World Fantasy Convention – what do publishers NOT want to see?


This year I’ve been so lucky – WFC2013 is in my home city of BRIGHTON, UK, and I gave myself 4 days off work to immerse myself in the experience.

Yesterday I tried to put up a great video (shaky, but it’s the contents that count) of Neil Gaiman speaking,

Neil Gaiman speaking at WFC2013

Neil Gaiman speaking at WFC2013

but my internet connection chose last night to misbehave. I will get it up asap, but right now I want to relate the topic of one of today’s panels, entitled:

WHAT ELSE HAVE YOU GOT? What do editors and publishers never want to see again?

The panel consisted of :

Jo Fletcher (Jo Fletcher Books); Bella Pagan (TOR UK); Lee Harris (Angry Robot Books); Gillian Redfearn (Gollancz); Gordon Van Gelder (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction); Simon Taylor (Transworld).

So what did they have to say?

After starting with the ‘what do I not want to see in a covering letter’ – which can easily be remedied by READING SUBMISSION GUIDELINES for each publication, they moved onto what they feel are the up and coming areas:

  • stories based in cultures other than European
  • high concept, i.e. genre-crossing fiction of the type that can appeal to more than one market, such as technothrillers
  • re-telling of fairy tales with new and probably a dark slant
  • yet more genre mixing
  • steampunk (in the UK particularly)
  • military space opera (again, particularly in the UK)
  • contemporary fantasy – a category including urban fantasy, but with a broader basis

But the general consensus was that almost anything is acceptable, provided it has a good STORY and or an original VOICE.

Bottom line, what did they NOT want to see, ever?

Dinosaur erotica!!!



  1. How did I miss this convention! Head in the sand! Thank you for the post Deborah.
    On the comments from the panel…
    Colour me cynical. Every time I see that old saw ‘original voice’, I wonder at the flood of mainstream published me-toos that follow any really successful book…


    1. Oh dear Mark, pity you missed it. Are you aware of Loncon3 next year? The World Science Fiction Convention is in London 2014
      I totally agree with your cynicism – when questioned, the panel vehemently denied they were looking for copycat works, and yet what do they publish? Hm. Let’s no go there, methinks.
      I felt the most positive aspect was their keen stance on cross-genre books, which they’ve shied away from so often before because of book shop categorisation issues – now they’re saying its desirable, because it gives a wider pool of potential purchasers.
      Think readers might have known this some time ago…..


      1. Definitely on for Loncon3. Thanks! We should meet up there.
        Yes, genre & cross-genre are key marketing stances now, given they are major paths for readers to discover their interests in the bewildering choice of books out there. Neither the physical shops nor Amazon are really forward in this – Amazon has only allowed the category of Urban Fantasy in the last few months, and I still find bookshops where it doesn’t exist!


      2. You’re on!
        And I’m in the categorisation maze just now. My next release, coming in December, is truly Contemporary Fantasy, but will likely be better classified as Urban Fantasy, even though most of it takes place out in the countryside and not in a city.
        When I looked at the Contemporary section, it includes everything from GRR Martin to Robin Hobb to Tolkein – quite what is considered ‘contemporary’ about those, I have yet to figure out 😦


  2. Great post Deb!


    1. Thanks Deb! I have a couple more on the conventions still to come 🙂


      1. Always look forward to your great shares! 🙂


  3. Deborah, Thank you for the post. I used to attend every year. Somehow it fell off my radar. It was always great fun.


    1. This was my first – I’d love to go again, but it rarely comes to the UK.
      Perhaps when I’m a rich and famous author they’ll pay me to go…;)


  4. Well there is a British Fantasycon every year.


    1. And I plan on going to the next one! You too? And thanks for dropping by 🙂


  5. […] thought I’d share were a reiteration of a post from my World Fantasy Convention 2013 series: ‘What do publishers not want to see? although it’s more of the, ‘what are they looking for now’ […]


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