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This is the seventh of a series of blog posts that I wrote last year in order to show how I create the anthologies for Zombies Need Brains, the small press that I founded in order to produce anthologies. It's basically a behind-the-scenes look at the process, which will be covered in multiple parts. Obviously, this is only how I produce an anthology and there may be other roads to follow in order to produce one. Keep that in mind.

Here are the previous parts of the series:

Part 6: Table of Contents:
Part 5: Editing:
Part 4: Slush Pile:
Part 3: Funding:
Part 2: Authors:
Part 1: Concept:

At this point, the authors have revised their stories and sent them all back in on time! Ha, ha! But seriously, let’s say you have all of the revised stories back from the authors and you’ve got the Table of Contents all figured out. It’s now time to put all of the stories into one giant file, including front matter (things like the “Also by” page, the copyright page, the title page, the dedication, the acknowledgments, the ToC, the signature page, etc). If you’ve got an “About the Authors” section or an “About the Editors” section, add that at the end, after the stories. If you’ve got a thank you page to Kickstarters or something like that, add that in there as well. Basically, you need to create the file that will represent the book when it goes to the ebook designer and/or print designer. It should have everything in it. BUT, before you send it out to be designed, there’s one more crucial phase: the copy edit.

The best thing you can do to produce a professional anthology is to hire a copy editor to go through the entire book and look for any and all typos, grammar errors, inconsistencies, basically anything that could be wrong with the book. A professional copy editor costs some money, but it’s strongly suggested and hopefully you’ve factored the cost into your funding. No one wants to read a book that has a typo every couple of paragraphs. No one wants to read a book that has some serious formatting issue that make it difficult to read. No one likes it when there are inconsistencies from page 1 to page 200. All of these are reasons that readers will put a book down and potentially give it a bad review. They certainly aren’t likely to recommend it to a friend. A copy editor can save you from all of this.

At Zombies Need Brains, I also have the editors go through the stories and find as many errors as they can and make corrections and such using track changes. All of these changes are then sent to the authors for approval. The author can either accept the suggested changes (and once again, like the revision letters, they are only suggestions), or they can propose alternative changes that fix the problems. Once the author has signed off on all of the copy edits—from the copy editor and the editors—then the book’s file is ready to be sent to the print and ebook designers.

There are some publishers where the copy edits aren’t seen by the authors and are simply implemented automatically without their approval. This is fairly common, but ZNB would rather the author be as much a part of the process as possible, and wants the authors to have the final say on anything related to their stories. So I always try to run anything being altered in a story by the author.

The anthology is off to the print and ebook designers, which may take some time depending on the complexity of the book, how many graphics it contains, etc. Again, the editor doesn’t get this time to relax. They’ve now got to start considering the cover—both the art and the back cover copy. That’s addressed in the next part of this series.

And now a word from our sponsor:


Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter ( to fund THREE new SF&F anthologies and we need your help! We can't produce anthologies unless we can get the funding to pay the authors, the cover artists, the print and ebook designers, and the printers. That's where the Kickstarter comes in, and you, THE FANS! We've got a ton of stunning anchor authors on board, including NY Times bestselling authors and award winners. And we've got a ton of great reward levels, such as tuckerizations, signed copies of books by your favorite authors, and more! Our themes for this current Kickstarter are:

PORTALS: In the blink of an eye, the familiar disappears as you step into the unknown. What new creatures will you meet? What strange planets will you explore? Will you find happiness, or doom? Open the pages of PORTALS, the newest anthology from the small press Zombies Need Brains, and you just might find out. From wardrobes to monoliths, wormholes to fairy rings, there is a rich tradition of stories in both science fiction and fantasy that explore what happens when--by accident or design--characters are transported from one world to another. Join fourteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors as they offer fresh takes on this classic theme. Whether a routine trip or unexpected journey, each tale will explore new worlds of adventure, mystery, humor, and horror, with stories for every taste and fancy. Edited by S.C. Butler and Patricia Bray, PORTALS will contain approximately fourteen stories with an average length of up to 6,000 words each. It will include short stories by: Jacey Bedford, F. Brett Cox, James Enge, Esther Friesner, Nancy Holzner, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, Jaime Lee Moyer, and Ian Tregillis.

TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED: In our spam boxes today, we both received notices that our bank accounts required resolution, and the content of the spam contained the following sentence: "We have noticed that you need to resolve important security issues on your account to prevent temporal deactivation." Of course, our immediate thought was of a new anthology called TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED! For this follow-up to 2015’s TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER, we are looking for stories that take a person, object, event, or phenomenon and somehow, during the course of the plot, “temporally deactivate” it, whatever that may mean in the context of the story. “Temporal deactivation” should refer to something more than a simple death, malfunction, or termination, and instead should touch in some way on issues of time — its flow, distortion, dislocation, etc. Edited by David B. Coe & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: C.S. Friedman, Faith Hunter, D.B. Jackson, Gini Koch, Stephen Leigh, Misty Massey, Jenna Rhodes, and Edmund R. Schubert.

ALTERNATE PEACE: All too often, alternate histories are based on a battle or assassination. We’re looking for stories where change grew out of more peaceful activities…science, business, and culture. Imagine a world in which the branch point from our own was caused by scientific endeavor, social change, natural forces, or other points of divergence which don’t rely on military activity or violence. Edited by Steven H Silver & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: D.B. Jackson, Stephen Leigh, Ian R. MacLeod, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kari Sperring, Harry Turtledove, Rick Wilber.

If you'd like to help fund these anthologies, swing on by the Kickstarter at! And share the Kickstarter with your friends, family, and total strangers! We need more SF&F anthologies!

"Portals" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios


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Joshua Palmatier

March 2019

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