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Our Ten Favorite Sci-Fi Reads of 2022

To celebrate Science Fiction Day, which is today on January 2nd, 2022, we asked DPP contributors to recommend us their favorite science fiction that they read in 2022! And we got some really awesome answers… (all spelling/grammar is sic the original recommender 😀 )

The Red Scholar’s Wake by Aliette de Bodard. D. V. Morse’s recommendation: “lesbian pirates in space with lots of Vietnamese culture throughout. And so much more I want to say that I keep deleting because spoilers.”

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. Cap’s recommendation: “a ‘motley crew/found family on a perilous journey’ story that centers queer, poly, and otherwise non-traditional characters and relationships. Book 1 of a Hugo-winning series, female author.”

The Testing (The Testing Trilogy) by Joelle Charbonneau. Annabeth Lynch’s recommendation: “I absolutely loved it and I never see people talk about it. It’s distopian sci-fi.”

Threadbare (Storm Fronts Series) by Elle E. Ire. boneturtle’s recommendation: “an action-packed futuristic scifi story featuring ruthless mercenary and cyborg Vick, whom no one (including herself) believes is human, and her lover and handler Kelly, the only person who trusts her implicitly. A simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking lesbian romance that confronts the nature of love and humanity, and what it means to be the hero when you feel like the villain.”

Firebreak by Nicole Kornher-Stace. Adrian Harley’s recommendation: “one of my favorite books I read this year. It’s got a fun adventure setup about a VR gamer who starts discovering the truth behind the star NPCs of the VR game, PLUS the most chillingly plausible dystopia I’ve ever read, bar none, PLUS an aro/ace protagonist and a central platonic relationship.”

The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal. Dei Walker’s recommendation: “it’s The Thin Man in SPAAAACE with a heroine with chronic pain, a really deftly handled non-gender-binary selection of characters, and queer.”

Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell. alec’s recommendation (without comment).

Scythe by Neal Shusterman. nottesilhouette’s recommendation: “the whole series has queer characters in it though the first book is really focused on like 5 people that are all kinda straight. and I am queer, and I like it.”

Global Examination by Mu Su Li. Nina Waters’s recommendation: “queer semi-dystopian vaguely sci-fi manhua shenanigans!”

The Martian by Andy Weir. Rascal Hartley’s recommendation: “not queer, but definitely one of my absolute favorite reads.”

What were YOUR favorite science fiction reads of 2022? We’d love to hear about them!

Who We Are: Duck Prints Press LLC is an independent publisher based in New York State. Our founding vision is to help fanfiction authors navigate the complex process of bringing their original works from first draft to print, culminating in publishing their work under our imprint. We are particularly dedicated to working with queer authors and publishing stories featuring characters from across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. Love what we do? Sign up for our monthly newsletter and get previews, behind-the-scenes information, coupons, and more.

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December Storygraph Giveaway: She Wears the Midnight Crown Anthology!

What’s this? Why, it’s Duck Prints Press doing another giveaway on Storygraph! Our two masquerade-themed anthologies, She Wears the Midnight Crown and He Bears the Cape of Stars, will be distributed to crowdfunding-campaign backers in early January, and listed for sale on our website in late February or March. Didn’t back the campaign and want to get a copy of She Wears the Midnight Crown, which features wlw stories set at unusual masquerades or masquerade-inspired settings, before the official release? Well, this is your moment!

What is Storygraph? The awesome independently owned-and-operated alternative to Amazon-owned Goodreads! Working with them as a publisher doing this giveaways has been phenomenal: they’re organized, receptive to feedback, interested in innovative, and responsive. We’re thrilled to continue working with them on giveaways. If you’ve wanted a Goodreads alternative for organizing your reading, posting your reviews, logging your book collections, and more, you should definitely check them out.

What is Duck Prints Press? We’re the indie publisher dedicated to helping creators transition from creating primarily fanworks to creating primarily original works! We especially focus on publishing works featuring LGBTQIA+ characters.

What is She Wears the Midnight Crown? Along with He Bears the Cape of Stars, She Wears the Midnight Crown is one of a a pair of anthologies which share the same theme, but feature different kinds of relationships. For these anthologies, we sought pitches for stories featuring masquerades – the more unusual, the better! While we love classic “historical setting, mistaken identity” shenanigans, we’re looking for stories more out-of-the-box (under-the-mask?) than that. 17 authors contributed wlw stories to this collection, and the works range from heartwarming fluff through dystopian drama!

Want your own copy of this awesome, innovative collection? Enter our giveaway on Storygraph NOW!

Holding out for a copy of He Bears the Cape of Stars? Don’t despair – we’ll be doing a Storygraph giveaway for that one in January, ending February 18th, so keep your eyes peeled and your “enter now!” button click-finger ready!

Who we are: Duck Prints Press LLC is an independent publisher based in New York State. Our founding vision is to help fanfiction authors navigate the complex process of bringing their original works from first draft to print, culminating in publishing their work under our imprint. We are particularly dedicated to working with queer authors and publishing stories featuring characters from across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.

Love what we do? Want to make sure you don’t miss the announcement for future giveaways? Sign up for our monthly newsletter and get previews, behind-the-scenes information, coupons, and more!

Want to support the Press, read about us behind-the-scenes, learn about what’s coming down the pipeline, get exclusive teasers, and claim free stories? Back us on Patreon or ko-fi monthly and read your fill!

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“To Drive the Hundred Miles” by Alec J. Marsh: Cover Reveal!

The wait is over – here is the gorgeous cover for To Drive the Hundred Miles by Alec J. Marsh. The novella is coming out this Wednesday, December 21st, and you’re not going to want to miss out!

Have you been seeing our promos and thinking, “Yes! I need to read that!” Well, make sure you add it to your To Be Read pile on Goodreads and/or Storygraph!

Snow falls softly as dark descends early, and Will returns home to Serendipity, Washington, for the holidays. What awaits him at home?

Some conflict.

Some opportunities.

Some magic.

Some coffee.

And a lot of possibilities for his future…

We’ll have one more teaser coming out tomorrow, before the book is released on Wednesday, so make sure you’re following us on social media to make sure you don’t miss a thing!

Want all the deets and the ability to claim free novellas? Back us on Patreon or ko-fi – $10/month and $25/month can get this and other titles from our catalog for free!

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How to Write a Great Query Letter

Part 2 of a 2-part series of guest posts by Alec J. Marsh. Part 1, “Why Query Letters are Good, Actually,” came out last week; you can read it here!

Alec is also the author of Duck Prints Press’s forthcoming novella To Drive the Hundred Miles, about a young man coming home for the holidays and finding more than he expected. It’s coming out December 21st, 2022. They know what they’re talking about, as an author and about a writer-writing-about-writing, so read on and learn!

Now that you’ve read the first post in this series, and had a week to reflect on it… are you convinced yet? Are you ready to acquire the most important marketing skill of your career? Great! 

If you’re primarily interested in how to pitch to Duck Prints Press specifically, there will be a full post about that coming out in the near future. But I promise, these skills will help you whatever your writing aspirations are. 

1. The Really Boring Part

Most queries open with a paragraph called “metadata.” This is all the marketing stuff that you need to get out of the way so your agent/editor knows what kind of book it is. This includes 

  • Title: Self-explanatory 
  • Length: This is vitally important for traditional publishing. If you are a debut author and your story isn’t within the accepted range, you’ll get automatically rejected by most agents. There are very good industry reasons for that, but discussing that’s a different article. If you want to look at the averages, check out this link.
  • Genre and age range: This is practical for marketing and readership purposes, and it also puts the summary in context. 
  • Comparative (or Comp) Titles: This is a tricky one, and a full discussion on selecting appropriate comparative titles could easily be its own separate blog post, but the short version is that you should pick titles that your book can be compared to. That can be descriptive—”Supernatural but set in Eastern Europe”—or genre—”For fans of Tamora Pierce”—or even trope based—”Sunshine/Grumpy romance set in a world of danger and magic.” There are a ton of options, but the main point is to position your story in the market and make it easy to pick up quickly. 
  • Logline: This serves a similar purpose as the comp titles do and is meant to sum up one cool part of your story. It doesn’t have to sum up the entire story. For example, Gideon the Ninth sounds wild if you try to summarize the plot, but I’ve been able to convince all my friends to read it by saying simply, “it’s about lesbian necromancers in space.” That’s all you need! In casual conversation, this is often called your “elevator pitch.” Imagine you’re at a convention and you get into the elevator with your dream agent, and you have only the length of the elevator ride to sell them your novel. What do you say? That’s your logline.

***Both comp titles and logline are technically optional, and you don’t need both of them. It’s better to write something unique than to waste the space putting something in just because you think you need it. 

2. The Biography

This usually goes at the end of the query. Don’t overthink it. If you have any credentials, put those in; relevant credentials can include past publications, editing jobs, or a creative writing degree. Then write one to two sentences that make you sound interesting. For example, I say that I like long walks in the fog (because I write moody fantasy) and have a history degree (because it inspires my fantasy world building). 

3. The Body

I left this until the last because it’s the hardest and most important part. A killer summary will make up for dull metadata and a lackluster bio. But if the body of your query letter is weak, no MFA in the world will save you. This section should be 300 words maximum.  

Your simplest formula for including what needs to be in this paragraph is four sentences: LEAD, OBJECTIVE, CONFLICT, TWIST. It’s simpler than you think to write the first draft. I promise. Let it be terrible, get it down, then edit it to a fine shine (much like you’ve already done with that novel!). 

  • Lead: This is your main character. Name them and describe them by including their profession, skills, or other plot-relevant details. 
  • Objective: What does your main character want? Try to make this as specific as possible. “Longs for  acceptance” is vague and generic. “Wants to be accepted into the Book Guild” is specific and gives a reader clues about their personality and the setting. You can put in some information about motivation here too. Maybe her father was also a bookbinder and she needs to redeem the family name. 
  • Conflict: Now we’re getting to the meat of it! Why can’t your main character get what they want? Again, try to be specific and don’t leave it to platitudes. If the bookbinders just don’t like her, that’s generic. If they don’t like her because they think she’s as corrupt as her father was and will bring ruin to them, that’s something a reader can really dig into. We have themes implied now! We understand this is a story about family ties, redemption, and preconceived notions, and you didn’t even need to spell that out. 
  • Twist: This is the most nebulous part of the query. The twist can be a real plot twist, like her discovering that the bookbinding guild also sells occult books. It can be a cool thing about the setting, like the bookstore being on an airship. It can be the romantic subplot, if she falls in love with her rival apprentice. It can be the historical inspiration, if the book is set in a fantasy world reminiscent of Renaissance Italy. In short, what makes your book special? What’s going to prompt people to shove it in their friend’s faces? It’s similar to the logline in that way. 

You can also put the twist at the beginning of the body paragraph, if it’s really cool. You can weave it throughout. You can put it at the end in a mic drop moment. Just make your book sound cool. That’s literally all this is! 

And those three sections…are basically it! Doesn’t sound so scary now, right? Oh wait, it still does? Okay, then, here’s some more tips to help you!

  • Write down everything you need in a query in whatever order works for you. I do it like a sad, clunky mad libs just so it’s all on the page. It’s a lot of pressure to include all this important information AND make it pretty in one go. 
  • Ask your beta readers to help! It’s hard to summarize your own stories when you’ve been living inside them for months. I’ve helped so many friends with their queries because they wrote something perfectly serviceable and technically correct that somehow still made their story sound frightfully boring. (This is not a condemnation of their skill as writers. The skills needed to write queries are completely different.) 
  • Don’t use rhetorical questions. This is mostly personal taste, but I think they’re a waste of space. “Will she follow her heart?” is sort of useless when 99% of stories are about people following their heart. “She must choose between her ambition and the chance at true love” is so much more clear and includes more conflict. 
  • The body of your query letter actually only needs to include the first 30-50% of the story in most cases—enough to leave the reader/agent/editor eager to know what happens next, and no more. This isn’t true if the twist is necessary to understanding why the story is exciting. Can you imagine trying to sell Gone Girl without including the twist that it was all a set up? That twist took the story from generic true crime to something truly original. So to some extent, you’ll need to use your judgment, but there’s rarely any need to try to fit the whole plot into that 300-word paragraph.
  • Above all, be specific. 
  • Do not shy away from giving spoilers (again: BE SPECIFIC). “She finds information that may change everything,” are seven words that tell you nothing. If you say what the information is (“she finds a note from her father that makes it clear he was framed”), you’ll leave the reader desperate to know what the outcome will be, begging for the rest of the story. 
  • Get the query competent and coherent, and then leave it for at least a week. This is good editing advice for any story, but it’s absolutely vital for a query. Because they’re so short and so much rides on them, every single word you write in the query has to be useful, and every sentence has to be clear, concise, and intriguing. Don’t rush this; it’s better to go slow and get it right then hurry along and face a pile of rejections. 
  • Have a query beta reader who hasn’t read your story. Make sure it makes sense with no context. Revise it again. Leave it for another week. (I’m sorry. But I’m not really.)

I know this sounds like a lot. Query letters are hard, and the pressure makes it harder. Writing culture loves to hate on them, for good reason. But you learned to write a novel, something that takes years to master! You can learn to write a query letter too. I won’t pretend it’s easy, but it is a skill you can learn, and it’s worth it! With a single page, you can convince people to buy your book, and that’s magical! 


You can learn more about Alec here; you can learn more about To Drive the Hundred Miles here, and read a teaser here. And, you can check out Alec’s two already-published erotica works Heart’s Scaffolding and Study Hall.

Who we are: Duck Prints Press LLC is an independent publisher based in New York State. Our founding vision is to help fanfiction authors navigate the complex process of bringing their original works from first draft to print, culminating in publishing their work under our imprint. We are particularly dedicated to working with queer authors and publishing stories featuring characters from across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.

Love what we do? Sign up for our monthly newsletter and get previews, behind-the-scenes information, coupons, and more!

Want to support the Press and get lots of our stories? Consider backing our Patreon or ko-fi monthly at a level that includes free stories, and read your fill!

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“To Drive the Hundred Miles” About the Author: Get to Know Alec J. Marsh

Alec J. Marsh has been working with us at Duck Prints Press for over year, and recently joined our staff as an editor and advisor.

Alec lives in the Pacific Northwest, where they write romantic adult fantasy and self-indulgent fanfiction. They make candles inspired by their favorite characters.

Links: Etsy | Instagram | Twitter

To Drive the Hundred Miles is Alec J. Marsh’s fourth release with Duck Prints Press. They’ve written two erotica short stories, Heart’s Scaffold and Study Hall, and they’re a contributor to our anthology She Wears the Midnight Crown, which successfully crowdfunded last summer and will be coming to the Duck Prints Press webstore this winter! In addition to contributing to the anthology as a writer, Alec also made one of our merchandise backer rewards – lovely custom candles that smell as good as they look. We’re delighted to have them on board with us, and we can’t wait to bring you To Drive the Hundred Miles and other titles by them in the future.

Who we are: Duck Prints Press LLC is an independent publisher based in New York State. Our founding vision is to help fanfiction authors navigate the complex process of bringing their original works from first draft to print, culminating in publishing their work under our imprint. We are particularly dedicated to working with queer authors and publishing stories featuring characters from across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.

Love what we do? Sign up for our monthly newsletter and get previews, behind-the-scenes information, coupons, and more!

Want to support the Press and get lots of our stories? Consider backing our Patreon or ko-fi monthly at a level that includes free stories, and read your fill!

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Coming Soon: “To Drive the Hundred Miles” by Alec J. Marsh

We’re thrilled to announce that that Alec J. Marsh’s novella To Drive the Hundred Miles will be coming to Duck Prints Press as an e-book release on December 21st, 2022!

Snow falls softly as dark descends early, and Will returns home to Serendipity, Washington, for the holidays. What awaits him at home?

Some conflict.

Some opportunities.

Some magic.

Some coffee.

And a lot of possibilities for his future…

Follow Duck Prints Press on any of our social media platforms for a week of teasers, sneak peeks, and previews of this lovely holiday tale!

Want all the deets and the ability to claim free novellas? Back us on Patreon or ko-fi – $10/month and $25/month can get this and other titles from our catalog for free!