Jermaine Martin & The Underdog Press

Jermaine Martin & The Underdog Press 

By Angelique Fawns

Who doesn’t love and root for an underdog? This aptly named press says, “our goal is to take novels and stories that are a hard sale and don’t currently have a home and become that place where they can shine.

I recently sold them a story about a galactic gambler with a ship full of vices to The Underdogs Rise Vol. 2 and thought it might be nice to learn more about the folks championing  the underserviced. 

Check out the book here! The Underdogs Rise Volume 2

AF: Tell us more about the inspiration and creation of The Underdog Press?

JM: Thanks for asking. I was inspired to create it after I’d received the tenth rejection letter saying the same thing, the novel is well written, but they wouldn’t know how to market it. Was it science fiction or fantasy? How can you know which shelf to put it on. That made me realize no matter how good or well written a story is, if it doesn’t fit into a neat box you won’t be able to sell your story. That day I decided to not only publish my work but find authors in a similar boat and see about publishing their work as well.

AF: How do you find your ideas for your anthologies and chose your genres?

JM: When I came up with my company’s name, I decided that it would be great to have an annual anthology about underdogs. Stories about characters who really have the chips stacked against them and maybe have been dealt a bad hand but find a way to overcome those challenges and achieve greatness despite the odds. For Way of Worlds, I wanted stories that didn’t involve Earth, or were so far away from Earth you could focus on building a whole new sci-fi world your way. I want to see what people can come up with when you are liberated from the story telling confines of the Sol system.


AF: How was the reception to The Underdogs Rise Vol. 1? How is Vol. 2 different?

JM: The reception was great. I especially love going to conventions and talking to people about the collection. I hear that it’s a breath of fresh air and that the stories are unique. But, as a new publisher, there weren’t many people who answered the call for submissions. I kept the same theme this time around because I love a good underdog story, but the response from writers was huge. There were so many stories that I was able to read and enjoy and really find those unique stories that fit the theme, were well written, and would define the idea of the Underdogs Rise going forward. Take your story, without giving away any spoilers, I love that the character isn’t trying to save a dying planet or stop an intergalactic war. She’s doing something that is close to home, personal, and relatable that you don’t see in stories too often anymore.  


AF: What do you look for in a story that you buy? What advice do you have for authors?

JM: What I look for is a little different honestly, because I am always trying to find the story that everyone else would call a tough sell. I want witches in space shuttles and coming of age stories set in distant galaxies. Tell me a story that I’ve never seen or haven’t seen in a while. I want great stories, not written to be commercial, but written to explore complex ideas in fun and mixed-up ways. If you can easily find comp titles for your work, it’s probably not something I would want to buy. If you’re writing a novel or short story, I want to see your imagination run wild on the pages. Those are the worlds I want to explore.

AF: How many submissions do you typically receive for your anthologies? What is the process for selection/publication?

JM: For my first anthology I received a few dozen stories. For the latest I received hundreds. I was shocked because I just knew it was going to be a little slow. I’m so glad I was wrong. My process is to go through and find all the well written stories first. The ones with solid bones to start with. From there we find the well written stories that easily remind us of stuff we know. We put those to the side and then we look at what’s left. That’s how we find the stories that are the hard sells. We have to be conscientious about finding those because we see a lot of good stories, but we want to differentiate ourselves and create as much of a unique selling proposition as possible.


AF: What do you for a living when you aren’t exploring the world of hard sell stories?

JM: I actually work in IT. I’ve worked in infrastructure and software development for years. Technology is fun, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve remembered that my first love was always writing. Finding these stories and writing my own is the most relaxing thing I can do after a hard day in the office.

AF: What kind of writing do you do yourself? 

JM: I write in all genres, from literary fiction to fantasy. I love mixing genres as well. My first novel is a steampunk fantasy called The Engineer’s Apprentice. It’s out now and I have a Kickstarter in its pre-launch phase to get an audio book made. I’ve had a lot of people at conventions ask for that. I’m currently working on the sequel so keep an eye out for that. It’s called The Engineer’s Dilemma. If I had more time there are a few other stories I’d be working on. I have two other series in mind that are in the planning stage. I still write short stories because I find them fun and a great exercise. Honestly, I’ve had quite a few short stories that are going to be reference material for novels that I plan on writing in the future. I also want to write some literary fiction as well. I have a few story ideas that I think will do well. 

AF: What is in the future for The Underdog Press?
JM: That’s a great question. I’ll keep on writing no matter what happens, that’s for sure. I mentioned the Kickstarter which goes live on July 1st. The next big thing is finding another novelist. We’re not actively looking, but if the write pitch comes into our email or if it shows up on #pitchunderdog on Twitter(X) or Instagram and it catches our interest we’ll reach out. I hop onto those platforms periodically and check to see if anyone has left a pitch. Nothing yet, but we’ll keep checking. We’ll keep heading out to conventions. The next one we’re looking at is Fae Ball in Austin, Texas. It looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. I understand that this is a slow process, but that’s okay, I’ve counted the cost and I’m in it for the long haul. I believe with enough time and genuine passion, anything is possible. You can stay up to date on what’s going on with us on I can’t wait to show you what’s next.


You may also like...