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THE RAZOR’S EDGE, GUILDS & GLAIVES, and SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE URBAR anthology kickstarter has hit its goal! If you have a story idea that fits one of the anthology themes, write it up, revise it, polish it, and send it in for consideration. I've posted the guidelines below.

THE RAZOR’S EDGE, GUILDS & GLAIVES, and SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE URBAR Submission Guidelines

Zombies Need Brains LLC is accepting submissions to its three science fiction and fantasy anthologies THE RAZOR’S EDGE, GUILDS & GLAIVES, and SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE URBAR. Stories must be submitted in electronic form as an attachment with the title of the story as the file name in .doc or .docx format. The header of the email should include the name of the anthology the submission is for along with the title of the submission (for example: WERE-: WereJellyfish Gone Wild!). The content of the email should also include which anthology the manuscript is intended for. Please send multiple manuscripts in separate emails. Manuscripts should be in manuscript format, meaning double-spaced, 12pt font, standard margins on top, bottom and sides, and pages numbered. Please use New Times Roman font. The first page should include the Title of the story, Author’s name, address, and email, and Pseudonym if different from the author’s real name. Italics and bold should be in italics and bold.

Stories for this anthology must be original (no reprints or previously published material), no more than 7,500 words in length, and must satisfy the theme of the anthology.

THE RAZOR’S EDGE is to feature science fiction or fantasy stories that explore the fine line between a rebel and an insurgent. It is a military science fiction and fantasy anthology. We are attempting to fill half of the anthology with science fiction stories, and half with fantasy stories. Stories featuring more interesting settings and twists on the typical themes will receive more attention than those that use standard tropes. In other words, we don’t want to see 100 stories dealing with the general fighting insurgents who joins their cause at the end. If we do, it’s likely that only one, at most, would be selected for the anthology. So be creative, choose something different, and use it in an unusual and unexpected way. We are looking for a range of tones, from humorous all the way up to dark.

GUILDS & GLAIVES is to feature sword & sorcery stories where a guild is featured somewhere in the story. So thieves, assassins, and dark magic, but with a guild or guilds incorporated into the story somehow. Obviously most such stories will be fantasy, but we are interested in science fiction takes on this theme. Stories featuring more interesting takes on the guilds, and twists on how they are integrated into the story, will receive more attention than those with the standard thieves guild or assassins guild. So be creative and use your guild in an unusual and unexpected way. We are looking for a range of tones, from humorous all the way up to dark.

SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE URBAR is to feature stories where the time-traveling Urbar, first used in the anthology AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE URBAR, is a central part of the plot. The story may start in the bar, end in the bar, or be in the bar somewhere in the middle, but at some point a significant plot point must involve the Urbar. Stories featuring more interesting historical settings for the bar, and twists on how the bar is integrated into the story, will receive more attention than those with more standard uses of the bar, or where the bar is only incidental to the rest of the story. So be creative and use bar in an unusual and unexpected way, preferably in an unusual or unexpected era of history. In particular, you cannot use the same time period used in the anthology AFTER HOURS or that will be used by an anchor author of the current anthology (see the end of the post for time periods that are off limits). We are looking for a range of tones, from humorous all the way up to dark.

The deadline for submissions is December 31st, 2017. Decisions on stories should be completed by the end of February 2018. Please send submissions to contact@zombiesneedbrains.com. You will receive a receipt email within a few days of receiving the submission and having it filed for consideration. Notices about decisions on the stories will be sent out no later than the end of March 2018.

If your story is selected for use in the anthology, you should expect a revision letter by the end of April 2018. Revisions and the final draft of the story will be expected no later than the end of May 2018. These dates may change due to the editors’ work schedules. Zombies Need Brains LLC is seeking non-exclusive world anthology rights (including electronic rights) in all languages for the duration of one year after publication/release of the anthology. Your story cannot appear elsewhere during that year. Pay rate will be an advance of a minimum of 6 cents per word for the short stories. For each additional $10,000 raised above the Kickstarter minimum of $20,000, we will increase this advance pay rate by 1 cent per word. The anthology will be published as an ebook and an exclusive mass market paperback edition, distributed to the Kickstarter backers. The book would be available after that to the general public in ebook and trade paperback formats. Advances would be immediately earned out by the success of the Kickstarter. Royalties on additional sales beyond the Kickstarter will be 25% of ebook cover price and 10% of trade paperback cover price, both split evenly (not by word count) between the authors in the anthology and the editors of the anthology.

Questions regarding these submission guidelines should be sent to contact@zombiesneedbrains.com. Thank you.

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The following time periods were used in the AFTER HOURS anthology and are off limits for SECOND ROUND's open call:

“An Alewife In Kish” by Benjamin Tate - Ancient Sumeria, circa 2000 BC

“Why the Vikings Had No Bars” by SC Butler - Viking Daneland, circa 9th century AD (reign of King Harald Fairhair)

“The Emperor’s New God” by Jennifer Dunne - Bar is in Venice, Italy, 1001 AD, story covers 1001-1002 AD

“The Tale That Wagged the Dog” by Barbara Ashford - Scotland, 14th century

“Sake and Other Spirits” by Maria V. Snyder - Feudal Japan, a fishing village near Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture. 15th-16th century.

“The Fortune-Teller Makes Her Will” by Kari Sperring - Paris, 1675-1680 (affaire des poisons time period)

“The Tavern Fire” by DB Jackson - Boston, Mass 1760

“Last Call” by Patricia Bray - Time period spans Georgian/Regency England and Europe, the Ur-Bar is in Switzerland, in 1816

“The Alchemy of Alcohol” by Seanan McGuire -- San Francisco, CA, 1899
“The Grand Tour” by Juliet E McKenna - Austria, 1910

“Paris 24” by Laura Anne Gilman - Paris, France 1924 (Olympics)

“Steady Hands and a Heart of Oak” by Ian Tregillis - London, England, 1940 (Blitz)

“Forbidden” by Avery Shade - New York City, late 1980s

“Where We Are Is Hell” by Jackie Kessler - Present day(ish), location not specified but somewhere U.S., possibly near NYC

“Izdu-Bar” by Anton Strout- Near future, post-zombie apocalypse, somewhere near Albany, NY

The following time periods have been claimed by the anchor authors of SECOND ROUND and are off limits for the open call:

Jacey Bedford (June 30th, 1916, France, Battle of Somme, WWI)
Gini Koch (Old West)
Juliet E. McKenna (Mars, near future)
C.E. Murphy (undetermined)
Kristine Smith (Present day-ish, New York City)
Kari Sperring (Wales, 1400-1415)
Jean Marie Ward (1420s Nanjing, China)
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In this blog, I thought I’d share some of the mistakes that I made when I ran my first Kickstarter for Zombies Need Brains and the anthology CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK VS ALIENS. If you’re thinking of running a Kickstarter, perhaps this will help you make fewer mistakes than I did. Some of these are about designing the Kickstarter, and some of them are mistakes made with producing that first anthology and fulfilling the backer rewards.

The first two of these mistakes—and also the biggest mistakes that I made—are with designing the Kickstarter and they both deal with postage. Yes, postage.

So, you’re planning the Kickstarter, right? And of course you factor in postage into the expenses you’ll have. This affects the amount of money that you need to raise in the Kickstarter into to create the product and send it out to the backers. Of course you do. EXCEPT, in the planning phase, I forgot to factor in one crucial postage expense: that of sending backer extra rewards to ebook backers. What I mean here are the little extras that you promise backers, such as bookmarks if you reach a stretch goal, or magnets, or postcards, or whatever. In my head, I’d said to myself that the ebook backers wouldn’t have any postage expenses, because of course you’d just email the ebooks to them (or send them a link to where they could download them). No expense there, right?

HA, HA! I forgot that if we hit certain goals, even the ebook backers would get these little extra physical incentives, and that these little incentives would require postage to mail them to the backers. So I never factored in this postage. Thankfully, I’d factored in a few hundred dollars for “unexpected expenses” and this covered most of that. The hardest part of this was mailing the incentives outside the US, because international postage is expensive. And of course, most of the ebook backers were international. So this was kind of a punch to the gut. I mitigated it a little bit by asking backers if they wanted the incentives or not, and many did not, so that helped. But still, it hurt in terms of expenses.

For the next Kickstarter, I made certain that I worded the Kickstarter in such a way that it was clear that these physical incentives would only be sent to those who backed at a certain amount or more (basically, reward levels that were receiving a physical mailing already).

My second mistake also had to do with postage, mainly international postage. Yes, I knew it would be more expensive, but I didn’t do enough research to find out exactly HOW MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE it would be. When I went to the post office to mail the international packages, I was physically sick as the postage rang up. It was almost double what I’d planned on. Granted, I was mailing these a year after I’d run the Kickstarter, and postage rates had changed during that time, but it was still MUCH, MUCH higher than I’d anticipated. This, along with the previous postage error, effectively ate up all of my emergency fund built into the Kickstarter, and then some. But of course I mailed everything out. The backers were expecting their rewards, after all.

For the next Kickstarter, I had a much better idea of what the international postage would be and so planned accordingly. I use an average for the international postage now, and that gets added to the pledge level if you’re international. It’s high, and I know it’s high, but there’s not much I can do about that.

The next mistake I made wasn’t really a mistake so much as just horrible luck. One of the reward levels in that Kickstarter was an art print of the cover art for the anthology signed by the artist. I’d negotiated for 25 of these. So I had them printed—not cheap—and mailed them off to Germany, where the artist lived, also not cheap. And then I waited, and waited, and waited. I hadn’t heard anything from the artist and the tracking on the prints just said it had reached Germany, so I contacted the artist and he said he hadn’t received them. I contacted the post office and they said that once it left the US it was out of their hands.

It turns out that the package had reached Germany and then was left in a warehouse or something where it got wet. Art prints don’t react well to water, even though they were wrapped in plastic. So the prints were all ruined. I had to reprint the art—again, not cheap—and mail it again (this time through UPS, still not cheap) and finally got my signed prints. So basically this reward level cost me double what it should have. And of course the post office didn’t take responsibility for what happened because “it was out of their hands”. The insurance I’d gotten for the package only applied to what happened to it in the US, not Germany. So lesson learned.

You’ll note that I don’t offer a reward level for signed art prints for the cover now. I offer prints, just not signed-by-the-artist copies. I still have some of those other art prints left and use them as a reward level in all of my Kickstarters, but now you know one of the reasons they’re so expensive. Still trying to recoup that doubled cost.

My mistakes now shift toward the actual production of the anthology, rather than things associated with running and fulfilling the Kickstarter. At this point, I’d like to point out that I’d been published by DAW and had edited for DAW, so I knew some of what happened behind the scenes in producing a book or anthology, BUT I didn’t know everything, especially some of the finer details. So this first project was a HUGE learning curve. My first mistake was …

TIME. I didn’t understand exactly how much time it took to do all of the little pieces of a project and the order in which those things should be done. So everything took longer than I expected. And a bunch of things had to be done over again, sometimes more than once. For example, I had my cover designer design the cover of the book. Great! That’s checked off my list. BUT THEN I found out that the size of the cover file depends on how many pages are in the book, and I didn’t have that yet, and so when I finally got the page number count, we had to go back and redesign the cover. (Because page count affects the width of the spine, which affects the dimensions of the cover.) Also, I had the ebooks and paperback designed at the same time. But then, if an error was found, we had to go back and redo both the ebooks and the paperbacks. There were many, many different little things that I forgot we needed—such as bar codes and headers and … well, you get the idea. So I made many mistakes here in terms of the order in which things should be done.

Since then, I’ve gotten a better handle on what should be done when, what needs to be done first, etc. I’m still learning though. Now, we design the interior of the Kickstarter paperback first. Then the ebook. Then the cover for the Kickstarter edition. Then we redo the interior design for the trade paperback version, followed by the redo of the cover for the trade paperback. And in all of that process, there are other minor things that have to be done in such and such an order. And all of that takes more time than you think it’s going to take. I still don’t have the timing down yet, because it depends on such things as your interior and ebook designers’ schedule and the printer’s schedule and other things you have no control over. But I’ve gotten much more efficient at this over time.

And the last mistake that I want to talk about is just something stupid that slipped through the system. The page numbers in the Table of Contents of the Kickstarter edition of CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE are all screwed up. Here’s how it happened: the interior of the kickstarter edition was designed and the ToC page numbers were good. But then we decreased the size of the font and the indentations, because the anthology was just way too many pages and its cost to produce would be exorbitant. BUT, we forgot to go back and adjust the page numbers in the ToC to account for the new design. No one checked them before it was sent to the printer. And so the Kickstarter edition has totally screwed up pages in the ToC. Not a huge thing, but extremely annoying for someone like me, who expects perfection from myself. Obviously, we’ve added a ToC page check to the list of things to do at the end, before sending the files to the printer.

At this point, I’ve got the basics of the process worked out and it’s more or less efficient. But I still make mistakes. I screwed up Gini Koch’s pseudonym on the SUBMERGED back cover of the Kickstarter edition. (I called her J.D. Koch on the back cover, instead of J.C. Koch. I got it right everywhere on the inside, just not on the back cover.) I’m sure there are other errors as well, ones that I’ve just not noticed or discovered yet. But overall, I think all of these were learning curve mistakes. I’m getting better at this. Hopefully, I get a chance to keep doing it for years to come. *grin*

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, Walter H Hunt, 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, Kari Sperring, and Jean Marie Ward.

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, Ashley McConnell, 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
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There’s one particular question that I get asked a lot once people find out I created a small press called Zombies Need Brains. Mainly, where the name Zombies Need Brains comes from.

It began in 2007, when the World Fantasy Convention was held in Saratoga Springs, NY. That's basically a few hours drive from where I live. At the time, Patricia Bray was also living in Binghamton and I had just been published by DAW Books. (THE SKEWED THRONE came out in hardcover in January 2006 and THE CRACKED THRONE followed in November 2006.) I was, of course, looking for ways to promote the books and so with WFC so close, Patricia and I came up with a plan to throw a party on Thursday night at the con. We invited S.C. Butler, Barbara Campbell, C.E. Murphy, and Jennifer Dunne to join us (mostly so we could split the costs and make it affordable for all of the authors involved). We planned out the alcohol, the snacks, getting a room at the convention, getting invites printed up to hand out at the con, etc., etc., etc.

But we needed a name for the party.

We ended up calling the party Zombies Need Brains. I believe it was Jennifer Dunne's idea, actually. We handed out postcard invites to the party at the ice cream social Thursday night. We gave everyone tickets when they entered and handed out prizes all night. The room was jammed and at one point George R.R. Martin came in and settled down in the middle of the main room and pretty much stayed there all night. I believe we kicked the last people out around 3am and then did massive clean-up. We donated leftover alcohol and food to parties that were going on the next night. It was a blast and, I have to say, the best party of the weekend.

Anyway, flash forward five years. I'm contemplating creating a small press so that I can continue my addiction and produce themed anthologies at will. But what do I call the small press? I wanted something that was obviously SF&F oriented, but at the same time I wanted it to be fun. Not that we couldn't produce thought-provoking anthologies, but, really, I just wanted to have fun with the press and the themes and stories.

And then it hit me: Zombies Need Brains. It was perfect--obviously SF&F related, but still with the quirky sense of fun I wanted the press to be known for.

So that's where the ZNB name comes from. As you probably guessed, it involved a party and some alcohol. *grin*

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, Walter H Hunt, 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, Kari Sperring, and Jean Marie Ward.

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, Ashley McConnell, 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 tenth 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 9: Design: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/492092.html
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

At this point, you should have everything you need to send your book out into the world—a cover flat file, an interior print file, an ebook file, and a cover file (either taken from the cover flat, or designed specifically by your cover designer for the ebooks). All that’s left is the distribution.

There are many different options and outlets for distribution. Some of them allow you to distribute to many places through one portal, such as IngramSpark. Some of them let you distribute to selected places through one portal, such as CreateSpace. Most who have multiple outlets let you pick and choose where you want the anthology to be available. And then, of course, you can choose to go directly through particular places with your own account at each one, such as Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, etc. Lastly, perhaps you just want to get a set number of copies of the book printed by an offset printer and then store them and sell them yourself, either by hand or through an online store.

There are advantages and disadvantages to every option, so you really need to sit down and do the research for each one, perhaps create a spreadsheet so you can compare them all, and then you can focus on what you want for your books. Each place will have a different royalty rate, perhaps even two options for royalties at one location. For example, CreateSpace has multiple royalty options, where you trade a lower royalty rate in order to get better advertising or a larger distribution network. If you’re going to do your own advertising, then you can pick a higher royalty rate. Each usually has other options that may get your book in their newsletter, or allow your book to have a fire-sale at a low rate for a specified period of time, or allow you to make the price of your book whatever you want. (Kindle requires that your book be within a certain price range, for example, unless you give up some royalties to make it lower). All of these options at the various places are changing constantly, so you need to look into it yourself.

As you can see, it’s already gotten complicated. But the real issue is how much of the marketing for your book you’re going to do yourself, and how much you want your distributor to market it for you. How much marketing you want someone else to do depends on how wide an audience you think you can reach with your book and name alone. Someone like Seanan McGuire has a large fan base already, so she probably doesn’t need the marketing machine to get her fans to notice a book she puts out herself. My own fan base isn’t quite that large, so I may want to invest in a smaller royalty rate from the distributor in order for the distributor to help me reach people I wouldn’t be able to reach myself. It’s all a balancing act—how much of the royalties are you willing to give up in order to sell more copies of the book? Keeping all the royalties means you may sell X books, making $Y amount of money. But maybe if you give up some of the royalties you’ll sell A books (A>X), and make $B amount of money. Is B higher than Y? In some situations it will be, which means accepting a lower royalty actually increases the money you make. The REAL problem is that there’s no way to tell whether B will be higher than Y ahead of time. Absolutely no way. Because no one can predict marketing. Advertising your brains out doesn’t guarantee that you’ll make more sales. This is the most frustrating part of the business: you will never know how effective your marketing is. Even if you sell really well, you can’t pinpoint what it was that you did that made the book sell well. It just did. For some reason. None of it quantifiable.

In any case, you need to choose: distribute yourself (offset printing, ebook sales online), distribute through one agency that distribute to multiple places (IngramSpark, CreateSpace, etc.), or distribute by setting up your own account at multiple places (Kindle, Nook, B&N, CreateSpace, etc.). Distributing the books yourself means all of the work is put on your—for marketing and sales—but you’re probably going to get a much larger cut of the profits. Distributing through someone like IngramSpark, CreateSpace, etc.) allows you a wider audience reach immediately, but they’re going to take a larger cut of the profits, especially if you select the option where they do more marketing for you. But you’re getting a single check each month from one source. The last option, where you set up accounts at multiple places, usually gives you a higher cut of the profits (not as high as distributing yourself, though), but now you’re dealing with multiple checks every month from multiple sources, so it’s a little more complicated to keep track of the finances for tax purposes and such.

Zombies Need Brains does a mix of two of the options. It has accounts set up at various places so that it gets a check directly from those distributors, such as Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc. The rest of the ebook options are handled by a single distributor, where I can select which places get to sell the ebook and which don’t. And the print versions are run through CreateSpace with a fairly wide distribution network, but not as wide as it could be. I was trying to balance the marketing a distribution options, while mitigating the amount of work I’d have to do in terms of bookkeeping.

And that’s how ZNB produces their anthologies. I didn’t cover absolutely everything. There are a few other things I could have talked about—such as advertising, marketing, etc.—but this gives everyone who might be interested in producing an anthology at least a rough framework for how it’s done. Again, you may need to alter and change and personalize this so that it works best for you. I hope you’ve learned something from this blog series! Thanks for reading!

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)
A few year ago, I ran a couple of projects designed to help writers with some of the basic essentials of trying to get a novel published, things like query letters and plot synopses. Since then, my blog has changed and those links to those bits of writerly advice from various published authors have been lost. So I thought I'd run another set of projects to refresh those links AND to bring in new thoughts from today's authors. So for three days, I'll be running three projects, one on elevator pitches, one on query letters, and one on plot synopses. This is the central hub for all of the posts on:

Plot Synopses:

Here are some thoughts on how to write plot synopses from various authors. Not everyone does this the same way, so I'd suggest reading through the posts, think about the advice, and then decide which approach works best for you. Maybe try a few of them to find out. This is not the first time I've done a plot synopsis project, so some of these posts are new and some are from the previous run-through. Also, I'll add to this list if more authors want to participate in the future, so check back every now and then and see if there's a new post on the list. I hope some of you find these projects helpful!

Here are the links:

Chaz Brenchley: http://desperance.livejournal.com/254192.html (Originally posted 3/17/2008)
S.C. Butler: http://scbutler.livejournal.com/23177.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
David B. Coe: http://davidbcoe.livejournal.com/29443.html (Originally popsted 3/18/2008)
Harry Connolly: http://harryjconnolly.com/how-i-write-a-book-synopsis/ (Added 9/21/2017)
Jennifer Dunne: http://jennifer-dunne.livejournal.com/244403.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
S.L. Farrell/Stephen Leigh: http://sleigh.livejournal.com/187253.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Gregory Frost: http://frostokovich.livejournal.com/19384.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Jim C. Hines: http://jimhines.livejournal.com/355241.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Elaine Isaac/E.C. Ambrose: https://ecambrose.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/pitching-a-novel-nailing-your-synopsis/ (Added 9/21/2017)
Kay Kenyon: http://www.kaykenyon.com/2017/09/21/writing-a-novel-synopsis/ (Added 9/21/2017)
Jackie Kessler: http://www.jackiekessler.com/blog/2008/03/18/the-plot-synopsis-project/#more-178 (Originally posted 3/8/2008)
Mindy Klasky: http://mindyklasky.livejournal.com/135970.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Misty Massey: http://madkestrel.livejournal.com/64716.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Kelly McCullough: https://kellymccullough.com/synopses-a-lengthy-discourse-on-a-pithy-topic/ (Added 9/23/2017)
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.: http://www.lemodesittjr.com/2017/09/18/literary-pitches-and-timing/ (Added 9/21/2017)
C.E. Murphy: http://mizkit.livejournal.com/339428.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Naomi Novik: http://naominovik.livejournal.com/34610.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Joshua Palmatier: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/493561.html (Added 9/21/2017)
Phyllis Irene Radford: http://www.radfordeditorial.com/?p=104 (Added 9/23/2017)
Jennifer Stevenson: http://smokingpigeon.livejournal.com/15208.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Michelle Sagara West: http://msagara.livejournal.com/37498.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)


And check out the Elevator Pitch Project here: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/492684.html, and the Query Project here: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/493069.html.

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)
Plot Synopses

First off, there are two types of plot synopses: the one written AFTER the novel is finished, and the one written BEFORE the novel is finished, both used to send to the agent or editor in the hopes they’ll buy the novel. I’ll start with the one written AFTER the novel is finished, since this is typically what happens for a writer who has yet to be published.

Writing a Synopsis AFTER the Book is Finished )

In any case, here’s my sample plot synopsis, for the first book in my Throne of Amenkor series, published by DAW Books, called The Skewed Throne [Amazon; Mysterious Galaxy]. Keep in mind that if you haven’t read the book, this synopsis will reveal all of the major plot twists and turning points in the novel, so spoilerage is possible. Well, not possible. Spoilerage is DEFINITE. I think you’d still find the book enjoyable even after reading this though. In fact, it might be an interesting exercise to read both the synopsis and the book itself so you can compare them and see what I put in the synopsis and, more importantly, what I left out. You certainly can't put everything in the book in the synopsis.

After the sample, I discuss writing a plot synopsis BEFORE the book has been written.

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

Skewed Throne Plot Synopsis (spoilery if you haven’t read the book) )

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

Ok, that’s what the beast looks like if the book has already been written. However, once you’ve been published, the agent or editor is more willing to work with a book that hasn’t been written yet. At this stage, they’ll likely demand a plot synopsis, and sometimes they’ll want a plot synopsis and the first few chapters (even if the rest hasn’t been written). I find this a much MUCH harder beast to tame, because of the way that I write.

Writing a Synopsis BEFORE the Book is Written )

So here’s my sample of a synopsis written BEFORE the novel was written. It's from the second book in the Throne of Amenkor series, called The Cracked Throne [Amazon; Mysterious Galaxy]. Again, if you read this, it WILL spoiler the book. (But also again, it might be good to read the synopsis AND the book so you can see what was included and not included . . . and also what I thought would happen and what actually happened.) You’ll notice some differences. I didn’t capitalize the characters names when they first appeared in this one, for example. Some editors/agents like them to be capped, some not. You should always read and follow the guidelines for the publishing house or agency where you’re submitting in order to see what kinds of rules they like you to follow. You’ll also notice that the synopsis doesn’t read as smoothly as the previous one; that’s because the novel wasn’t written and I was flailing around in the dark while writing it. And for those that have read the book already, you’ll notice that the final version of the book had some serious changes (the part about Erick and Baill leaps to mind). The end product didn’t follow this synopsis exactly. Editors and agents know this might happen, and they generally accept it.

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

Cracked Throne Plot Synopsis (spoilerage ahoy!) )

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

So that’s my take on writing plot synopses and a few examples to give you guys something to work from. Hopefully you found some helpful advice in there. But my way isn’t always the best, and doesn’t always work for everyone, so take the time to read some of the other authors’ posts about their process and see some of their examples. I think what you’ll find is that there isn’t one set way to do these things, and there’s not one set road to publication. Some include synopses and some don’t. Some synopses are 1 page long (if that) and some are 10 or more. It depends on the editor’s and/or agent’s preferences.

And keep in mind that you can have the perfect synopsis but if the STORY ITSELF SUCKS, it won’t help. You have to have a good story to tell. And if the story is good, most editors and agents will cut you some slack if your plot synopsis isn’t perfect.

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)
A few year ago, I ran a couple of projects designed to help writers with some of the basic essentials of trying to get a novel published, things like query letters and plot synopses. Since then, my blog has changed and those links to those bits of writerly advice from various published authors have been lost. So I thought I'd run another set of projects to refresh those links AND to bring in new thoughts from today's authors. So for three days, I'll be running three projects, one on elevator pitches, one on query letters, and one on plot synopses. This is the central hub for all of the posts on:

Queries:

Here are some thoughts on how to write queries from various authors. Not everyone does this the same way, so I'd suggest reading through the posts, think about the advice, and then decide which approach works best for you. Maybe try a few of them to find out. This is not the first time I've done a query project, so some of these posts are new and some are from the previous run-through. Also, I'll add to this list if more authors want to participate in the future, so check back every now and then and see if there's a new post on the list. I hope some of you find these projects helpful!

Here are the links:

Harry Connolly: http://harryjconnolly.com/i-should-have-done-this-a-while-ago/ (Added 9/20/2017)
Chris Dolley: http://chrisdolley.livejournal.com/97929.html (Originally posted 9/12/2008)
Simon Haynes: http://halspacejock.blogspot.com/2008/09/query-project.html (Originally posted 9/12/2008)
Elaine Isaac/E.C. Ambrose: https://ecambrose.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/the-query-quandary-pitching-your-novel/ (Added 9/20/2017)
Jackie Kessler: http://www.jackiekessler.com/blog/2008/09/12/the-query-project/ (Originally posted 9/12/2008)
Glenda Larke: http://glendalarke.blogspot.com/2008/09/on-writing-query-letter.html (Originally posted 9/12/2008)
John Levitt: http://johnlevitt.livejournal.com/9407.html (Originally posted 9/12/2008)
Kelly McCullough: https://kellymccullough.com/queriesor-i-may-be-talking-through-my-hat/ (Added 9/23/2017)
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.: http://www.lemodesittjr.com/2017/09/18/literary-pitches-and-timing/ (Added 9/20/2017)
Joshua Palmatier: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/492803.html (Added 9/20/2017)
Phyllis Irene Radford: http://www.radfordeditorial.com/?p=99 (Added 9/21/2017)
Janni Lee Simner: http://janni.livejournal.com/499198.html (Originally posted 9/12/2008)
Jennifer Stevenson: http://smokingpigeon.livejournal.com/30055.html (Originally posted 9/12/2008)
David J. Williams: http://autumnrain2110.com/blog/2008/09/12/query-letter-time/ (Originally posted 9/12/2008)

And check out the Elevator Pitch Project here: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/492684.html, and the Plot Synopsis Project here: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/493782.html.

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)
Queries

The query is horribly important for writing purposes, especially for new writers, because it's the door to the editor's and/or agent's office. Basically, the query is a cover letter for your manuscript. In the query, you want to include information about yourself, your book, and what you have to offer. It's an attempt to get the editor and/or agent interested enough in you and your work so that they either request to see a partial of the manuscript if they requested a query only, or to get them to turn the page and start reading the partial that was included in the mailing. It's the first impression that the editor and/or agent will get of you, and because of that, it has to look sharp, speak clearly, and be perfect. Which is alot of pressure on you as the writer.

But before I go any further into discussing them, let me say that I'm not purporting to be an expert on queries. I'm only going to report what I did and/or learned in my process to getting published and what I think the query should be and do. I also want to say that, in general, I DO NOT think that agents and editors read the query and skip reading some of the partial (if it's included) "almost all of the time". I think they only skip reading a portion of the partial if it's obvious from the query that the book just does not fit what they represent or sell. If the editor publishes mysteries, and you sent them a romance, then yes, they'll read the query, determine it's a romance, and not even look at the partial. There's no point (unless there's a significantly good dose of mystery in the story, and if that wasn't mentioned in the query, then you screwed up the query). However, from what I've seen and heard by dealing with agents and editors as a writer, they almost always read a little bit of the partial. It may not be much, but it's enough for them to determine if they'll be interested in your story and whether you can write, regardless of what's in the query.

OK, I'm sure I'll get some flak from people over that last paragraph, but let's move on.

Queries. The main point is the query should be one page, short, and to the point. Don't waste time here, because you want them to move from the query to the partial (or the request for the partial) as soon as possible. There are three paragraphs to a query, maybe four. And in all three paragraphs you have to be completely and totally honest about yourself and your book, and you have to be completely and totally upfront about what you want and where the book currently is. Always. And lastly, you must be completely and totally professional at all times. Remember, this is your first impression and you only get one first impression. It's like a date. You DON'T want to screw it up or you'll never get laid.

I'm going to write this as if you were sending it to an editor, but the same advice applies to agents as well.

Incidentals: Before we hit the three paragraphs, you must make certain you have all of the incidental letter material absolutely correct. This means the address for yourself, the address for where you're sending it, and above all the name of the person you're sending it to! This person should be the actual editor at the publisher where you want to be published, it should be spelled correctly, and it must be current. Double check to see that the editor or agent is still working there. Editors and agents shift positions all the time. If the move was fairly recent and hasn't been circulated much yet, and you put the wrong editor on the query, it's not a problem. Don't stress about it, the query will find the right person. But if the editor you sent it to left their position six months ago and you send it to them instead of their replacement . . . that doesn't look good. It's not professional. It's not a deal breaker by any means, but take the time to do the research and find the appropriate editor. And for heaven's sake, if you don't know if it should be Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Dr., then leave the honorific off. Just say Jane Doe. You certainly don't want to say Mrs. Jane Doe and then find out later that it was really Mr.

First paragraph: Ok, so you've double checked the editor's name, triple checked their address, and made certain you put your own address on the envelope correctly. The incidentals are done. In the first paragraph you should tell them exactly what it is you have to offer and what you're looking for. Something along the lines of:

"I am seeking a publisher for my 100,000 word contemporary fantasy novel entitled Fever."

You should take one sentence, maybe two, to tell them why you are sending this novel to THEM. Make it personal if you can. If you met them at a conference or convention and chatted with them briefly at the bar, mention that here. If they gave you their card and said send them something, mention that here. In fact, if you've had personal contact with them, mention that first, saying something like, "I had a great time chatting with you at the bar at Confluence last month. I hope your dog Sparky is doing better after his surgery." You can get a little personal depending on what you spoke about at the bar, but keep it short and move on to the main point as soon as possible, which is of course that you have a 100,000 word contemporary fantasy novel to sell. Include what is enclosed with the query, if anything, such as a partial, or the plot sysnopsis, etc. This is important however: Only include what they request in their guidelines, or what they have requested from you in person. In the end, this paragraph shouldn't be more than 5 sentences long.

Second Paragraph: This is where you describe your entire novel in no more than 5 sentences. Which is hard. It's got to be punchy, pithy, and get across your main character, your basic plot, and whatever it is about your book that makes it unique and/or different from all of the other books out there. I suck at these kinds of paragraphs. Most writers do, because it took 100,000 words to get the story down on paper, not 5 sentences. If we could have done it in 5 sentences, we wouldn't have wasted the 100,000 words. What it takes is a huge butcher's knife and a little fortitude. You have to be willing to cut out almost everything about the novel except the character's transformation, how the plot forces that transformation, and what makes the book unique. Remember, you aren't trying to explain the entire plot or book here, that's what the plot synopsis is for. What you're trying to do here is pique the editor's interest so that they think, "This sounds cool," and they either request the partial, or turn to the partial immediately. Here’s the one I used for my novel Fever:

"Set mainly in north central Pennsylvania in 1965, Fever is the story of Dr. Avery Mills, a young doctor whose life takes a sudden wrong turn when he nearly kills a patient. Dumped by his girlfriend, he seeks to escape his life and takes a job in the small town of Coudersport. But Coudersport holds a secret: a fever that gives those infected the ability to channel fire with their minds. Mills must uncover the darkness beneath the town’s idyllic surface, and in the process face his own past and discover his own strengths."

That gives you the idea anyway. Short, but with as much information as you can pack into it. Keep it focused on the main character and his or her change or "problem". Don't stray from the main plot with subplots or anything like that, keep those for the plot synopsis. And bring into it what makes the story unique (the pyrokinesis here, I think).

Third Paragraph: The last paragraph is where you should include any information the editor needs to know about you, such as credentials, and where your novel currently stands. If your book is about biological fantasy creatures, you should include the fact that you're a biologist. If you've sold 3 books already, include that. Won a prize for writing, had short stories published, anything that would be a cred and give you more standing should be mentioned here. Also, and this applies more for a query to an agent, if your book is being looked at by a publisher already, you should mention that, something like, "Fever is currently being considered by an editor at DAW," or whatever. In essence, let them know where the book stands at the moment, if there's a solid lead or nibble in a certain direction. If you don't have any publishing creds yet, that's fine. Just mention something personal about yourself. For my first fantasy novel, I had no creds, so I just said I was a graduate student at Binghamton University, working on a PhD in mathematics. Nothing whatsoever to do with the book or publishing or even fantasy, but it was a little personal touch, so I seemed more real to the editor, not just a piece of paper in the mail.

Ending: After this, you should have a short, short paragraph thanking them for their time, that you look forward to hearing from them soon, that an SASE is included (if so), etc. Sign it off in some way, such as "sincerely" or whatever. I wouldn't use "love" unless you really know them that well, in which case you probably don't need a query at all.

And that's that. Sounds complicated, but the worst part is the novel summary paragraph, and you can get lots of help from friends and others in workshops and on LJ and whatnot in getting that written. So here's the sample of a cover letter I may have sent out based on what I've said here, if I were looking for a new publisher at this moment. Keep in mind that this still needs some spit and polish, and that pieces of it will vary depending on your situation and how well you know the editor/agent. I've faked the addresses and names and whatnot, but the description of the book is real, from a book I actually wrote, called Fever, that has not yet been published. Check the comments out as well, since others may chime in and bring up some good points that I forgot to mention or just didn't think about regarding queries. And of course you can ask any questions you might have as well.

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

Sample:

Joshua Palmatier
213 Gigawatt St
Coudersport, PA 00000

August 17, 2007



Bigwig Publishing
317 Whatsit Ave
New York, NY 00000

Ira Greenwaltsonphindermacher:

It was great meeting you at BlipCon last month and I enjoyed the panel on nanotechnology in fantasy. As per your request after our discussion after the panel, I'm sending you the partial and a plot synopsis of my 100,000 word contemporary fantasy novel entitled Fever.

Set mainly in north central Pennsylvania in 1965, Fever is the story of Dr. Avery Mills, a young doctor whose life takes a sudden wrong turn when he nearly kills a patient. Dumped by his girlfriend, he seeks to escape his life and takes a job in the small town of Coudersport. But Coudersport holds a secret: a fever that gives those infected the ability to channel fire with their minds. Mills must uncover the darkness beneath the town’s idyllic surface, and in the process face his own past and discover his own strengths.

I have three fantasy novels currently being published by DAW Books, and was a finalist for the Compton Crook award for best first novel in 2006. I'm currently working as an assistant professor at SUNY College at Oneonta.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,



Joshua Palmatier

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


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)
A few year ago, I ran a couple of projects designed to help writers with some of the basic essentials of trying to get a novel published, things like query letters and plot synopses. Since then, my blog had changed and those links to those bits of writerly advice from various published authors have been lost. So I thought I'd run another set of projects to refresh those links AND to bring in new thoughts from today's authors. So for the next three days, I'll be running three projects, one on elevator pitches, one on query letters, and one on plot synopses. This is the central hub for all of the posts on:

Elevator Pitches:

Here are some thoughts on how to write elevator pitches from various authors. Not everyone does this the same way, so I'd suggest reading through the posts, think about the advice, and then decide which approach works best for you. Maybe try a few of them to find out. This is the first time I've done a elevator pitch project, so all of these posts are new. Also, I'll add to this list if more authors want to participate in the future, so check back every now and then and see if there's a new post on the list. I hope some of you find these projects helpful!

Here are the links:

Harry Connolly: http://harryjconnolly.com/for-gods-sake-dont-talk-in-the-elevator-the-social-media-pitch/ (Added 9/19/2017)
Elaine Isaak/E.C. Ambrose: https://ecambrose.wordpress.com/2017/09/19/crafting-your-pitch-elevator-style/ (Added 9/19/2017)
Kay Kenyon: http://www.kaykenyon.com/2017/09/19/pitching-a-novel/ (Added 9/19/2017)
Kelly McCullough: https://kellymccullough.com/the-elevator-pitch-my-take/ (Added 9/23/2017)
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.: http://www.lemodesittjr.com/2017/09/18/literary-pitches-and-timing/ (Added 9/19/2017)
Joshua Palmatier: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/492441.html (Added 9/19/2017)
Phyllis Irene Radford: http://www.radfordeditorial.com/?p=94 (Added 9/19/2017)

The Query Project is here: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/493069.html. The Plot Synopsis Project is here: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/493782.html.

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)
For other advice on elevator pitches, check out the Elevator Pitch Project: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/492684.html

An elevator pitch is something you need if you plan on attending conventions or writing conferences or if you go any place where you may potentially run into an editor or agent or even a fellow writer who might be interested in what it is you’re writing. If you happen to end up chatting with someone like this, they may ask you to describe your book. The elevator pitch is a short, quick statement—no more than a sentence or two—that is intended to hook the editor/agent/writer into asking you more. You need to snag their interest. Fast. It’s called an elevator pitch because, if you happen to run into this person in an elevator (which happens more often than you’d think), you need to be able to get it out before the elevator door opens and your prey escapes.

So, how do you summarize your whole book in just a few sentences? You don’t. That’s not the point here. The point is to give the editor/agent/writer a piece of your book that makes them want more. So you should focus your elevator pitch on whatever it is about your book that makes it cool, what makes it different from all of the other books out there on the shelf, what will make a reader pick it up and flip to that first page and start reading. That’s essentially what you want the editor/agent/writer to do: ask for more. If they do ask for more, then you can expand on what you’ve started and go into more details. How many details depends on the setting. (Are you chatting at the bar with drinks in hand? On a bus ride to the airport? In that elevator?) But if you can’t get them to be interested in enough in a few sentences to continue the conversation, then you’re dead in the water.

So, if you think the magic in your world is unique and interesting and never-been-done-before, then you should focus your pitch around the magic. Something like: “In the world of Evernon, the price for using magic is not pain or energy, it’s the loss of your senses—smell, touch, even sight. The mage Terell has nearly exhausted all of his senses when his arch-nemesis abducts his only daughter. Blind and deaf, does he have enough left to free Averie from Gondor’s clutches?”

If you think the world itself is cool, then focus on the world: “The luxury starship Excalibur has crash landed on an asteroid in the middle of a deadly nebula. The survivors’ only hope is to traverse the ionic storms, plasma geysers, and shifting rock of the asteroid’s surface and reach the abandoned relay station before the nebula tears the asteroid apart!”

I think you’re getting the idea. Focus the pitch on what stands out about your book, whether it’s the world, the magic, the characters, whatever. But as you can see, you can’t rely on just the “cool” aspect of the book. You should give at least a hint of the plot, the motivation of the characters. A glimpse of the overall conflict gives the editor/agent/writer the knowledge that there’s more going on here than just a cool concept. I’ve read many short stories as an editor where there was a cool concept but not story. You can’t sell a story or novel on concept alone. There has to be a conflict and human characters behind it to call it a story. The pitch needs to show that there is, even if no real details are given. Again, once you’ve snagged the editor/agent/writer’s attention, then you can go into the details.

So sit back and think about your characters, your world, your magic or science and ask yourself what it is about your novel that will make it stand out. The hone your pitch down to just that, with a hint of the conflict the novel is centered around.

But once you’ve done that, you aren’t done. Having a pitch is great; being able to deliver it is even better. You need to practice your pitch so that it rolls off your tongue smoothly, so that it fits into casual conversation. When the editor/agent/writer asks what your book is about, you don’t want to stop and stammer or say, “Hold on a second,” while you pull out a piece of paper with the pitch written on it. You should start right into it, “THE QUEEN’S WRATH is about …” A casual presentation will increase the chances that the editor/agent/writer will want to talk further, because it says that you’re so familiar with your work and world and characters that they’re like old friends.

This post makes it sound easy to come up with a good elevator pitch. It’s not. You don’t want to be doing this on the fly, so spend some time thinking about your work and practicing the pitch. It will pay off in the end. Good luck!


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 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
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I'm happy to announce that Walter H. Hunt's story "Radio Silence" in the Zombies Need Brains anthology ALIEN ARTIFACTS is a finalist for the WSFA Small Press Award! Congrats, Walter! And congrats to all of the other finalists. The award winner will be announced at Capclave and Zombies Need Brains will be there with a table in the dealer's room! Fingers crossed for Walter! Here's the official press release from WSFA with all of the other nominees:

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The WSFA Small Press Award Committee Announces Finalists for 2017 Award 
for stories published in 2016.

The Washington Science Fiction Association (WSFA) is pleased to announce the
finalists for the 2017 WSFA Small Press Award:

“Foxfire, Foxfire,” by Yoon Ha Lee, published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, ed. by Scott H. Andrews, (March 2016);

"Jupiter or Bust," by Brad R. Torgersen, published in Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, ed. by Scott Roberts,  (March/ April 2016);

"The Mytilenian Delay," by Neil James Hudson, in Hyperpowers, ed. by Bascombe James, published by Third Flatiron Publishing (May 2016);

"Only Their Shining Beauty Was Left," by Fran Wilde, published in Shimmer Magazine, ed. by E. Catherine Tobler, (September 2016);

"Radio Silence," by Walter H. Hunt in Alien Artifacts, ed. by Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray, published by Zombies Need Brains, (2016);

"A Salvaging of Ghosts," by Aliette de Bodard, published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, ed. by Scott H. Andrews, (March 2016);

"The Tomato Thief," by Ursula Vernon, published in Apex Magazine, ed. by Jason Sizemore, (January 2016);

"Vengence Sewn With A Fey Cord," by Christine Lucas, published in The Future Fire, ed. by Djibril al-Ayad, (April 2016);

"The Witch's Knives," by Margaret Ronald, published in Strange Horizons, ed. by Niall Harrison, Jane Crowley, Kate Dollarhyde, Lila Garrott, Catherine Krahe, An Owomoyela, and Vajra Chandrasekera, (October 2016).

The award honors the efforts of small press publishers in providing a critical venue for short fiction in the area of speculative fiction.  The award showcases the best original short fiction published by small  presses in the previous year (2016). An unusual feature of the selection  process is that all voting is done with the identity of the author (and publisher) hidden so that the final choice is based solely on the quality of the story.

The winner is chosen by the members of the Washington Science Fiction
Association (www.wsfa.org) and will be presented at their annual
convention, Capclave (www.capclave.org), held this year on October 6-8, 2017 in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

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