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!
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 asorority 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!
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.
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.
Here are some of the things we would LOVE to see in your YA fantasy manuscript:
Enemies to lovers
Non-Western inspired fantasy worlds – please please please!
‘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
School settings (teach them magic, or war, or how to be an assassin)
Relationships that straddle the friends/enemies axis
Deals with the devil
College age (18+)
Epistolary/different format books
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.
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
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
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Sailormoon (especially the Seiya/Usagi arc)
The Company of Wolves
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.
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.
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!
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.
Our August theme is: IDENTITY CRISIS! Our book this month is a science fiction debut set in a world where the secret of travelling to parallel universes has been discovered, but you can only travel to worlds where you’re already dead, and about a girl who is dead in all but eight of them. There’s multiverses to traverse, and doppelgangers to avenge. We were totally gripped by the author’s voice from the very first chapter!
Our edition has an exclusive cover, exclusive sprayed edges and is signed by the author! Both the full box & book only subscriptions will come with a matching pin designed by Fable & Black!
Our featured fandoms for August are The Illuminae Files, We Hunt the Flame, Mistborn, The Lunar Chronicles, and Percy Jackson! We revealed when we launched our August preorder that the Percy Jackson item is one of our book tins, and the design by @chattynora is stunninnggggggg! We love this set of items & can’t wait to bring you some more reveals!
If you receive an item that is damaged, we will try our best to replace it for you. Please fill out our Customer Support formwithin 14 days of receipt of the item and we can have a replacement sent out to you. Be ready to provide photos of the damaged item/s and the box, showing the shipping label.
As a general rule, we are unable to replace a product if only the packaging is damaged. We are also unable to provide packaging of an individual product if yours was missing.
Book damage guidelines:
Does qualify as damaged
Does not qualify as damaged
A tear/rip/cut or visible scratch on the front of the dust jacket or spine larger than 1cm
Light scratches on the back of the dust jacket
Residue or marks on the cover that cannot be removed
Scratches or unevenly sprayed edges
A book that should have been signed but isn’t
Small white spots or scratches on sprayed edges, or bleeding onto pages
Dents or crushed edges bigger than 1cm
Minimal creasing on top or bottom of the book spine, dust jacket, or corners
This is rebel leader, calling all rebel forces. Please ensure you are in a secure location before opening this briefing.
We’ve had word that Illumicrate have released their July theme: WE ARE THE RESISTANCE. Our intel reveals that the book is a space opera following a group of rebels fighting to free the galaxy from a tyrannical empire. Sound familiar? Illumicrate loved the twisty plot and multiple POV perspective! The book has an exclusive cover, exclusive sprayed edges and will come with signed bookplates. There will also be an enamel pin inspired by the book, designed by Fable & Black, included in both the full box and book only options.
The box will also contain items inspired by The Bone Season, An Ember in the Ashes, Star Wars, the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning, and more. Our intel suggests that the items are beautiful and useful as usual, and there will be some official reveals to come.
Our source also managed to glean some information about the books for August – October, but it is encrypted. Resistance cells, get your best codebreakers to work on these and get the info out stat!
Come, join us IN THE SHADOWS as we tell you all about our June theme…
Our featured book for June is set in an alternative Paris where the dark underworld is divided into criminal guilds and one girl fights to keep her sister from their clutches. We totally fell in love with the captivating writing and incredible world-building, and we know you will too!
Our edition features an exclusive cover AND an exclusive hidden cover under the dust jacket. There’s also exclusive sprayed edges and endpapers. This is truly one of the most stunning books we’ve ever included and we are so in love with it! We’re also incredibly excited to announce that from June onwards we’ll be including a collectible pin inspired by our book choice each month! These will all be created by our friend and collaborator @fableandblack and will be included in both the box and book only subscriptions.
The items in this box are inspired by Nevernight, the Villains series by V.E Schwab (Vicious and Vengeful), Game of Thrones, Crescent City and more! We’re excited to announce that the next in our @rosiethorns88 mug series will be in this box.