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April 2021: Dearly Departed

Our April theme is Dearly Departed! This month is dedicated to those with an affinity for death be that a necromancer, assassin, zombie hunter or vampire.

Our featured book this month is a YA standalone fantasy. A blood mage, who has stayed hidden from the royal family that binds her kind to spirit guardians, accidentally reveals her powers and is thrust into the life she had managed to avoid. Desperate to escape, but not knowing who to trust and with danger lurking round every corner, she forms a reluctant alliance with her spirit guardian to save them both from an unwanted fate. We loved the spirit of the main character, and her chemistry with her love interests (that’s right, there’s 2!). Our Illumicrate edition features exclusive stencilled edges and character art endpapers designed by @lilith_saur and will come with a signed bookplate & author letter. It’s a truly stunning edition! Both our full box and book only options come with the matching pin designed by @stacey.mcevoy.caunt

Items this month are inspired by Gideon the Ninth, Nevernight, The Beautiful, Dread Nation and more! This is one of our favourite boxes this year, and we can’t wait for you to see it!

The book at a glance:

📚 YA standalone fantasy
💡Stencilled edges and character art endpapers by @lilith_saur
💫 Pansexual MC, M/F/F polyamorous relationship, F/F relationships, non-binary & asexual side character

Content warnings (Taken from the author’s Goodreads review):

  • Death (lots, major and minor characters)
  • Death of queer characters, but most main characters are queer
  • Parent death, on page and off
  • Violence
  • Blood
  • Gore
  • Mild body horror
  • Mild substance addiction (alcohol)
  • Enforced gender roles
  • Forced marriage and pregnancy (including rape, but the latter is off page, in the past, and not involving main characters)
  • Threat of rape/abuse of the main character
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March 2021: Fighting Spirit

Our March theme is FIGHTING SPIRIT! 

Our chosen book this month follows a soldier and a princess both with divided loyalties. Should the soldier be loyal to the homeland she barely remembers, or the nation she was conscripted to fight for? Will the princess choose her desire to claim her rightful throne, or the opportunity to aid a colonised land? There are many battles to fight and with their budding feelings for each other complicating matters, which path will they both take?

If you like yearning, scheming and #WomenWithWeapons then this North African-inspired debut is absolutely the book for you. Our Illumicrate Edition comes with exclusive sprayed edges, an exclusive hidden cover and is signed by the author! Both the book only & full box option also come with a matching pin designed by Stacey McEvoy-Caunt!

Our featured fandoms for March are The Court of Miracles, Kingdom of the Wicked, Winternight, The Bone Witch and an officially licensed The Dark Artifices item! This is also a @rosiethorns88 mug month! Our items this month are all beautiful and useable, we can’t wait to bring you some reveals.

Thanks to Chatty Nora for this graphic!

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February 2021: The City is Ours

Our February theme is THE CITY IS OURS! This month we’re inspired by stories that take place in cities we love or dream to visit, either real or imaginary!

Our featured book is a YA urban fantasy debut with an ensemble cast of teenagers from a magical underworld working together to stop a killer. For every murder that takes place in the human world, the fae realm is at greater risk of being discovered. Can they figure out the truth in time? This book absolutely perfect for you if you’re a fan of The Cruel Prince & Shadowhunters! We love this cast of characters, the interesting world & mythology the author created and of course, the snarky banter! Our Illumicrate edition comes with exclusive sprayed edges and is signed by the author! Plus, both our full box and book only options come with a matching pin designed by Stacey McEvoy-Caunt!

Our chosen fandoms this month are Crescent City, The Falconer, Cemetery Boys, The City We Became and Gilded Wolves! We love this mix of items: some that are perfect for when you’re out and about, and some that are gorgeous & useable! We can’t wait to bring you some reveals!

 

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Jobs at Illumicrate

We are looking for people to join the Illumicrate and Cureadosity teams!

Please read this full post carefully before applying:

  • We are looking for THREE (3) new team members, each with a different role as described below.
  • Send a separate application for each role you are interested in.
  • You must be 18+ to apply.
  • We can only accept applications sent to the email address with the relevant subject line as below. Applications sent via any other medium will be discounted.
  • All roles currently available are part-time.
  • Applications close on Sunday, 17 January 2021.
  • Due to the high volume of applications, we will not be able to respond to all candidates.

About Illumicrate and Cureadosity

Illumicrate is the original UK book box subscription. Founded in 2015 as a quarterly subscription, today, Illumicrate has a monthly book box subscription, a monthly book only subscription, and offers special edition boxes, exclusive editions of books, and more, in our shop. We don’t limit ourselves to YA and feature all genres.

The books we feature and sell are unique to us. We work closely with publishers on creating exclusive editions specifically for our monthly boxes. We are also the pioneers of aligning special edition boxes with highly anticipated releases, with The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo being the first of these in 2017.

Cureadosity is the uncomplicated picture book subscription box for 2-6 year olds. We aim to bring your little ones a diverse range of stories and make reading time a fun and enjoyable experience for all. Customers can choose from monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly boxes to suit your family’s needs.

We were born of the need for picture book recommendations, but it was tough to find any outside the big-name authors and popular book series. It was then we realised we wanted to create Cureadosity – a no fuss way for parents and carers to receive books to enjoy with their kids!

As a whole business and team, our core values are quality and inclusivity. Our book choices reflect the world we live in and our customer base; we support marginalised authors (LGBTQ+ and BAME) where possible, and strive to feature UK-based authors as much as possible. We know our customers appreciate our diverse choices.

We are interested in hiring someone who has a genuine passion for books and who aligns with our brand, values and book choices.

 

Job: Bookkeeper

This job is for the role of a bookkeeper, initially for 5-10 hours a week at an hourly rate based on experience (minimum relevant living wage for the area the candidate resides). The role will work on both Illumicrate and Cureadosity. We’re very open to someone coming in with fresh ideas about how we manage our processes. As well as the roles and responsibilities outlined below, you can be as involved with our book selections and project planning as you wish. This role is open to UK residents or those with the right to work in the UK only.

Roles and responsibilities

  • Managing the accounts payable and receivable
  • Handling supplier invoices.  Ensuring all invoices are received and coded to the appropriate project
  • Setting up payments on the bank to be approved by CEO
  • Reconciling bank transactions on a weekly basis
  • Maintaining company ledgers on a regular basis
  • Preparing purchase orders in accordance with requests for goods, and maintaining a tracking schedule
  • Preparing information for VAT returns
  • Providing administrative and clerical support as needed
  • Any other additional bookkeeping duties

Skills and qualifications

  • Experience as a bookkeeper or similar role
  • Knowledge of accounting principles
  • Ability to work with accounting software (Currently using QuickBooks, but may change in future)
  • Strong organisational skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to manage time around other commitments and meet deadlines
  • Interest in the book community

To apply, send us an email cover letter and attached your CV to [email protected]. Use the subject: BOOKKEEPER APPLICATION. Make sure you include:

  • Your full name, location, and a confirmation that you are over 18
  • Your personal social media links (optional)
  • Details of previous bookkeeping experience
  • Your answer to the question: ‘what do you feel you can bring to this role?’

Job: Social Media

This job is for the role of a social media manager, initially for 5-10 hours a week at an hourly rate based on experience (minimum relevant living wage for the area the candidate resides). The role will work on both Illumicrate and Cureadosity. The position will start off small, but our hope is that as we grow, so does your role, and we’re very open to someone coming in with fresh ideas about how we should be engaging with our followers and customers. As well as the roles and responsibilities outlined below, you can be as involved with our book selections and project planning as you wish. This role is open to applications anywhere in the world.

Roles and responsibilities

  • Be responsible for the majority of the day to day posting and engagement on social media channels for Illumicrate and Cureadosity, outside of posting about new products/monthly themes and reveals
  • Oversee the running of Illumicrate monthly readalongs
  • Run, promote and select the winners for Illumicrate photo challenges
  • Create ‘mood board’ stories for each Illumicrate monthly theme and special edition box
  • Design stories for each Illumicrate monthly theme, special edition box, and exclusive book with information & including reveals
  • Create Instagram stories & reels outside of advertising products, with the aim of audience engagement
  • Explore other social media/community avenues & projects
  • Take and edit own photos, if required
  • Customer support, if required
  • Any other additional social media related work, as required

Skills and qualifications

  • Not necessarily looking for people with degrees or professional experience
  • Someone who manages their own social media well and feels confident translating that to our brand
  • Experience building an online community and engagement
  • Ability to manage time around other commitments
  • Member of the book community
  • Experience in Facebook and Instagram marketing beneficial, but not required

To apply, send us an email cover letter and attached your CV to [email protected]. Use the subject: SOCIAL MEDIA APPLICATION. Make sure you include:

  • Your full name, location, and a confirmation that you are over 18
  • Your personal social media links or social media links of other accounts you manage
  • Your answer to the question: ‘what do you feel you can bring to this role?’
  • An example social media post for Illumicrate (Instagram, Facebook Twitter thread)

Job: Customer Support

This job is for the role of customer support, initially for 5-10 hours a week at an hourly rate based on experience (minimum relevant living wage for the area the candidate resides). The role will work on both Illumicrate and Cureadosity. We’re looking for someone who feels confident handling complex customer support issues. As well as the roles and responsibilities outlined below, you can be as involved with our book selections and project planning as you wish. This role is open to UK residents or those with the right to work in the UK only.

Roles and responsibilities

  • Leading on customer service emails
  • Provide customers information on our products and services
  • Resolve any issues accurately and effectively
  • Manage customer support team schedules and coverage
  • Liaising with our shipping and fulfillment providers when necessary

Skills and qualifications

  • Background and experience in customer services, specifically online/remote customer service
  • Ability to manage a small team
  • Ability to manage time around other commitments
  • Patience, empathy and good problem solving
  • Willing to show initiative and have good instincts, because you won’t always know the answer
  • Great interpersonal skills
  • Ability to apply what you know to different scenarios would be very helpful
  • Interest in the book community

To apply, send us an email cover letter and attached your CV to [email protected]. Use the subject: CUSTOMER SERVICE APPLICATION. Make sure you include:

  • Your full name, location, and a confirmation that you are over 18
  • Your personal social media links (optional)
  • Details of previous customer service experience
  • Your answer to the question: ‘what do you feel you can bring to this role?’
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January 2021: Rebellious Royals

Who’s ready for our first theme of 2021?! It is: REBELLIOUS ROYALS! Our January theme is dedicated to those royals who don’t like to follow established conventions or play by the rules.

Our chosen book for January is a debut space opera. With an intergalactic treaty at risk following the death of an imperial prince, his widower is rushed into an arranged marriage with a disreputable prince to try and save negotiations. But was the prince’s death truly an accident? And are the new couple now developing feelings for each other? Part murder mystery, part political intrigue, our favourite element of this novel was the swoon-worthy central romance that is one of the sweetest we have ever read! Our edition comes with exclusive sprayed edges, is signed by the author, and both our full box and book only options come with a matching pin designed by Stacey McEvoy-Caunt!

Our featured fandoms this month are ACOTAR, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, You Should See Me in a Crown, Mirage, AND we’ll be including an officially licensed Cruel Prince item! We adore this mix of items, they have a distinct cosy winter vibe and are all perfect for dark evenings spent snuggled up at home. Reveals to come!

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December 2020: A Legacy to Protect

Our December theme is A LEGACY TO PROTECT! It’s the end of the year, and it’s been a rough one, so we thought we’d give you all a little treat and bring you a TWO BOOK MONTH!

That’s right, both box and book only subscribers will be getting two books this month. You deserve it. 

Our main book is a YA hardback about a  sorority house of witches, the girls who are members, and the secrets they hold and discover. Our Illumicrate edition comes with exclusive sprayed edges and signed bookplates, plus a pin inspired by the book and designed by Stacey McEvoy Caunt!

Our second book is a YA paperback mystery about a group of heirs summoned to the mysterious island home of the grandmother they’ve never met. She disinherited their parents but is she ready to make amends, or is something more sinister going on? Our edition comes with sprayed edges and a signed bookplate!

There’s mysteries to unlock in both our chosen books this month and we were absolutely gripped! The whole Illumicrew raced through these selections.

Our featured fandoms are City of Brass, Red White and Royal Blue, Jade City, The Poppy War and Avatar: The Last Airbender! And it’s December which means it’s a @rosiethorns88 mug month!

We’ve brought you a totally kickass box to end the year on and we hope you’re as excited about it as we are! We are aiming to get these boxes out earlier than usual so they’ll hopefully reach as many of you as possible pre-Christmas, but please be aware we cannot guarantee this.

We’re also giving you a little sneak peek at our 2021 book choices through our favourite medium: EMOJI HINTS!

January: ❄️🪐
February: ⚫🕳⭐
March: ⚔️💂🏾👸🏼

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November 2020: Spellbinding Stories

Our theme for November is SPELLBINDING STORIES! These are books whose lyrical prose or enchanting plots have truly bewitched us. We’ll be including an officially licensed Strange the Dreamer item and items inspired by Circe, This Is How You Lose the Time War, The Starless Sea and more! This is our 5 year anniversary box and we are so proud of it. We have some exciting reveals to bring you, but we’ll start with announcing our next Pauhami book sleeve is in this box! Our series with Pauhami will now be inspired by our favourite magical places, and we’ve certainly started this series off with a bang!

Our featured book this month is about three sisters who get involved with the suffragist movement and also begin discovering the lost ways of witchcraft. It’s a truly magical read and we’re so excited to be bringing you an Illumicrate edition with exclusive sprayed edges and signed by the author! Both our full box and book only options will come with an enamel pin inspired by our chosen book and designed by Stacey McEvoy-Caunt.

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PitchWars Wishlist

PITCHWARS WISHLIST

Welcome, welcome to Kat and Daphne’s wishlist, a.k.a. #TeamVillian’s wishlist! We are looking for YA fantasy manuscripts for PitchWars 2020, so if that’s what you’ve got, keep reading!

If you have any questions, the fastest way to reach us is on Twitter – @KatAliceDunn and @daphlt

Can’t wait to see all your brilliant submissions!

WHAT IS PITCHWARS?

Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to spend three months revising their manuscript. It ends in February with an Agent Showcase, where agents can read a pitch/first page and can request to read more.

Who We Are

Kat is a fantasy author, whose YA debut DANGEROUS REMEDY came out in 2020. She was a PitchWars YA mentor in 2019.

After two degrees and jobs as a bookseller, nursing assistant and translator for NHK, she settled down to a career as a writer and editor, working in YA and children’s publishing, mental health and government web content.

She’s been editing day in day out for the last 8 years at work, in her master’s programme and working on her own manuscripts with her agent and editor. She wants to share with a mentee everything she’s learnt to make your manuscript shine, and navigate the highs and lows of publishing.

She grew up in London, and has lived in France, Japan and Australia. Back in London now, she lives with too many house plants and a mission to write as many sapphic books as she can fit into her life. Find her on twitter and instagram @KatAliceDunn.

Daphne is the founder and owner of Illumicrate, the UK’s first YA and crossover book subscription box. She’s also Marketing Director for inclusive children’s publisher Knights Of, an event chair, and a 2020 Kitchies judge. Previously, she was an award-winning book blogger from 2011-2018 and a judge for the YA Book Prize and The Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME award. 

While she’s not an author, she’s had plenty of first and second-hand experience in all aspects of publishing. Her day to day job of reading manuscripts for Illumicrate and sitting on judging panels has given her great insight into what makes a story work. She’s looking forward to working with a mentee to pass on everything she knows and shedding some light into the publishing process.

She’s a Chinese-Filipino born and raised in Manila and currently living in London. She can usually be found fangirling over first editions & fictional princes, and recommending books on social media @daphlt @illumicrate.

Our Wishlist

Here are some of the things we would LOVE to see in your YA fantasy manuscript:

  • Enemies to lovers
  • Myth retellings
  • Non-Western inspired fantasy worlds – please please please!
  • Bi love triangles
  • Unlikable/villainous/morally grey female characters
  • Gothic vibes
  • Villain redemption arcs
  • Romance with ANGST
  • Dark academia
  • Anti-villains
  • ‘oh crap we have to get married for plot reasons but we HATE each other’
  • Where the setting is part of the plot/reveal
  • Necromancy and flirting with the dead/undead boundaries
  • Found families
  • School settings (teach them magic, or war, or how to be an assassin)
  • Relationships that straddle the friends/enemies axis
  • Himbos
  • Deals with the devil
  • College age (18+)
  • Epistolary/different format books
  • Mistaken/hidden identity

Things we aren’t the right mentor team for

  • Contemporary or pure sci-fi or historical. We are only looking for fantasy this year, although if you have a fantasy with some sci-fi elements that’s ok
  • Pure romance plots. We love a good OTP or romantic subplot in SFF, but if you’re interested in romance specifically as a genre, we’re not experienced enough in that sort of story telling to help.
  • Circuses.
  • Paranormal
  • Dystopia
  • Magical realism
  • Pirates
  • Mermaids
  • Witches
  • Fae
  • Horror – gothic/creepy mood is fine, but not full on out of my skin scary horror please
  • Stories set predominantly in the woods/outdoors/nature settings
  • Fantasy quests – unless you are a marginalised writer who hasn’t had the opportunity to explore this trope

Favourite Books

  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
  • Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
  • The Poppy War by R.F Kuang
  • Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
  • Vicious & Vengeful by VE Schwab
  • Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
  • An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir 
  • The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  • A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
  • This Is How You Lose The Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
  • Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart
  • These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
  • Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
  • The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams
  • The Princess and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Favourite Media

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • The Untamed
  • Crimson Peak
  • Sailormoon (especially the Seiya/Usagi arc)
  • Fandom!Draco
  • Fushigi Yuugi
  • The Mummy
  • The Company of Wolves
  • Lore Olympus
  • The Princess Bride
  • Ten Things I Hate About You
  • Mulan (the original animated one)

 

Who We’re Looking For

Someone ready to work hard. We’re not trying to scare you, but doing heavy edits is extremely hard work!

Books are big, unwieldy beasts and doing ambitious work on them is not for the faint hearted – especially on a tight deadline. We’ll be here to offer heaps of support, both practical and emotional, but ultimately you’re going to be the one doing the work so please make sure you’re really ready to make a commitment. 

We’re particularly interested in working with writers from outside of North America (especially marginalised writers from the UK – we need to do something about that awful 1% statistic). But please don’t feel like you have to disclose anything you’re not comfortable talking about when submitting. Of course, we’re still definitely open to writers from North America as well.

Content Warnings

We’re happy to accept books with ‘dark’ or ‘heavy’ themes, but please put a content warning in your submission for sexual abuse, assault or rape. 

How we work

We want to spend the majority of our time looking at big picture changes. This means really digging into your characters and plot and pulling them apart to understand how they all work together. Depending on what we agree together, this could involve a complete rewrite, or major structural changes if that’s what the book needs. 

We will send you a formal edit letter outlining what we think isn’t working, and probably with some suggestions for what you could do differently. We can then talk this through over Skype, email or DMs, whatever you prefer. Suggestions will only ever be that – suggestions. We may find it easier to explain what we think isn’t working by illustrating with an example of something that we think *could* work – that doesn’t mean we are right, or that that’s what you should do! We will only ever include things like that in the hope it might spark ideas for you. 

We might also mark up your manuscript if we notice anything in particular that’s confusing, or doesn’t work for us – but in general we won’t do a major line edit with you unless this is something you’re specifically concerned about.

You can see an example of Kat’s editorial comments on the Pitch Wars blog from 2019.

Thank you!

Thank you for reading through our wishlist. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment here, or you can reach us on twitter @KatAliceDunn and @daphlt.

You can view the same wishlist and leave a comment on Kat’s website as well.

Good luck!

 


 

Pitch Wars 2020 Young Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists

You can get back to the full list of mentors’ wish lists through the blog hop link, or you can use the list of links to other YA mentors’ wish lists below.

Pitch Wars 2020 Young Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists


    Click here to view all Pitch Wars 2020 Mentors’ Wish Lists

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    October 2020: Life & Death

    Our October theme is LIFE & DEATH! Our featured book this month is…well. We’ve hinted and we’ve teased, but we can now finally come out and say we’ve chosen THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE by V.E Schwab! This book is truly incredible and we’re so happy to be bringing you a gorgeous Illumicrate edition featuring all exclusive: cover, hidden cover, endpapers, and sprayed edges! It will also be signed by Victoria! Both the full box & book only options come with a gorgeous pin inspired by the book and designed by Stacey McEvoy-Caunt!

    We’ve decided to do something a little different this time and bring you a fandom neutral box! We will be including one item inspired by The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, but beyond that all our items are beautiful items not inspired by a particular fandom. We’ve loved putting this box together! It’s one of our most aesthetic boxes ever and it is super atmospheric and perfect for this time of year! We’ve got some exciting reveals to bring you.

    Existing subscribers, your spot is reserved for you as always! New spots for both box and book only will be available exclusively for our waitlist, however please be aware that we have limited spots available. Anyone not offered a spot for October will remain on our waitlist for November. 

    We’d also like to give you a little taster of the rest of our 2020 book choices, in our favoured form of emoji hints!

    November: ◀️▶️🕰 🧙🏻

    December: 🐦🔮👩🏻‍🎓👩🏾‍🎓

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    September 2020: Sinister Surroundings

    Our September 2020 theme is SINISTER SURROUNDINGS! This box is dedicated to stories with dangerous settings or situations, and crucially, have characters with the nous to get out of them (mostly) unscathed!

    Our featured book this month is…look we’re just gonna tell you, okay? It’s A DEADLY EDUCATION by Naomi Novik! We loved the deadly Scholomance, our reluctant protagonist El, and all her classmates so much! We’re thrilled to be bringing you a special edition of what is one of our favourite books of 2020. Our Illumicrate edition will have all exclusive: cover, hidden cover including a quote on the spine, sprayed edges, and a bound author letter with Naomi Novik’s signature (she has an injured hand and cannot hand-sign as a result). Both the full box and book only options will come with yet another incredible pin designed by the one and only Stacey McEvoy-Caunt!

    Our featured fandoms for September are Caraval, Uprooted, Red Rising, Kingdom of Souls, and an officially licensed Ninth House item! We’re also excited to announce our next @rosiethorns88 mug is in this box, and it is stunning.