Opening submissions for 2015!

FOR RELEASE 12:00BST 22nd June 2015

The Kitschies announce the opening of submissions for 2015

The Kitschies, sponsored by Fallen London, literature’s most tentacular prize, are pleased to announce the 2015 judging panel and the opening of submissions for books published in the UK in 2015.

These five individuals will be tasked with finding the year’s most progressive, intelligent and entertaining books that contain elements of the speculative and fantastic. Winners receive a total of £2,500 in prize money, as well as one of the prize’s iconic hand-crafted Tentacle trophies.

The prize is now in its sixth year, with previous winners including Ruth Ozeki, Lauren Beukes, China Miéville, Karen Lord, Nick Harkaway, Kameron Hurley and Patrick Ness. Last year’s winners were Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle (Red Tentacle) and Hermione Eyre’s Viper Wine (Golden Tentacle), selected from a shortlist that included works by William Gibson, Monica Byrne, Hanya Yanagihara, Will Wiles, and Nina Allen.

The judges for the Red and Golden Tentacles, for novels and debut novels, are Sarah Lotz, James Smythe, Nikesh Shukla, Nazia Khatun, and Glen Mehn.

James Smythe said

“The Kitschies have long been one of the most interesting literary awards around – the criteria alone guaranteeing shortlists packed with books and writers that everybody should be reading – and talking about. I’m thrilled to be helping to judge it – there are some incredible writers out there, some astonishing ideas, and I hope we can find the best of them and deliver them to you on a tentacley platter.”

Last year, The Kitschies received a record 198 submissions from over 50 publishers and imprints, including self-published books. The prize is open to both digital and physical submissions.

Please see the for more information about the judges and the prize as well as to get submissions instructions.

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Reflections on judging the Kitschies 2014


We read 198 books for The Kitschies in 2014 – lots of data on the breakdown here – and I’ve got a LOT of thoughts, and at least some appeals to publishers.

Doing this is a labour of love: Yes, you get free books, and free books are always good, but it will stress your love and abilities as a reader, adjust your faith in humanity, and reward you with hidden gems and big, great art. There are times when you’ll despair at the mountain of books – and, when you’ve given up a weekend power-read through a dozen books which all turn out to be not for you, not for the award, poorly written, poorly edited, you’ll droop your head in shame and think “They’re right, all the naysayers saying that everything is getting worse.

Then you’ll pick up a book and it’s like slipping into a natural hot spring on a much-deserved holiday after a crazy set of months at work.

I found as well that, despite me having more books than I can possibly use, that I still want them all. That frisson of excitement when you go into a bookstore? Still there.

Still, there are some things I’d beg of publishers.

Publishers – send in your books early

We opened in June, and we had maybe a dozen books in in the first few heady months, keeping well on top of the lists; it wasn’t until around October that they started piling in and we starting experiencing the Fear of Words on the Page. I know you’re busy, but you spend 6-18 months working on a book, helping it through agents and writer’s fears – give it time to breathe. Send in a few packages of books across a few months. Give us lots of time to read and reflect on them.

Consider the award’s history before sending things in

198 books sounds like a lot – and it is. No one would mind, but actually many of the books just aren’t appropriate.

Progressive, intelligent, and entertaining is a broad brief, but it is a brief.

A shortlist is more of a reflection of a prize than an award win

Judging books is hard – we never pick the “best”, but something that’s emblematic of progressive, intelligent and entertaining. Which is lucky. The Guardian did a series of interviews with Booker prize juries, and it makes for enlightening reading. I think, if you want to understand a prize – not least The Kitschies – looking at the shortlist is a better indication, but it makes less interesting reading to say “we gave 5 books £200 each” than “THIS BOOK IS THE PROGRESSIVEST ENTERTENTACLIST AND INTELLIGENTER ONE OF THEM ALL and here’s £1,000 to prove it”.

No prize gets everything

We call books in (i.e. we email the publishers and beg them to send them in), but we don’t get everything. Some publishers don’t send them out. Sometimes a memo (we assume) gets lost inside a publisher, so they mean to but don’t. Some books we miss due to the onslaught of books breaking Posties’ backs starting in November. We might have missed your favourites. Don’t take it out on the judges.

It’s way, super fun

I’ve been personally honoured to read a shed-ton of books – many of which were really brilliant and couldn’t be on the shortlists due to size – and to work with the clever and intelligent Kim Curran, Frances Hardinge, Adam Roberts, and Cat Webb, who are all lovely, hard-working delightful people, who will drink wine from tupperware and bring Cthullhu cakes and cheese along. It’s a joy and a delight and something that you should really do if you ever get the chance.

Thanks, as always, to super sponsors Fallen London.

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Kitschies 2014 Datavore Infoflavour

Some data for the spreadsheet-and-538-loving people amongst you.

We had a massive 198 submissions, made bearable only by the extreme reading speed of the judges. Seriously, big hats off to all five: Frances Hardinge, Adam Roberts, Cat Webb (AKA Claire North), Kim Curran, and Glen Mehn, all of whom read an astonishing number of books in a very short time.

Some interesting thoughts and pieces of insight, presented as facts and to fuel what speculation it may fuel for the world at large.

152 books were submitted to the Red Tentacle, while 46 were submitted for Gold – almost exactly 3:1. This was across 54 publishing imprints (counting “Self” as 1 imprint. Sue us.)


While we had a 35%/65% split (F/M) split overall, that worked out just about even (51% F/49% M, or one book) over the Gold (Debut) tentacle(s) and 30% F/70% M for Red.


Self-published books were 25% F (representing all of 2 books) and 75% M (representing 6 of the 8 books). Yes, we had eight self-published books submitted.


(Anecdotally, several of the judges commented that the emerging talent was good – i.e. established writers, you’ve got to watch out)

Finally, we’re one of the only awards that accepts pure ebook submissions. Despite this, we only had 37 ebooks submitted – just under 19% of the total (and 7 of those were ebooks). This is down from previous years –No idea why, but maybe someone can talk about it?

We were going to stack the books up and measure them but couldn’t. Suffice it to say that it filled up an entire wall of one of our judge’s living room and caused their partner health and safety concerns.

Anyone got a van we can borrow to take somebooks to the charity shop?