jpskewedthrone: (Default)
This is the ninth of a series of blog posts that I intend to do 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 8: Cover: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/491810.html
Part 7: Copy Edits: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/491738.html
Part 6: Table of Contents: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/491496.html
Part 5: Editing: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/491105.html
Part 4: Slush Pile: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490870.html
Part 3: Funding: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490583.html
Part 2: Authors: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490491.html
Part 1: Concept: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490112.html


Ok, the stories have been edited and copy edited and you’ve created a file with all of the relevant information included, essentially the contents of the complete anthology when it’s printed. Now it needs to be designed, either for ebook, print, or both. Some editors and publishers do this themselves. I hire someone who has more design experience than I do to do it for Zombies Need Brains.

I usually send the copy edited file to the print designer first. (Note: This process came about after some trial and error and a sharp learning curve with the first few anthologies we produced.) The reason is because in order to get the correct dimensions for the final cover file, you need to know how many pages the print version is going to have so that you can account for the width of the spine on the cover flat. Once the print designer gets the file for the book, they begin the interior design of the book, creating a new file. This includes choosing a good, readable font for the print, choosing an appropriate font for the title, designing the chapter headers, incorporating any graphics that you have in the book into the file (such as graphics for the chapter headers, or illustrations interspersed through the written pages, etc.), formatting the pages so that everything is justified on the left and right and that there aren’t any weird spacing issues on any individual lines , making certain things are italicizes and bolded correctly, etc. The print designer is literally creating a file of exactly what each page in the final print version of the book will look like. If there is something wrong with this file, it will be wrong in the printed version.

Once I have this print-ready version of the anthology, I do what are called page proofs. I send the file to the editors and the authors for one last look. This is the LAST CHANCE for the authors or editors to make changes, and any changes they want to make have to SMALL. They can change nothing that will affect the page count of the book, so we’re talking fixing a few last typos that were missed (because there are always some), changing a word here or there, catching any weird formatting issues that cropped up during the design phase (such has paragraphs not being indented, paragraphs being indented too far, weird issues with italics and boldface, etc.). The authors of the stories are told to look at their story closely (as well as their author bio, the copyright page, the Table of Contents, and the signature page) and make certain their name is spelled right, the title of the story is correct, and report any errors they notice, because often you’ll see typos and such as soon as the story has been put into a different font or style or is showing up differently on your computer screen. I also have the editors read through the anthology looking for the same thing.

Meanwhile, the page count has been sent to the cover designer so that they can finalize the size of the cover flat file.

Once everyone has gotten back to me with their last minute changes for the page proofs, I send the file back to the print designer to make all of those changes. This new corrected file is sent to the ebook designer, who basically does the same thing as the print designer, except of course the file they’re creating is specific to the different ebook platforms. I have my ebook designer produce three types of ebook files—epubs, mobis, and PDFs. But of course there are other ebook file types out there.

In the end, what I’ll have is a set of files that I can use to produce ebooks and print books of the anthology. At this point, the only thing left to do is figure out how I want to distribute the books to the world, which is the last part of this series and this process. At least, the last part that I intend to discuss in this series.

And now a word from our sponsor:

*****************


Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (at http://tinyurl.com/insurgenturbar) 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:

THE RAZOR'S EDGE: One man’s insurgent is another man’s freedom fighter… Where is the line between the freedom fighter and the insurgent, or is it simply a matter of perspective? When does fighting for a cause slip from right to wrong, where does the moral high ground become immoral, and when do the ends no longer justify the means? Edited by Troy Bucher & Joshua Palmatier, this military SF&F anthology will explore the heroes and villains on both sides of insurgencies, both in the realms of science fiction and in fantasy. It will include short stories by: Gerald Brandt, William C. Dietz, D.B. Jackson, Chris Kennedy, Kay Kenyon, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Seanan McGuire, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., and Steve Perry.

SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR: In 2011, DAW Books published AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR-BAR, the first anthology edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, starting them down the road that eventually led to the formation of the small press Zombies Need Brains. Now, we’d like to return to that legendary time-traveling bar with all new stories set throughout the ages. Here you will find heroes and villains alike, as the immortal bartender Gilgamesh serves up drinks mixed with magic and a dash of intrigue. And if you’re lucky, perhaps he’ll even mix you up his own special elixir! Edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR will contain short stories by: Jacey Bedford, Gini Koch, Juliet E. McKenna, C.E. Murphy, Kristine Smith, and Kari Sperring.

GUILDS & GLAIVES: Sword and sorcery has long been a much beloved staple of the SF&F community. Who doesn’t like a daring thief skulking through back alleys in the dark of night, or a deranged mage conjuring death spells in a bubbling cauldron? This anthology will tackle the subgenre of thieves, assassins, guilds, and dark magic. Edited by S.C. Butler & Joshua Palmatier, GUILDS & GLAIVES will contain short stories by: David B. Coe, James Enge, David Farland, Esther Friesner, Howard Andrew Jones, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, and Seanan McGuire.

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




"The Razor's Edge" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
This is the eighth 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 7: Copy Edits: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/491738.html
Part 6: Table of Contents: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/491496.html
Part 5: Editing: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/491105.html
Part 4: Slush Pile: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490870.html
Part 3: Funding: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490583.html
Part 2: Authors: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490491.html
Part 1: Concept: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490112.html

While the copy editor, editors, and authors are looking through the file for errors and any changes they may want to make to make at this point, the main editor/publisher should be working on the cover. There are a few different things the editor needs to finalize.

First, of course, is the cover art itself. For a professional book, you should hire an artist to do the cover art. Readers in bookstores can spot a Photoshopped cover from across the store, and most don’t have a high opinion of any book with a Photoshopped cover. No one is supposed to judge a book by its cover, but the harsh reality is that EVERYONE judges a book by its cover. The cover is what first prompts the person to pick up a book and take a look. If the cover isn’t interesting, then no one will ever buy the book because no one will ever pick it up to check it out. So the cover must be good and look professional and the first step is great cover art.

But great cover art isn’t enough. The cover art needs to reflect the contents of the book in a meaningful way. In other words, the art on the cover should represent the book inside—the atmosphere, the feel of the story, the genre. If the reader pick up the book with the sci-fi-ish looking cover and then discovers that the book is a romance, that person’s going to be ticked. Because the person who picked up the book was expecting a sci-fi book. Giving them a romance instead isn’t going to make them happy. They WANTED sci-fi. They picked up the book thinking it was sci-fi. And now they’re reading about Lady Marcy, the squire, and his goat. In all likelihood, this read has now decided that the author and/or publisher is incompetent and won’t buy another book by this person/publisher again. So don’t just put any cover art on the book just because it looks cool; make certain it looks cool AND represents the book.

Let’s say we’ve got great cover art. You now need to come up with some back cover copy, telling the reader what the book is all about. This is probably the most important aspect of the cover aside from the art itself. This is what the reader will turn to if the cover prompts them to pick up the book in the first place. So you’ve got to make the book sound good, as in, you can’t put this down, you must own this, why are you even still reading, go to the counter and buy this now! I have to admit that I suck at this. Oh, sure, I can tell you what the book’s about, but I’m not that great at making it sound un-put-down-able. I usually write something up, then ship it off to Patricia so she can snazz it up. I’m getting better at it (I like to say to myself), but it’s much harder than it sounds. Keep in mind you’ve only got a limited amount of space to do this in, maybe 100 words, maybe 200, so it’s got to get to the point and leave an impression fast. Spend some time on this. Write something up, then let it sit for a few days and go over it again. Really ask yourself what’s special about the anthology, what makes it stand out on the shelf, what makes it different. That’s what you should focus on. And of course you should mention the authors who’ve contributed to the anthology.

There are a few other things you can add to the cover (front or back) of a book: If you’ve got some blurbs from famous people talking about the book, maybe put a few of those on there. Maybe you’ve got a really cool tagline for the cover of the book, to go along with the title and author/editors. Anything else, like awards won, bestseller taglines, etc., should also be considered.

Once you have everything you want on the cover, plus the art, you should send it to a graphic artist for design. The graphic artist should produce what’s called a cover flat—basically the back cover, spine, and front cover, all in one file. This is the “art” that will be wrapped around the book, as if the book had been unfolded and laid flat on a desk. So the back cover appears on the left, the spine in the middle, and the front over on the right. The cover design should pop, which means you need a good readable title font (again, a font pertaining to the contents of the book; you don’t want a frilly script font for a horror book) and a good readable basic font for the back cover. Remember, you want this cover to stand out on the shelves, when it’s surrounded by a hundred other books that ALSO want to stand out on the shelves. This cover design is important, so spend some time and money on it.

And now we’re nearing the end of the production cycle for creating an anthology. Only two more steps to go: Design and Distribution. Stick around! You’re almost there!

And now a word from our sponsor:

*****************

Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (at http://tinyurl.com/insurgenturbar) 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:

THE RAZOR'S EDGE: One man’s insurgent is another man’s freedom fighter… Where is the line between the freedom fighter and the insurgent, or is it simply a matter of perspective? When does fighting for a cause slip from right to wrong, where does the moral high ground become immoral, and when do the ends no longer justify the means? Edited by Troy Bucher & Joshua Palmatier, this military SF&F anthology will explore the heroes and villains on both sides of insurgencies, both in the realms of science fiction and in fantasy. It will include short stories by: Gerald Brandt, William C. Dietz, D.B. Jackson, Chris Kennedy, Kay Kenyon, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Seanan McGuire, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., and Steve Perry.

SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR: In 2011, DAW Books published AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR-BAR, the first anthology edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, starting them down the road that eventually led to the formation of the small press Zombies Need Brains. Now, we’d like to return to that legendary time-traveling bar with all new stories set throughout the ages. Here you will find heroes and villains alike, as the immortal bartender Gilgamesh serves up drinks mixed with magic and a dash of intrigue. And if you’re lucky, perhaps he’ll even mix you up his own special elixir! Edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR will contain short stories by: Jacey Bedford, Gini Koch, Juliet E. McKenna, C.E. Murphy, Kristine Smith, and Kari Sperring.

GUILDS & GLAIVES: Sword and sorcery has long been a much beloved staple of the SF&F community. Who doesn’t like a daring thief skulking through back alleys in the dark of night, or a deranged mage conjuring death spells in a bubbling cauldron? This anthology will tackle the subgenre of thieves, assassins, guilds, and dark magic. Edited by S.C. Butler & Joshua Palmatier, GUILDS & GLAIVES will contain short stories by: David B. Coe, James Enge, David Farland, Esther Friesner, Howard Andrew Jones, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, and Seanan McGuire.

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




"The Razor's Edge" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
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: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/491496.html
Part 5: Editing: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/491105.html
Part 4: Slush Pile: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490870.html
Part 3: Funding: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490583.html
Part 2: Authors: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490491.html
Part 1: Concept: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490112.html

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 (at http://tinyurl.com/insurgenturbar) 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:

THE RAZOR'S EDGE: One man’s insurgent is another man’s freedom fighter… Where is the line between the freedom fighter and the insurgent, or is it simply a matter of perspective? When does fighting for a cause slip from right to wrong, where does the moral high ground become immoral, and when do the ends no longer justify the means? Edited by Troy Bucher & Joshua Palmatier, this military SF&F anthology will explore the heroes and villains on both sides of insurgencies, both in the realms of science fiction and in fantasy. It will include short stories by: Gerald Brandt, William C. Dietz, D.B. Jackson, Chris Kennedy, Kay Kenyon, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Seanan McGuire, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., and Steve Perry.

SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR: In 2011, DAW Books published AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR-BAR, the first anthology edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, starting them down the road that eventually led to the formation of the small press Zombies Need Brains. Now, we’d like to return to that legendary time-traveling bar with all new stories set throughout the ages. Here you will find heroes and villains alike, as the immortal bartender Gilgamesh serves up drinks mixed with magic and a dash of intrigue. And if you’re lucky, perhaps he’ll even mix you up his own special elixir! Edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR will contain short stories by: Jacey Bedford, Gini Koch, Juliet E. McKenna, C.E. Murphy, Kristine Smith, and Kari Sperring.

GUILDS & GLAIVES: Sword and sorcery has long been a much beloved staple of the SF&F community. Who doesn’t like a daring thief skulking through back alleys in the dark of night, or a deranged mage conjuring death spells in a bubbling cauldron? This anthology will tackle the subgenre of thieves, assassins, guilds, and dark magic. Edited by S.C. Butler & Joshua Palmatier, GUILDS & GLAIVES will contain short stories by: David B. Coe, James Enge, David Farland, Esther Friesner, Howard Andrew Jones, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, and Seanan McGuire.

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




"The Razor's Edge" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
This is the sixth 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 5: Editing: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/491105.html
Part 4: Slush Pile: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490870.html
Part 3: Funding: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490583.html
Part 2: Authors: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490491.html
Part 1: Concept: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490112.html

So at this point you’ve got all of your stories back to your authors with revision notes and they’re working on revisions. Editors don’t get to sit back and relax at this point. There are other things to do, and one of those is the Table of Contents for the anthology. You might think that this is just writing down what stories are in the anthology and then you’re done. You’d be wrong.

The Table of Contents is a little more complicated than that and ends of requiring a lot more time than you’d think. Patricia and I have literally spent hours trying to figure it out, often with breaks because we both had a headache. Now, it may be that the ToC is obvious, such as with our anthology AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR-BAR, where the stories had a chronological order. But most anthologies don’t have a set-up like that. Which means you need to carefully consider what order you want the stories to appear in the book.

The first and last story in the anthology should be two of your strongest stories AND they should also be stories that epitomize the theme of the story, especially that first one. Why? Because readers who are searching the shelves at the bookstore may pick up the anthology and most people turn to the first story (or sometimes the last) in order to see what kind of stories they’ll find in the book. You need to have a good, solid introductory story to get them into the theme. And if someone does buy the anthology and reads it, you’ll want them to end the anthology on a high note, so perhaps they’ll run out and buy one of your other anthologies.

You can’t simply throw the other stories in the middle either. You should try to vary the tones and atmospheres and concepts. You don’t want to put all of your dark stories in one group, or all your humorous ones, because that becomes repetitive for the reader. You need to alternate them a little bit—perhaps a humorous story followed by a dark one, then a medium-ish story in tone, then a lighter one, etc. Do the same for the concepts, don’t group the werewolf stories together when you’ve got vampires and fae to mix it up. Basically, you don’t want the reader to be reading through the anthology and ever have the feeling or say to themselves, “I just read this story.” If you’ve designed the concept of the anthology so that it’s broad enough, then you’ll have a variety of themes and tones in the stories you accepted. You should be able to make the reading experience jump around in those themes and tones so the reader is getting different experience from story to story.

For Zombies Need Brains anthologies, where we have anchor authors and other authors pulled from the slush pile, we also try to alternate between the two types of authors, although this isn’t really necessary. But we find mixing familiar names with unfamiliar ones keeps the reader reading as well, and may even give the reader an unconscious nudge to try some of the authors they don’t recognize. Because, let’s face it, most people buy anthologies because they recognize a few names in the Table of Contents. Often, they’ll open the anthology and read the familiar authors’ stories first, no matter where they are in the anthology. Having them read some of the other stories, and perhaps find new favorite authors, is one of the best things about producing anthologies in the first place.

So think carefully about how you place the stories in an anthology’s Table of Contents. It is more important than simply listing those stories in order. Shoot for some variety, so the reading experience is a rollercoaster of a ride.

And now a word from our sponsor:

*****************

Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (at http://tinyurl.com/insurgenturbar) 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:

THE RAZOR'S EDGE: One man’s insurgent is another man’s freedom fighter… Where is the line between the freedom fighter and the insurgent, or is it simply a matter of perspective? When does fighting for a cause slip from right to wrong, where does the moral high ground become immoral, and when do the ends no longer justify the means? Edited by Troy Bucher & Joshua Palmatier, this military SF&F anthology will explore the heroes and villains on both sides of insurgencies, both in the realms of science fiction and in fantasy. It will include short stories by: Gerald Brandt, William C. Dietz, D.B. Jackson, Chris Kennedy, Kay Kenyon, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Seanan McGuire, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., and Steve Perry.

SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR: In 2011, DAW Books published AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR-BAR, the first anthology edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, starting them down the road that eventually led to the formation of the small press Zombies Need Brains. Now, we’d like to return to that legendary time-traveling bar with all new stories set throughout the ages. Here you will find heroes and villains alike, as the immortal bartender Gilgamesh serves up drinks mixed with magic and a dash of intrigue. And if you’re lucky, perhaps he’ll even mix you up his own special elixir! Edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR will contain short stories by: Jacey Bedford, Gini Koch, Juliet E. McKenna, C.E. Murphy, Kristine Smith, and Kari Sperring.

GUILDS & GLAIVES: Sword and sorcery has long been a much beloved staple of the SF&F community. Who doesn’t like a daring thief skulking through back alleys in the dark of night, or a deranged mage conjuring death spells in a bubbling cauldron? This anthology will tackle the subgenre of thieves, assassins, guilds, and dark magic. Edited by S.C. Butler & Joshua Palmatier, GUILDS & GLAIVES will contain short stories by: David B. Coe, James Enge, David Farland, Esther Friesner, Howard Andrew Jones, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, and Seanan McGuire.

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




"The Razor's Edge" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
This is the fifth of a series of blog posts that I wrote last year in order to show how I create the anthologies for Zombies Need Brains. 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 4: Slush Pile: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490870.html
Part 3: Funding: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490583.html
Part 2: Authors: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490491.html
Part 1: Concept: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490112.html

At this point, you now have all of the stories you intend to put into the anthology. Now comes the heart of your job: editing. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

First, of course, you need to read through all of the stories with an eye towards how you can make the story better. That’s the entire goal. And at the same time, you have to respect the integrity of the author—their style, their voice, the story that they intended to tell. You aren’t trying to rewrite their story to what YOU think it should be; you’re trying to understand the heart of the story that the author wanted to tell and figure out how to improve on what’s written on the paper. It’s rare that a story can’t be improved in some manner. Writers aren’t perfect. In fact, most writers are, in general, unhappy with the story they wrote on some level, because they had this grand vision of the story in their head, and rarely does that grand vision translate completely onto the page. (I can say this because I’ve written so much myself and it never comes out the way I imagined it in my head.) So most writers are open to suggestions for how to improve the story … as long as they recognize that you respect what they wrote in the first place.

And that’s probably the key to editing: everything you say is just a suggestion. You should phrase the revision letter that you send to each author with that in mind. What you try to do as an editor is explain where you feel there are flaws in the story—plot holes, characters acting out of character, infodumps, too much setting, too little setting, not enough worldbuilding, too much worldbuilding, etc. You need to get across to the author why you feel there is a flaw there. If they can see why you have a problem with that section, then they can figure out a way to fix it. (Note: At this stage, you are NOT looking for typos or grammar errors or small stuff that like; you’re looking for the big picture story issues—plot, structure, character, setting, worldbuilding, etc.) Sometimes I’ll offer up a few suggestions as to how I might fix it, but this is mainly an attempt to clarify what I think the issue is in that section. I don’t expect the author to use my suggestions (unless they want to). In fact, I expect them to come up with their own solution, because in the end it’s their story and they usually come up with a better fix anyway. But even then, the decision to change the story in any way is still the author’s. And they may decide that the way it’s currently written is fine and not change anything at all in that section.

Basically, you need to remember that you’re dealing with real people, who are more personally involved in the story than you are. They’ve poured their heart into the story. One of the more delicate interactions you’re going to have during the entire course of creating this anthology will be writing the revision letters for the authors. You need to get across what you think can be improved, but at the same time you can’t be completely and totally blunt about it (unless you’ve worked with the author many times already and have an understanding with them). The majority of the time, I’m dealing with authors I’ve never worked with before. I don’t know how they’d react to a short, blunt assessment of the story. So write the revision letter with the idea that you and the author are collaborators. You both have the same goal: make the story better.

Writers need to keep this in mind as well. The editor (if they’re a good editor) isn’t trying to tear your story apart. They like the story, otherwise it wouldn’t have made it to the editing stage. They simply want to polish it up, take off its sharper edges, make it shine. Yes, it’s hard to step back and try to see what the editor is trying to say, especially after you struggled to get those words down on the page in the first place, but remember that they’re trying to make the story the best it can possibly be. And also remember that, in the end, you don’t have to listen to them. A good editor simply wants you to consider what they’re saying, because they don’t have the personal attachment to the story. They have a little distance, perhaps enough to see things that you haven’t yet. The editor’s suggestions are not attacks.

Once you’ve written the revision letters, the majority of the work passes back onto the authors. You have to give them a little time to absorb your suggestions, to come to terms with them, and then come up with their own solutions. As an editor, mostly you’re just waiting for the “final” stories to come back in. But be prepared to have a few conversations with the authors as well. They may bounce ideas off of you. They may need to discuss your suggestions—either to clarify what you meant or even to disagree with you and try to explain why. Often these conversations lead to a better understanding of what the story wants to be by both the editor and the author. Throughout this process, both sides need to keep in mind that it’s a collaboration.

While the authors are working on their revisions, what the editor should be doing is considering the Table of Contents for the anthology. This is a surprisingly complicated process for most anthologies, so will be the topic of the next post in this blog series.

And now a word from our sponsor:

*****************

Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (at http://tinyurl.com/insurgenturbar) 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:

THE RAZOR'S EDGE: One man’s insurgent is another man’s freedom fighter… Where is the line between the freedom fighter and the insurgent, or is it simply a matter of perspective? When does fighting for a cause slip from right to wrong, where does the moral high ground become immoral, and when do the ends no longer justify the means? Edited by Troy Bucher & Joshua Palmatier, this military SF&F anthology will explore the heroes and villains on both sides of insurgencies, both in the realms of science fiction and in fantasy. It will include short stories by: Gerald Brandt, William C. Dietz, D.B. Jackson, Chris Kennedy, Kay Kenyon, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Seanan McGuire, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., and Steve Perry.

SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR: In 2011, DAW Books published AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR-BAR, the first anthology edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, starting them down the road that eventually led to the formation of the small press Zombies Need Brains. Now, we’d like to return to that legendary time-traveling bar with all new stories set throughout the ages. Here you will find heroes and villains alike, as the immortal bartender Gilgamesh serves up drinks mixed with magic and a dash of intrigue. And if you’re lucky, perhaps he’ll even mix you up his own special elixir! Edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR will contain short stories by: Jacey Bedford, Gini Koch, Juliet E. McKenna, C.E. Murphy, Kristine Smith, and Kari Sperring.

GUILDS & GLAIVES: Sword and sorcery has long been a much beloved staple of the SF&F community. Who doesn’t like a daring thief skulking through back alleys in the dark of night, or a deranged mage conjuring death spells in a bubbling cauldron? This anthology will tackle the subgenre of thieves, assassins, guilds, and dark magic. Edited by S.C. Butler & Joshua Palmatier, GUILDS & GLAIVES will contain short stories by: David B. Coe, James Enge, David Farland, Esther Friesner, Howard Andrew Jones, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, and Seanan McGuire.

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




"The Razor's Edge" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
This is the fourth 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.

This part of the series focuses on reading through the slush pile generated by the open call that Zombies Need Brains does for all of our recent anthologies. If you aren’t doing an open call for submissions, you can probably skip to the next part of the series. Here are the previous parts of the series:

Part 3: Funding: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490583.html
Part 2: Authors: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490491.html
Part 1: Concept: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490112.html

ZNB firmly believes that sometimes the best stories for a particular theme will come from an unknown source and we want to support finding new and interesting voices in the SF&F field. Because of this, we run an open call for submissions for each of our anthologies, so that anyone with a story that fits the theme can submit and possibly end up in the anthology. I believe every anthology we’ve produced has contained at least one story from an unknown, unpublished author. Not because we specifically searched an unpublished author’s story out, but because they rose to the top of the slush pile on their own merits.

If you’re putting together an anthology, I strongly suggest that you have an open call for that anthology. But be aware that the slush pile has its own positives and negatives. The positive is that you’ll have a ton of stories to choose from, which means you’re going to get the best possible stories for your anthology. The negative is that you’ll have a ton of stories to choose from, which means you’re going to have to READ all of those stories to find the best possible ones for your anthology.

Depending on how many submissions you get, reading the slush pile can be time-consuming and often painful. But it’s worth it in the end. At this point, ZNB doesn’t receive so many stories with its open calls that they are impossible to get through. I personally read all of the stories, and I typically read them all the way through. Most editors reading slush piles don’t do this though. Writers have to capture the editor’s attention within the first page or two, give them a reason to keep reading to the end. I usually know within the first page or two whether or not we’ll be seriously considering the story for the anthology or not, but I keep reading (sometimes just skimming) to the end to see if there’s something there to change my mind. Only in extreme cases, where the writing is horrible or the story is obviously completely off theme, do I stop reading before I reach the end. Why do I read to the end? Because sometimes there’s a story that doesn’t really start until about halfway through, and then suddenly it clicks and gets good. If the writer just cut that first half off, maybe worked in anything relevant in that first half into the second somehow, then you’d have a stellar story. I don’t want to miss out on a good story because of that.

However, I can only do this because we aren’t being completely overwhelmed with stories. With each new anthology we produce, the number of submissions continues to grow. I expect that soon I’ll have to give up reading all stories to the end, simply because there won’t be enough time. At some point in the future, I may even have to rely on some slush pile readers to wade through it all and send me only what they feel are the best stories, so I may only end up reading part of this slush pile. As an anthologist, you may have to do this as well. You may want to do this anyway, regardless of how many submissions you get, simply so you can focus on other aspects of the process. This is simply a reality of open call submissions and it emphasizes that, when a writer submits a story, they MUST make it the best possible story you can before submission and they MUST have a strong opening.

For the writers out there: In that first page, perhaps even first paragraph, give the editor the “cool factor” of your story. Give them a strong character and strong voice. Give them a unique setting. Give them a hook to keep the editor reading. And please, please, please give them a story that actually fits the theme of the anthology! I’d estimate that at least 20% of all submissions I read for a particular anthology for ZNB don’t fit the theme—aren’t even CLOSE to the theme.

So slush piles have advantages and disadvantages, but I still strongly believe in them for finding the best stories for an anthology. If you have a story that fits, revise it, then revise it again, make it the strongest story you possibly can, and then submit it. If you’re an editor, prepare yourself for some heavy duty reading, some excruciating reading perhaps, but also prepare yourself for discovering that gem buried in the slush pile that makes your anthology shine.

At this point in the process of creating an anthology, you have all of the stories that you want to use, whether they came from invited authors or the slush pile. What’s next? Well, the actual job: editing. That’s the next focus in this series.

And now a word from our sponsor:

*****************

Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (at http://tinyurl.com/insurgenturbar) 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:

THE RAZOR'S EDGE: One man’s insurgent is another man’s freedom fighter… Where is the line between the freedom fighter and the insurgent, or is it simply a matter of perspective? When does fighting for a cause slip from right to wrong, where does the moral high ground become immoral, and when do the ends no longer justify the means? Edited by Troy Bucher & Joshua Palmatier, this military SF&F anthology will explore the heroes and villains on both sides of insurgencies, both in the realms of science fiction and in fantasy. It will include short stories by: Gerald Brandt, William C. Dietz, D.B. Jackson, Chris Kennedy, Kay Kenyon, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Seanan McGuire, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., and Steve Perry.

SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR: In 2011, DAW Books published AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR-BAR, the first anthology edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, starting them down the road that eventually led to the formation of the small press Zombies Need Brains. Now, we’d like to return to that legendary time-traveling bar with all new stories set throughout the ages. Here you will find heroes and villains alike, as the immortal bartender Gilgamesh serves up drinks mixed with magic and a dash of intrigue. And if you’re lucky, perhaps he’ll even mix you up his own special elixir! Edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR will contain short stories by: Jacey Bedford, Gini Koch, Juliet E. McKenna, C.E. Murphy, Kristine Smith, and Kari Sperring.

GUILDS & GLAIVES: Sword and sorcery has long been a much beloved staple of the SF&F community. Who doesn’t like a daring thief skulking through back alleys in the dark of night, or a deranged mage conjuring death spells in a bubbling cauldron? This anthology will tackle the subgenre of thieves, assassins, guilds, and dark magic. Edited by S.C. Butler & Joshua Palmatier, GUILDS & GLAIVES will contain short stories by: David B. Coe, James Enge, David Farland, Esther Friesner, Howard Andrew Jones, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, and Seanan McGuire.

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




"The Razor's Edge" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
This is the third of a series of blog posts that I wrote last year in order to show how I create the anthologies for Zombies Need Brains. 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.

Once you have your theme nailed down [see http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490112.html], and you have some or all of the authors lined up (unless you’re doing an anthology where you find the stories purely through an open call) [here http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490491.html], the next question you really need to ask yourself—and it’s the most important question of all really—is how you’re going to fund the anthology. There are TONS of costs involved in an anthology. Producing one isn’t even remotely close to being cheap. Not if you want a professional-looking product in the end, anyway. And Zombies Need Brains is all about producing professional-quality books. Here are some of those costs laid out for you:

Payment of the authors: No author wants to work for nothing. If you can figure out a way to pay them something, do so. ZNB has a policy that we will always pay the authors a minimum of what SFWA (the Science Fiction Writer of America) deems professional pay. Right now, that’s 6 cents per word. If it goes up, we’ll increase what we pay. But whatever you decide to pay the authors, and whatever they agree is fair, YOU NEED TO PAY YOUR AUTHORS! On time. No excuses. ZNB is proud that we’ve been prompt with advances and royalties since we started and we intend to continue.

Payment to the cover artist: Your anthology really needs good cover art. Readers can spot Photoshopped covers from across the bookstore and the general reaction to them is, “Not a quality cover, there can’t possibly be quality stories inside.” This may or may not be true, but books are unfortunately judged by their covers. You need to invest in high quality cover art, and you need to pay your cover artist. The same principles apply here as for the authors above. And no, good cover art isn’t generally cheap. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be exorbitant either. But it’s another cost you need to factor into your funding.

Payment to the ebook and print designers: Again, what the ebook and print books look like on the inside MATTERS! It pays to pay someone to do a professional job on both. And again, this costs money and needs to be factored into your funding. Same principles as authors and artists.

Payment for a cover designer: Same principles as above. Pay for quality cover design. You want the book to stand out on the shelf, right? That doesn’t all come from the cover art. The title, back cover copy, etc. are all important as well.

Payment of editors and copy editors: This is starting to sound redundant and you probably get the point, but again, PAY FOR QUALITY SERVICE! No one wants to read a book with grammar errors and typos every two sentences. Hire someone to find and fix all of those errors! You want to put out the best product possible.

OK, enough of that, you get the idea. Quality matters. Pay for it. But HOW do you pay for it? Well, if you’re independently wealthy then this is a mote point, so you should just skip to the next step in this process. However, I’M not independently wealthy. Which means that I needed to find a way to raise the funds for these project dreams of mine. If you happen to have an “in” with a traditional publisher, perhaps you can sell the idea to one of them, or even perhaps a small press. Basically, for both of these, you’re going to have to pitch the anthology theme to them, along with any authors you have lined up, and perhaps they’ll be interested enough to offer you a contract. (This is how Patricia Bray and I sold our first two anthologies—AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR-BAR and THE MODERN FAE’S GUIDE TO SURVIVING HUMANITY--to DAW.) Another simple (HA!) way is to get a loan—from a bank, from a friend, whatever. I have no experience with this, so leave that to you to figure out. I chose not to do this because I fear debt and don’t want to “owe” anyone anything, whether it’s a bank or my mom or a friend or whatever. So if you don’t just have the money, or you’ve pitched it to a publisher with no success, and don’t want to get a loan, what’s left? Thankfully, we have this new social entrepreneurial (holy s**t I spelled that correctly on the first try) thing called crowdfunding. Seriously, ZNB would not exist without crowdfunding. Ten years ago, what I’m doing now would have been impossible. So:

Crowdfunding: This is what we’re doing right now in an attempt to fund three new anthologies. Basically, you work up a write-up of your theme and your authors (if you have some) and you post your project on one of the crowdfunding sites out there, such as Kickstarter (what we use), Indiegogo, Patreon (if the project fits), GoFundMe, etc. Then you hope your project gets funded. Trust me, this is no cakewalk. There are hundreds of factors playing into whether a crowdfunded project succeeds. One of the reasons I think ZNB has been so successful (although we haven’t succeeded with all of our projects) is that we have the anchor authors helping us reach a large number of people. And that’s key. You need to reach a large audience, and hope they’re excited enough about the theme to hand you some money to make it happen. If you’re going to rely on just your friends and family to fund your project with crowdfunding, then why aren’t you just asking them for a loan? Besides, don’t you want to reach out the fans anyway? Don’t you want the book to get into their hands so they can read it, love it, and talk about it to other fans? The only way to do that is to somehow figure out a way to go BEYOND your own friends and family. I use the help of my anchor authors and the contacts that I’ve made through attending conventions, through my own published novels, through the previous Kickstarters I’ve run, etc. I’m slowly building up an audience that knows and trusts ZNB. But that takes effort and work and a ton of stress. When you start from scratch, it’s going to be difficult and you really need to plan ahead.

How can you get word of your project out there to others? Anchor authors, of course. Write a press release and send it to your local newspapers, radio stations, etc. Join some forums online ahead of time that might be interested in your project and participate in those forums; then when the project goes live, talk it up in the forums. Same for chat rooms, groups on Facebook, Yahoo!, etc. Go to conventions and talk about the project with people you meet in a friendly, casual way. All of these things need to be worked out AHEAD OF TIME, not after you’ve started the crowdfunding. It takes preparation and planning and, again, hard work.

There are also crowdfunding companies out there that attempt to specialize in bringing backers to your projects. ZNB has not used any of these companies, so you certainly don’t NEED them, but if that’s the route you want to go, then let me just say: be careful. Many, MANY of these companies are just scams. Do your research, find out about the company, look at some of the projects they say they’ve helped, contact the people running those projects and ask them how it was working with that company. Basically, make absolutely certain that the company is legitimate. Otherwise you’re wasting your money and your time. (As an aside, as soon as you start your crowdfunding campaign, you are going to be deluged with these companies contacting you—by message, by email, by phone [yes, phone]. Prepare yourself ahead of time.)

In the end, you need to find a way to get the money to make this anthology happen, and again, this is the most difficult and stressful part of the project. If this doesn’t happen, the project is dead in the water. Treat the funding of the anthology seriously, whether it’s getting another publisher to back your project, getting a loan, or using crowdfunding. In a beautiful world, we wouldn’t have to worry about the money, but we just don’t live there.

Let’s now take a breather and say the stress of funding the project is over. You’ve got the money, you’ve got the theme, you may even have some, none, or all of the authors lined up and ready to go. What’s next? Well, this is an anthology, isn’t it? You need STORIES. The next two posts in this series will be about reading that slush pile (if you have one) and then editing those stories once you’ve got them in hand. Stay tuned!

And now a word from our sponsor:

*****************

Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (at http://tinyurl.com/insurgenturbar) 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:

THE RAZOR'S EDGE: One man’s insurgent is another man’s freedom fighter… Where is the line between the freedom fighter and the insurgent, or is it simply a matter of perspective? When does fighting for a cause slip from right to wrong, where does the moral high ground become immoral, and when do the ends no longer justify the means? Edited by Troy Bucher & Joshua Palmatier, this military SF&F anthology will explore the heroes and villains on both sides of insurgencies, both in the realms of science fiction and in fantasy. It will include short stories by: Gerald Brandt, William C. Dietz, D.B. Jackson, Chris Kennedy, Kay Kenyon, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Seanan McGuire, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., and Steve Perry.

SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR: In 2011, DAW Books published AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR-BAR, the first anthology edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, starting them down the road that eventually led to the formation of the small press Zombies Need Brains. Now, we’d like to return to that legendary time-traveling bar with all new stories set throughout the ages. Here you will find heroes and villains alike, as the immortal bartender Gilgamesh serves up drinks mixed with magic and a dash of intrigue. And if you’re lucky, perhaps he’ll even mix you up his own special elixir! Edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR will contain short stories by: Jacey Bedford, Gini Koch, Juliet E. McKenna, C.E. Murphy, Kristine Smith, and Kari Sperring.

GUILDS & GLAIVES: Sword and sorcery has long been a much beloved staple of the SF&F community. Who doesn’t like a daring thief skulking through back alleys in the dark of night, or a deranged mage conjuring death spells in a bubbling cauldron? This anthology will tackle the subgenre of thieves, assassins, guilds, and dark magic. Edited by S.C. Butler & Joshua Palmatier, GUILDS & GLAIVES will contain short stories by: David B. Coe, James Enge, David Farland, Esther Friesner, Howard Andrew Jones, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, and Seanan McGuire.

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




"The Razor's Edge" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
This is the second of a series of blog posts that I wrote last year in order to show how I create the anthologies for Zombies Need Brains. 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.

So, in Step 1 (which you can find here: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490112.html) we discussed finding a good, solid concept for the anthology. If you’ve got the theme nailed down, the next thing that I consider is what authors I might want to invite to have stories in the anthology. For ZNB anthologies, I like to fill up about half of the anthology with authors that readers will recognize. The main reason is marketing: I’m going to be running a Kickstarter to fund the anthology and backers are more likely to back a project if they recognize some of the authors involved. Also, it helps to be able to call upon the fans of the authors participating. I’m realistic enough to know that my own fan base wouldn’t be a large enough pool of people to get the funding I’ll need. But it’s more than just to help get the funding. I include known authors because AFTER the anthology has been produced, readers are more likely to pick up a book and buy it if they know a few of the authors in the book. So there are multiple things to consider when I look at authors to invite to be what I call “anchor authors.”

You have to take your theme into account when inviting authors. Find authors who’s books are related to your theme, because their fans are likely to be interested in an anthology about something close to what that author writes about. This is probably the most important aspect to consider. If someone writes fantasy, but it’s a sci-fi anthology, you probably shouldn’t invite that author to participate. Their fans aren’t likely to back or buy the anthology. But if they write urban fantasy and your anthology deals with fae creatures, then add them to the invite list. Even if they’re writing about werewolves and vampires, their fans might be interested in seeing what they can do with the fae.

On a purely marketing level, you should also consider how large their fan base is, and whether or not they’re going to promote the book and/or Kickstarter once it goes out into the wild. Will they be enthusiastic about the project? Will they want their fans to know? Do they have a presence on social media so they can get the word out to their fans? Do they attend conventions and are they willing to wave around cover flats of the book when they’re there? All of these things must be taken into account when deciding who should be invited and who should not. It’s just the nature of the business.

Once you have your list of possible invites, of course you need to ask the authors if they’re interested. Be prepared for many of them to say that they can’t participate, because many authors are already extremely busy and extremely overbooked. It helps to have a personal connection to the author, of course, which is how I find and generate most of my own anchor authors. I talk to authors at cons, tell them about the small press, tell them about the anthologies we’ve already produced, and see if they’d be interested in being invited to future anthologies. If they’ve met you in person, they’re more likely to take a chance on your project. That’s not always possible of course, but it helps. Once you build up a name for yourself or your small press, then maybe you’ll have authors approaching you asking to participate (which has started to happen for ZNB), but until that point, you’ll have to do some legwork in order to find the authors that you want.

That’s how ZNB approaches finding its anchor authors. For the other half of the anthology, we do an open call for submissions and then sort through the resultant slush pile for the best stories. These can come from other known authors or from people who’ve never been published. One of the founding principles of ZNB is that we want to do an open call whenever possible, because often our best stories come from the slush pile. At this point, we’re small enough that we CAN do this, and we intend to continue this practice for as long as possible.

There are, of course, other ways to find your authors for the anthology. Perhaps you already know people who want to work with you on the anthology, such as friends, etc. Perhaps you want to do an open call for submissions for ALL of the story slots in the anthology. Or maybe you already know a bunch of professional writers who are dying to participate and you have your pick and can fill the whole book with known authors. Obviously, the model I use (half anchor authors, half open submissions) might not be the best fit for you.

However you find the authors for your anthology, you need a good strong showing of stories. But suppose you’ve got your list of authors (or anchor authors). What comes next? Funding. How do you intend to pay those authors, the cover artist, the interior designers, the cover designer, the ebook designer, etc. Creating an anthology isn’t free. That will be the next post in this blog series.

And now a word from our sponsor:

*****************

Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (at http://tinyurl.com/insurgenturbar) 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:

THE RAZOR'S EDGE: One man’s insurgent is another man’s freedom fighter… Where is the line between the freedom fighter and the insurgent, or is it simply a matter of perspective? When does fighting for a cause slip from right to wrong, where does the moral high ground become immoral, and when do the ends no longer justify the means?  Edited by Troy Bucher & Joshua Palmatier, this military SF&F anthology will explore the heroes and villains on both sides of insurgencies, both in the realms of science fiction and in fantasy. It will include short stories by: Gerald Brandt, William C. Dietz, D.B. Jackson, Chris Kennedy, Kay Kenyon, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Seanan McGuire, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., and Steve Perry.

SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR: In 2011, DAW Books published AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR-BAR, the first anthology edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, starting them down the road that eventually led to the formation of the small press Zombies Need Brains. Now, we’d like to return to that legendary time-traveling bar with all new stories set throughout the ages. Here you will find heroes and villains alike, as the immortal bartender Gilgamesh serves up drinks mixed with magic and a dash of intrigue. And if you’re lucky, perhaps he’ll even mix you up his own special elixir! Edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR will contain short stories by: Jacey Bedford, Gini Koch, Juliet E. McKenna, C.E. Murphy, Kristine Smith, and Kari Sperring.

GUILDS & GLAIVES: Sword and sorcery has long been a much beloved staple of the SF&F community. Who doesn’t like a daring thief skulking through back alleys in the dark of night, or a deranged mage conjuring death spells in a bubbling cauldron? This anthology will tackle the subgenre of thieves, assassins, guilds, and dark magic. Edited by S.C. Butler & Joshua Palmatier, GUILDS & GLAIVES will contain short stories by: David B. Coe, James Enge, David Farland, Esther Friesner, Howard Andrew Jones, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, and Seanan McGuire.

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




"The Razor's Edge" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
This is the first of a series of blog posts that I wrote last year 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.

So the first step in creating an anthology--at least a themed anthology, like the ones Zombies Need Brains creates--is to come up with a concept. This isn't as easy as it sounds. Ideas are a dime a dozen and can be found on every street corner. The problem is that not every idea will actually work as an anthology theme. There are some key aspects to the idea that need to be present in order for the anthology to work.

First, the idea has to have an immediate "cool" factor. There are two main reasons for this--it needs to appeal to writers and is needs to appeal to readers.

An anthology is, of course, composed of short stories and in order to get good short stories to fill your anthology, you need to have an idea that appeals to writers. When you give your elevator pitch for the theme to an author, their eyes need to light up and they need to say, "Oooo! That's cool! I already have an idea for it!" That initial idea they have is probably too cliche or obvious, but the key fact is that your theme must seize a writer by the throat with its awesomeness and squeeze the creative juices out of them. If you propose your theme and the writer sits back and says, "I need to think on this to see if I can come up with something, I'll get back to you," then the anthology has already failed. If you can't inspire the writers to write stunning stories, then you won't be able to pull the readers in either.

And that's the second thing about the theme's "cool" factor: it needs to draw in readers. You want people to buy the anthology, don't you? Well then, it better have a theme that makes readers sit up and say, "That rocks! I must have this anthology!" If you give the reader the elevator pitch, they need to immediately ask, "Where's the book?" Otherwise, it's never going to sell.

But a stunning "cool" factor isn't enough either. Your theme needs to be focused and broad all at the same time. It can't be too narrow, because then you'll end up getting a set of stories that are all exactly the same, and no one wants to read an anthology of story after story where they all involve exactly the same characters, set-up, setting, or outcome. There needs to be some room for variety, for the authors to interpret the theme in different and unique ways. For example, an anthology about werewolves with vampire lovers and an aversion to the night and the moon. You might get a few good stories with that theme, but once you put fifteen of them together in an anthology, they're going to start to sound repetitive.

At the same time, it can't be too broad either. If it's too broad, you'll end up with stories that are wildly different and perhaps have no cohesiveness to them at all. At that point, you may as well just say you're collecting random SF&F stories for the anthology. The themes needs to be narrowed down enough that there's some uniqueness to your anthology, something that makes it stand out on the shelves, but leave enough room for some variety between the stories. Again, this uniqueness should be part of the "cool" factor.

I think the Zombies Need Brains anthology CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK VS ALIENS had such a theme--aliens invade a steampunk Earth. Focused but broad. As soon as Patricia Bray and I mentioned "steampunk vs aliens," most writers got all wide-eyed and you could see the idea engine spit out smoke and start churning. I don't think anyone we asked said they'd have to get back to us on whether they wanted to participate. Same for the readers. I think that's why that first Kickstarter we ran actually made its goal; readers were drawn in instantly by the concept. I see it happening again and again at the dealer's tables I set up for ZNB at cons. At the same time, the idea is broad enough that writers have some room to play with the idea. We never specify whether the aliens or the steampunk society wins. We never said what kind of aliens invade. This left a lot of leeway for the writers to get creative, which in the end gave as an extremely broad spectrum of stories. Variety is the spice of life, as they say.

So, coming up with a good, solid concept for your anthology is the first step. Once you have that idea nailed down, you're ready to move on to the next step: collecting authors and/or stories. That will be the topic of the next blog post in this series. In the meantime, here's a message from your sponsor:

*****************

Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (at http://tinyurl.com/insurgenturbar) 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:

THE RAZOR'S EDGE: One man’s insurgent is another man’s freedom fighter… Where is the line between the freedom fighter and the insurgent, or is it simply a matter of perspective? When does fighting for a cause slip from right to wrong, where does the moral high ground become immoral, and when do the ends no longer justify the means?  Edited by Troy Bucher & Joshua Palmatier, this military SF&F anthology will explore the heroes and villains on both sides of insurgencies, both in the realms of science fiction and in fantasy. It will include short stories by: Gerald Brandt, William C. Dietz, D.B. Jackson, Chris Kennedy, Kay Kenyon, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Seanan McGuire, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., and Steve Perry.

SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR: In 2011, DAW Books published AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR-BAR, the first anthology edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, starting them down the road that eventually led to the formation of the small press Zombies Need Brains. Now, we’d like to return to that legendary time-traveling bar with all new stories set throughout the ages. Here you will find heroes and villains alike, as the immortal bartender Gilgamesh serves up drinks mixed with magic and a dash of intrigue. And if you’re lucky, perhaps he’ll even mix you up his own special elixir! Edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR will contain short stories by: Jacey Bedford, Gini Koch, Juliet E. McKenna, C.E. Murphy, Kristine Smith, and Kari Sperring.

GUILDS & GLAIVES: Sword and sorcery has long been a much beloved staple of the SF&F community. Who doesn’t like a daring thief skulking through back alleys in the dark of night, or a deranged mage conjuring death spells in a bubbling cauldron? This anthology will tackle the subgenre of thieves, assassins, guilds, and dark magic. Edited by S.C. Butler & Joshua Palmatier, GUILDS & GLAIVES will contain short stories by: David B. Coe, James Enge, David Farland, Esther Friesner, Howard Andrew Jones, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, and Seanan McGuire.

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




"The Razor's Edge" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios

Profile

jpskewedthrone: (Default)
Joshua Palmatier

September 2017

S M T W T F S
     12
34567 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 1516
17 18 19 20 212223
24252627282930

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 21st, 2017 04:02 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios