedicated as you could wish for in a press, and work tirelessly to promote their authors.
Some of their many releases include The Undying Love by Greg McCabe, The Angels of Autumn by Joshua Skye, Gape by Aiden Truss; the anthologies Childhood Nightmares: Under The Bed (featuring stories by Colin F. Barnes, Joshua Skye and Jack Wallen, amongst others), Now I Lay Me Down To Reap... (featuring stories by Amber Keller, Lori Michelle and Adrian Tchaikovsky, amongst others), Fear: Of The Water (featuring such writers as Kerry G.S. Lipp, Blaise Torrance and Zachary O'Shea) and their most recent anthology, Between The Cracks (with stories by Rebecca Fung, E.F. Schraeder and Sean Keller).
So, that's just a small selection of the many, many great small presses out there. Others include The Sinister Horror Company, Spectral Press, PS Publishing, Crystal Lake Publishing, Undertow Publications, to mention just a few. Some are invite only, some hold open submissions, but if you have any interest at all in innovative and new dark fiction and horror, you really should be checking them out, and reading their works.
I'll leave it there for now - though I may do another of these shoutouts in the future - but please comment below if you have a favourite press you feel deserves recognition.
PAUL M. FEENEY