Small Press-o-Mania!

By Christina Ladd on

About Christina Ladd

One of the Books & Comics editors at Geekly. She/her. Sailor Rainbow. Glitter and spite and everything bright.


In our recent podcast I talked about how small Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror presses are really doing some amazing work. And then I totally blanked on the specific recommendations. So here they are, fifteen small presses for you to check out, complete with links and apologies to the publishers I really do love.  

Neon Hemlock – I love Neon Hemlock books so much. They take their time and publish a small number of absolutely excellent novellas every year, as well as a few themed short story collections. I’m currently reading Let the Mountains Be My Grave, which is a dope title with an even more dope first line: “Every day is a good day to kill Nazis, I always say.” They also run Baffling Magazine, which is a great place to find stories on a more regular basis.

      Featured Title: And What Can We Offer You Tonight (Premee Mohamed)

Journalstone – There’s some crazy stuff in Journalstone’s catalog no matter what your taste in horror is. And they know their stuff—there are multiple Bram Stoker Award-winners like The Bone Weaver’s Orchard and one of my all-time faves The Rust Maidens.

      Featured Title: Murder Ballads and Other Horrific Tales (John Hornor Jacobs)

Undertow – I first found Undertow because they published A. C. Wise’s The Ghost Sequences, which also has a rad-as-hell cover. They also do horror, but their titles tend to be more measured, eerie stories with a lot of complex themes and often with historical settings.

      Featured Title: Helpmeet (Naben Ruthnum)

Subterranean Press – Sub Press is my splurge press, one that produces gorgeous, high-end hardcovers in partnership with huge names in publishing as well as with critical darlings. A fair number of their books are fancy editions of books you already know and love, like this elegant version of The Goblin Emperor. But they also have things like Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower, a Tamsyn Muir book not available anywhere else. And don’t worry, if you can’t do the high hardcover prices, they offer inexpensive ebooks, too.

      Featured Title: Unbreakable (Mira Grant)

Black Spot Books – The devil works hard, but Black Spot works harder—seriously, look at their extensive catalog of titles. They also do periodic open calls for new authors to contribute to their short story anthologies (like the recent collection all about Baba Yaga), which is extremely cool.

      Featured Title: Little Bird (Tiffany Meuret)

Erewhon – Badass books deserve badass presses, and everything about Erewhon certainly telegraphs badassery to me. From elegant, lyrical books like On Fragile Waves to YA übercool The Scapegracers, there are plenty of titles to knock off whatever kinds of socks you’re wearing.

      Featured Title: Folklorn (Angela Mi Young Hur)

Tenebrous – New Weird Horror is the name of Tenebrous Press’s game, and I am here for it. They have a small but growing list of titles, including several anthologies with excellent themes and a wicked mermaid story. Who doesn’t like horror mermaids? Correct, nobody.

      Featured Title: Your Body is Not Your Body (30+ trans and gender nonconforming authors)

Small Beer/Big Mouth House – An author and a reviewer run this press, so they know their stuff. They have wildly inventive, highly literary SFF titles, and one of their books is going to be a lifelong favorite of yours. For me, that’s Archivist Wasp, but for you it might be the cult classic A Stranger in Olondria, or the viciously hilarious In Other Lands. Or something entirely different.

       Featured Title: The Liminal People (Ayize Jama-Everett)

Weirdpunk – This press does really weird, dark horror, and was responsible for the debut of now-sensation Eric LaRocca’s Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke. (That cover is genius.) That edition was so popular it’s now completely sold out (a different edition is now available), but they have a number of other really great titles, each of which has a very different style.

      Featured Title: The Wingspan of Severed Hands (Joe Koch)

Apex Book Company – Slightly more toward the Sci-Fi than Fantasy but definitely publishing both, Apex does both great books like Plague Birds and great novellas like Winterglass, the first in a highly sexy, highly stylized trilogy retelling of the Winter Queen fairy tale.

       Featured Title: Do Not Go Quietly (various authors)

Metonymy – This press is committed to telling queer and marginalized stories, and everything I have read from them is absolute top-shelf. Tragically a lot of their titles are out of stock, like Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian), a love letter to a deceased friend in the form of a compendium on a cult TV show that never existed. Always a bit off the beaten path but always gorgeous, these titles are mostly light speculative fiction and magical realism.

      Featured Title: Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir (Kai Cheng Thom)

Dundurn/Rare Machines – RM has such a wide range of titles, but the unifying feature seems to be that they’re all really creative books that push boundaries in more ways than one. There are a lot of immigrant stories, a lot of stories of people torn between places and times, every single one of these books is on my list to read, no exaggeration. Next up is Yume, about a woman teaching English in Japan who encounters all kinds of monstrousness, and not just from the local yokai.

      Featured Title: Autonomy (Victoria Hetherington)

Tachyon – You never have to worry when you buy something from Tachyon; even if you’ve never heard of the author, the title, or even the genre, you know it’ll be good. You probably will have heard of some of the authors though, since they have titles from Peter S. Beagle and Brandon Sanderson. They publish a wide range of SFF titles and aren’t afraid of fun, the perfect example of which is the delightful Jillian vs. Parasite Planet, which is what would happen if Spaceman Spiff (of Calvin and Hobbes fame) had anxiety and a nanobot sidekick.

      Featured Title: The Bruising of Qilwa (Naseem Jamnia)

Unsung Stories – A small press in the UK (note to American readers: you can use that features established authors like Ailya Whiteley and newcomers like Verity Holloway, whose debut novel Pseudotooth I am currently enjoying. If you’re not sure where to start, pick one of their curated book bundles!

      Featured Title: To Catch a Moon (Rym Kechacha)

See also: Soft Skull Press – Though it doesn’t focus exclusively on SFF and/or Horror, Soft Skull has some amazing works of speculative fiction like Where the Wild Ladies Are and Oval. It also has some very punk books like The Good Fairies of New York and a personal (though non-SFF) favorite of mine, The Taqwacores.

      Featured Title: Not to Be Carried Away by the Big Bird (Hiromi Kawakami)

This list is definitely not exhaustive, so please let us know your favorite small presses – we can’t wait to check them out!

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