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How I Choose What to Publish on Eraserhead Press

Our open submissions period (April-June) has ended and now comes the fun part of reading through all of the manuscripts and deciding which of them to publish! It is one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking parts of the year for me. Because all of the choices that I make now will directly impact how I spend my time, energy, and money for the next year or two (I am selecting manuscripts for publication in 2019 and beyond), it’s vitally important that I make decisions that I can stay excited about.

In this video that I posted during our open call, I spoke to authors about our submission window and explained what I was looking for. I also shared a little information about how I decide what I want to publish. For this blog post, I thought I would expand on the topic a little and share a worksheet that I developed in order to help myself judge each submission.

If you are an author, maybe you are curious about my thought process as an editor/publisher, or if you also work in publishing, maybe this will be useful to you. If so, please let me know! Basically, it all boils down to how excited I get about the book and about the author, but it is fun for me to have quantifiable criteria, so here it is!


Eraserhead Press
Submission Evaluation Worksheet

Word Count:
Back Cover Description:

First Impressions:


  • What is this book about? (person, place, problem)
  • On a scale of 1-10 how interested am I in the concept?
  • Does the opening grab me?
  • On a scale of 1-10 what is the readability/level of engagement I have for this book?
  • Is the plot interesting and does it deliver on its promise?

Writing style:

  • Does this writer have an interesting voice?
  • What do I like best about the style?
  • Is the book well-crafted?
  • Are there any things about the writing that turn me off?
  • Is the style similar to anyone else? If yes, how does it differ?
  • What is the mood of this book?
  • On a scale of 1-10 how would I rate the technique/quality of the craft?
  • How much editing does this book require to be ready to publish?
  • Would I be willing to publish this book even if no changes are made to this draft?


  • Who is the protagonist?
  • On a scale of 1-10 how interested am I in reading about the protagonist?
  • Is the dialog and character development interesting?
  • Are there other interesting characters? Who?


  • How is this story unique?
  • What makes this story stand out to a bizarro fiction reader?
  • What are the themes of this book?
  • On a scale of 1-10 how would I rate the creativity/originality?
  • Is this similar to anything else I have read or published? How?

Visual elements:

  • What visual elements stand out about this book?
  • What ideas for cover art does it give me?


  • Who is this book for?
  • Is there a specific person in my network I think would love this?
  • Why do people need this book?
  • What is the emotional impact of this book?


  • Am I already familiar with this author?
  • What is their brand?
  • Do they seem like a good fit for Eraserhead Press? Why? Why not?

Overall Assessment:

  • How happy am I with this manuscript overall?
  • On a scale of 1-10 how confident am I that I could sell this book to people?
  • Do I wish to accept or reject it?

Other comments:

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Eraserhead Press Announces Open Call for Submissions

Last year, for the first time in a decade, Eraserhead Press opened its doors to unsolicited submissions. It was an overwhelming success! We discovered superb work from writers who were new to us as well as authors who we’ve loved for a long time. So, we’ve decided to do it again! If you have written a bizarro book you think belongs in our catalog, we want to hear from you!

Our reading period is April 1 – June 30, 2017.
From the submissions page:

What we are looking for:
  • Eraserhead Press is seeking original novellas and novels of 20,000 to 100,000 words in length that fit into the Bizarro Fiction category.
  • We want surprising, unique, well-crafted weird stories with compelling plots, eccentric characters, and never-before-seen concepts.
  • We want a balance of both plot and character – we love weird characters with weird problems in weird places. We are looking for exciting concepts that make people say “I have to read that!” and well-developed characters they can fall in love with along the way.
  • We’re most drawn to darkly absurd tales that are addictive to read and contain a strong emotional core. We love fiction that is both heart-rending and fun. While it may or may not be funny, we are interested in more than just a joke. If you can make us laugh and cry at the same time or if you can both gross us out and turn us on, we will love your book.
  • We are looking for entertaining and accessible stories that speak to a specific audience. Will your book appeal to vegan punks? Riot grrls? Overworked airline pilots? Cos-players? Fans of 80s New Wave?  If you’ve identified the audience for your work, please tell us in your book description.
  • Multiple submissions are okay – during our open submission period we are open to reading as many manuscripts as you feel would meet our criteria but we are only interested in your best work. Bring it on!
  • We have high standards – we have been the leading publisher of Bizarro Fiction since 1999 and have worked with everyone from brand new authors to established heavy hitters. We have gained a cult following for our high-quality boundary-pushing weird fiction and are looking for books that will top everything else we’ve ever published. The best way to understand what we are looking for is to familiarize yourself with our catalog. If you feel you’ve written something completely unique that stands apart from everything being published today, then we want to see it!

For more details please see our full submission guidelines.