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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:
Part 7: Copy Edits:
Part 6: Table of Contents:
Part 5: Editing:
Part 4: Slush Pile:
Part 3: Funding:
Part 2: Authors:
Part 1: Concept:

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

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

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

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

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

"Portals" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios


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Joshua Palmatier

March 2019

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