Publishing Planets: Greenteeth Press

Tales to Survive the Stars is our fourth anthology project – with guest coordinators, Dan Hunt and Tom Wilkins, and featuring one-page graphic novels for the first time. Inspired by retrofuturism, we turn our attention to an era of chrome ray guns and murderous artificial intelligence. Science fiction that is ripped from the page of a post-war comic book, imagining far off planets and a doomed future where astronauts hurtle through galaxies never to return…

Imogen Peniston, Publisher

MINI REVIEW:

Tales to Survive the Stars brings together an endearing, vast array of stories and poems that collectively give a loving ode to the setting they’re set in and written about… space. This anthology marks the first of Greenteeth Press’ list to include one-page graphic novel stories, which are really quite successful. The vignette story-telling shines here with grand visuals that bring space to life in glorious silhouetted fashion, particularly Peterson’s Comet and Drakar. The scope of these science fiction stories across the board is grand, and the character moments that drive them shine bright – executed notably well in The Wolves of Desolation. There is plenty for science fiction fans  to love in this anthology – best enjoyed with a hot beverage and imaginative brain space. The one-page graphic novels really stick, making me yearn for more on this front.

IN CONVERSATION WITH: Imogen Peniston, Publisher

Tales to Survive the Stars is your fourth anthology project but the first one to feature one-page graphic novels. What inspired this decision, and what does this mean for budding (or existing) graphic novelists?

I’m not sure I remember who first suggested comics, but once the thought had been unleashed, we knew they had to be in Tales to Survive. Retrofuturism inspires so much colour and pop art that to leave them out would be a disservice to the genre. We believed a one-page comic would give the writers and illustrators a really good challenge – in much the same way a prose writer thrives on the limitations of writing a short story or a piece of flash fiction –we were excited to see what they would be able to do with such a small amount of space.

It also expands who can actually submit to Greenteeth; one of our most important ideals is to give everyone a voice, regardless of background or experience. Having trialed this new medium, we feel that we’re much better equipped to include more people that have a preference for writing outside of the traditional forms of an indie publisher. We cant wait to figure out what other new styles and narratives we can incorporate like this.

You have such a wonderful array of contributors – what is the submission process like from your perspective?

The submissions process is something team GT has tried to perfect from day one, especially for organisation freaks like us. We like to use some pretty intense spreadsheets to track each submission, what we think of them, what stage of the editing process they’re in… The whole document is colour coded with all the bells and whistles – it’s the same every time. We’re kind of proud about that in a very uncool way.

For Tales to Survive the Stars, we went into the project with a huge awareness that women can often be overlooked in the science fiction genre, so it was important for us remove any unconscious bias in the selection process. To do this, Dan and Tom made the decision to go into the initial first reads blind, without any prior knowledge, an indication of who the author was, or even read the emails they came in. The result was a particularly diverse anthology, making us feel really pleased to have done it that way, provoking us to consider it as something Greenteeth Press should adopt in the future. But there’s still a way to go. There can be such a boys-club attitude towards science fiction in particular, and we wanted to be a part of that effort that strives to see more women, more people of colour, and more trans and non-binary people breaking into the mainstream of the genre – something that can only happen when literary agents and publishers support that.

We love that at Greenteeth you are representing diverse voices and championing accessibility. What does diversity mean to you?

Diversity and accessibility have become buzzwords for the publishing industry, and can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For Greenteeth, these tenets were at the foundations of our plans from the very early days, but realising what this meant and how to do it impactfully took time. As a student, I personally didn’t have access to the work experience opportunities that others might have – be it geographical advantages or monetary – but at the end of the day I could still consider myself lucky to get the opportunities I did. Setting up Greenteeth, I wanted to create a platform that made everyone feel like a career in writing or publishing was accessible, and where every story that went to print reflected its readers in some kind of meaningful way.

With this in mind, diversity and accessibility to us means actively encouraging and seeking out inspiring people and their work to make a difference, especially those from under-represented backgrounds – because those are the people that need to see there’s a place for them in the industry.

Your next anthology is inspired by the Greenteeth team’s personal affection towards Yorkshire – worlds away from Tales to Survive the Stars! What is the behind-the-scenes process like when choosing the topic for your next publication?

Definitely worlds away, but that’s why we have so much fun planning each anthology! The first step always involves a lot of research to find out what people are talking and writing about – or even, more often than not, what people aren’t talking about.

Tales to Survive the Stars was Dan and Tom’s idea – they came to me after months of toiling with the concept until I finally let them at it – but the decision to centre a book around place and memory in Yorkshire was more a commentary on the predecessors of Tales to Survive the Stars.

Pondweed, our first anthology with a limited print run, focussed on landscape and folklore, and had a much more grounded feel to it. The book was humble, the kind of collection that could be read sitting by a fire. We wanted to return to that earthy feeling, finding excitement amongst the mundane. The Yorkshire anthology gives us and so many a chance to look homeward and remember where we came from, particularly after the year everyone has had stuck in one place without being able to venture out to see old friends and family. This next collection strays away from otherworldly oddities, and aims to bring people back down to Earth, so anyone with a story to tell reading this right now: Please, submissions are still open (and will be until 21st May).

What is the biggest challenge that you have faced so far as a publisher?

Like many independent publishers, the biggest challenge for Greenteeth Press has always been the finances. That’s not to say we’re bad at earning or keeping track of our money, but it has been difficult to establish a stable and consistent cash flow in our first few years of operation – a tough reality that any new business must face in the beginning, and sadly many refuse to actually talk about publicly.

We were incredibly proud to have received funding from York St John University for our collaboration on the Horrifying Tales anthology, something that has enabled some of team GT to now work on full-time basis, meaning that we can push our output to new levels, with five books coming out this year alone. Fulfilling Tales to Survive the Stars in a reasonable timeframe meant both Dan and Tom put in a lot of hours outside their day jobs; establishing a broader team as time goes on will help us expand and take on new challenges even more.

One way we’re combatting this issue is by applying for various grants and funding, as well as legitimising our operations by selling through booksellers and not exclusively from our own site. We’re also looking to expand our offering beyond books, including ebooks and possible merchandise. Even Tales to Survive the Stars plans to have something small coming out alongside the book, although much to Dan’s dismay it won’t be branded hats. Like anyone, we hope these incremental changes will make finances a problem of the past, but for now, we manage our resources and do what we can.

Thanks to Imogen Peniston (Publisher) for talking to us. Follow Greenteeth Press:
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