We Make Books is hosted by Rekka Jay and Kaelyn Considine; Rekka is a published author and Kaelyn is an editor and together they are going to take you through what goes into getting a book out of your head, on to paper, in to the hands of a publisher, and finally on to book store shelves.
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Transcript (All Mistakes are Fully Rekka's Fault)
Welcome back to another episode of We Make Books, a podcast about writing, publishing, and everything in between. I'm Rekka. I write science fiction and fantasy as R J Theodore.
And I'm Kaelyn Considine. I am the acquisitions editor for Parvus Press. And, uh, this is Anthologies, part two.
Part two, because Kaelyn was like, "Hey, you left me out. I am not gonna forgive you for this. We're going to talk about this until I have gotten to say everything I want to say about it."
I was unfairly confined somewhere and, uh, I, I missed, uh, I missed the interview last week, obviously, but, um, you know, I, I, we wanted to talk more, a little bit more about anthologies, you know, obviously, um, Rekka's interview with Julia was fantastic. A lot of great insight and information in there. Um, but that was very, you know, from the publishing side of things. So then there's the people that actually contribute to the anthologies, the writers. That's, that's a whole other kettle of fish. So we just, you know, we wanted to do another part where we talked a little bit about the other side of this.
Kaelyn's interest is a kind of pre-submission I would say, right?
Although you have worked on an anthology, so your interest has also been post submission.
I have, uh, I have worked on an anthology. We talk a little bit about that in this episode. Um, anthology is our, you know, as the last week's episode went into great detail about very different from a novel, you know, I think we think like, Oh, whatever, it's a book. So you've got a whole bunch of authors instead of just one.
A WHOLE bunch of authors.
Yeah. A flock, if you will.
A slack of authors?
A slack of authors. Um, so you know, like, what's the difference? Why is, why is it a big deal? Anthologies are very different and they're, um, you know, even if they work out to about the same number of words and pages as a novel, I would say it's two to three times the amount of work.
At least. The process of editing is basically multiplied by however many authors you have on the book, because you've got to do all the direct contact things with each of them. And even though the story may only be a few thousand words, there is an entire process that has to happen for each submission.
So, so that's fun. So that was Kaelyn's favorite part of working on an apology. I'm sure.
Doing this all simultaneously with however many authors.
Yeah, yeah. It's um, it's, you know, it's different and there are certain things as a writer, if you're preparing or interested in submitting to an anthology that you should be aware of, um, you know, going into it. So, you know, that's what we wanted to take some time to talk about today. And, uh, that's what we did.
This is the bandaid that Kaelyn is slapping over my, my poor attempt to lead the podcast without her.
Oh no, don't be ridiculous. You did a fantastic job. Like it's to the point that I was like, I'm listening to it. I'm like, "God, I'm so mad. I missed this conversation. They had so much fun. It was awesome." So, um, but you know, we'll, we'll do something again sometime, maybe with Julia.
We can always talk to them about the experience of putting out 12 issues of a single themed anthology. Because Kickstarter funded the hell out of itself and it's happening. I knew it, I knew it was going to happen and I'm happy to say it did. So, um, look forward to mermaids all 2021.
Yeah. And maybe, you know, in a few months we'll check in with whatever is left of Julia and see how they're doing.
Yes, exactly. All right. So, um, after the music comes our conversation. Um, Kaelyn's getting the last word in on anthologies.
You know what I just realized Rekka, have we mentioned your new puppy on the podcast yet?
No, we have not. Because we skipped, uh, we skipped an episode and before that, like she was so new that she couldn't be out here while I was recording. Not that she's out here now, but she probably could be out here. She would just be bouncing a ball in the background. And you'd hear her nails skittering on the floor.
Aww. Yeah, Rekka I got a new puppy. Her name's Evie and she's freaking adorable. Yeah.
Speaker 3 (00:04:15):
She's so good. She's really smart. It's like, she's gonna probably get us in trouble someday.
Aw, well, anyway, she's adorable. And although she is uh slightly bitey, but you know.
Speaker 3 (00:04:27):
Little nippy. She's got these, um, her baby canine is still like stuck in there and the adult canine is coming in around it. And I can't imagine how, how much that bothers her right now, you know?
Aww, poor thing.
So I have sympathy for her and I look forward to the day that it's done. I keep checking her mouth every morning, going, you still have that tooth. Damn it, you still have that tooth!
Now, if it falls out, does the tooth fairy come to Evie?
Uh, so far, no, we've we found like four or five of the teeth. And, um, we have not given her anything special except you know, like some congratulations.
Some belly rubs.
Oh yeah. She gets those. She gets those for no reason. She, um, she's not like food motivated. I'm sure she could be. But when we got her, she had no expectation of treats or anything like that. So we were like, All right, cool, we're not encouraging that then.
Okay. Um, I'm very treat incentive-based as well.
I'm coffee motivated.
Um, I get myself through my day by saying, "okay, if you do all of these things, then you remember that cookie, you were saving? You can go have that cookie."
Oh, well that presupposes you save the cookie.
I am good at that.
I am not good at that. So that is why I am not treat motivated because there are none. I already ate them.
I, um, I am one of those people that like, will, you know, somebody will get me like a nice box of chocolates or something. And like, I won't open them forever. I'll like save them and save them. And then it's kind of like, "okay, I need to eat these now because they're getting to the point that I'm going to need to eat them or get rid of them." Um, but you know, I, I'm very, I'm very treat motivated. Um, anyway, so Rekka I'm back this week.
Yeah. Where the heck were you? You just abandoned me.
I was in the hospital. It was not fun. It was, um, it was a weird experience, which I don't need to tell you about. Um, but yeah, I, I missed the conversation about anthologies last week, which you know, I was very disappointed. I was looking forward to it. So I told Rekka, well, we're going to ha I get to have an anthology conversation too. So I'm going to, we're going to do the whole thing all over again.
Speaker 3 (00:06:45):
We're just going to pretend that Julia's answers are, you know, falling in and we're just going to record it so that Katelyn feels included. Right? I mean, that's, that's basically, cause I nailed it, right. Like as the standalone, like left in charge of the house. Okay.
No, you absolutely nailed it, but that doesn't matter because this is all about me. No. Um, we, uh—
No, but what it is all about though, is that Mermaids Monthly funded. So.
Mermaids Monthly did fund!
As we record it just funded overnight and we are incredibly happy to see that. So I'm looking forward to that. And I think it's telling that I had a sudden idea for a story to submit to it last night as I was getting ready for bed, that must've been the moment it funded. Cause I was just like, it just came to me.
The universe, just snapped it into your head and was like, "Rekka, write this..."
It was, it was waiting in its little seafoam bubble for me. And, um, the bubble popped as soon as the Kickstarter made it.
I really am disappointed. I wasn't able to make the, the interview episode. Um, it's fantastic if you haven't listened to it, absolutely go back and, uh, and listen to it. But yes, mermaids monthly has, has funded in that time. So any of our listeners that contributed thank you or we're happy that that got funded. It sounds really cool. Um, but you know, we, when we kind of talked about anthologies, I had like two areas that we wanted to cover. One was, you know, what Rekka and Julia were talking about last week, you know, the production side of an anthology, the editing, the story selection, et cetera. But you know, this is a podcast, not just about that side of things, but about the writing side of things.
And sometimes we do things out of order.
Sometimes we do things out of order. Frequently do things out of order.
That's just so you don't build up any expectations that we have to live up to.
We don't want anyone getting too comfortable here. But yeah, we wanted to just do, you know, a little bit on, uh, writing for an anthology, submitting, what to expect, you know, from the writer side of things. Julie of course had a ton of insight and information and knowledge last week about what's going on behind the scenes there. Um, but actually then, you know, figuring out like, "Hey, these anthology things sound great. Where do I get started?" Along those lines. You know, we kind of wanted to walk a few things on anthologies here from the writer side, what they are, why you should do them, and what to expect. So, um, as always, I like to start with definitions and a little bit of background. So, you know, well, I'm sure most people listening know what an anthology is. An anthology is a collection of work by different authors, writers, or contributors.
Um, anthologies actually date back quite a bit. Um, and they're primary... They were primarily poetry focused. Um, the first anthologies that we kind of accept that existed were in, uh, Japan and they were collections of poetries in like the 13th and 12th century, um, you know, printing and publishing was not really the thing that it is, but you had all of these people writing poetry and wanted to get it into one place. So that's what they did. Um, you know, in modern era, anthologies definitely were very poetry heavy, but then in the, you know— E,specially I will credit science fiction with this, um, short story, science fiction became very popular in the first half of the 1900s. And that was where we saw a lot of anthologies take off with these collections of short stories at that point. And, um, in some cases they were single author, so it wasn't really an anthology so much as a collection of short stories, but then this became more and more commonplace. Um, in some cases the anthologies were highlighted collections from magazines or periodicals where, you know, they took the best of the year or the award winners and put them together in a, in a anthology that was published. And a lot of, uh, magazines and publications still do those today.
Yep. I think those are some of the most commonly understood examples of anthologies is that you'll get, you know, the 2020 "best of science fiction and fantasy."
But there's more than one way to do an anthology. You know, there's um, what Julia was talking about last week, where it's a project where you're actively gathering contributors and going through a submissions process and putting something together that is specifically for an anthology, and then there's also, you know, "the best of the best for the decade" or, you know, "our top five most read stories" or something like that.
And we should say just real quick as an aside, those Best Ofs are according to whoever put that anthology together. They're generally the stories that were most well-read and most, uh, discussed.
Yeah. And something that you see now more and more, especially in this time of, um, you know, online publications and periodicals is, and it follows the collection of, you know, whoever is editing or curating this, maybe it was, you know, the stories that got the most views or the most talked about or whatever, and then they'll select those and publish them because, hey, people still like actual physical books.
We sure do.
Yep. So, but you know, it could be any, it could be an ereader version as well. You know, just going into this with the understanding of there's, there's multiple ways that anthologies appear and that content is collected for them. Um, we are primarily going to be talking about anthologies that you are specifically submitting for where there's a call for an anthology rather than "I'm gathering these things that were already published and publishing them in an anthology."
Hey, Parvus has done one of these.
We have, um, it was, uh, I can tell you it was an experience. So trust me, we will be, uh, I will be referencing through the, through the course of this, but, um, so, you know, let's get started with like, why are anthologies good? Why is this something that you should, you know, take the time and effort? Because let's be clear, this is a short story. And it may even be shorter than your average short story submission, but sometimes that makes it more work.
So you mean in terms of, um, why write for an anthology?
Yeah. Why is this something that the either average or aspiring author should be interested in participating in?
Um, well, why you would want to have a short story published is maybe different from why you would pick an anthology to write for exactly. Um, why you want to publish a short story is honestly, to get more of your brain juice out there. Like, you know, have more for readers, um, take a break from, you know, maybe your ultra serious Epic fantasy novel and write a really wacky little short story kind of thing. Um, I've heard recently an episode of Writing Excuses where they also said that, um, I think it was Mary Robinette Kowal who said that she discovered that she liked writing science fiction because she just sort of accidentally wrote a couple science fiction short stories, and thought that she was, you know, a fantasy and historical fantasy writer. And then somebody told her like, "you know you're good at science fiction, right? You should write more of this." Turns out that was a good choice.
Yes. Yeah. She, uh, she's won approximately all of the awards, various things since then.
Um, the, the idea being that you can experiment more without committing to a hundred thousand words of a novel. And when you write more and you, and you complete stories— like it's not just all the words you write that make you a better writer. It's also the story arcs that you complete the character development that you work through, the editing processes that you learn your tricks for. And this sort of lets you do that on a micro scale so that you can, you know, work those muscles with smaller reps, as opposed to, you know, having to do 20 Epic Novels before you feel like you've finally figured out your process.
Yeah. Also within that, it's giving you the ability to hone your craft. Um, what is particularly nice about an anthology and I'm gonna, I'm going to use this word. I know this is a cliched word, but I swear to God, this has layers. What is, you're getting out of an anthology from several different levels is exposure. I know. I know.
Oh, you said the word. Oh, I have to mute myself so I can just gag for a little bit.
So, but I'm going to use the word "exposure" in several different contexts here.
You better explain this.
One of the most important forms of exposure you are getting is to other writers and editors. You are getting exposure to a process of how this works on a smaller scale that is not just a novel. Um, when writing for an anthology, assuming you've been accepted, they don't just take your story and that's it. You're going to work with an editor. Um, you know, the degree and extent to which you are going to work with an editor, probably, you know, your mileage may vary, but you're absolutely going to. You're not doing this in a bubble. You're going to be interacting with other authors. You're going to have to talk with various types of editors. You know, all of the various editors we've talked about through the process here, the, you know, your, um, regular, you know, developmental and story editor, you're going to have to do line edits.
You're going to have to work with copy edits. Um, you are, depending on, you know, the involvement here and stuff you may have to review layouts. Um, especially if, you know, you've got some type of graphical intricacies going on there. Um, so this is exposing you to the publishing process on, I don't want to call it a micro scale, but in a more manageable, not as overwhelming way as it would be if maybe you were just writing to it for a novel for the first time. What is also really great about this is you are one part of a larger project. So there's a whole team of people that you're working with here that are all doing the same thing. Um, you know, it's not— You have a group of people on the publishing side that are not responsible just to you. They're responsible to everyone that is working on this.
So that means that you're probably going to be exposed to multiple people in each of those roles. And this is great because the other kind of exposure that's great here is networking exposure. You're going to meet so many people in just the course of having to do this. Um, like I said, editors, other authors, people who do, you know, probably marketing and, um, you know, publishing rights and that kind of stuff for, for this anthology. Um, it's a really great experience to—and a really great way to frankly—meet a lot of people quickly that are all interested in, in doing the same things you are.
That's assuming that you're not working with an anthology call that's a one-person shop.
Yes, yes. That is, that is true. We're, we're assuming a something more like even a Mermaid's Monthly where, you know, there's, there's multiple people involved in this. Um, the last layer of exposure that I'm going to expound upon here is the dirty one is the, "you're doing this for the exposure." Hopefully you're—.
No you're not. Get paid.
Yeah, get paid. And we're going to talk about that later. Um, but that said, the exposure is very good for this kind of thing. Um, a lot of anthologies have like cornerstone or like anchor authors and contributors that tend to be big names. If you're not a big name, having some of your work published in the same book that theirs is, that's certainly not a bad thing. Yeah.
Uh, there was an anthology call that, um, I wrote a story for, I already had the idea for the story. It was definitely shoehorned into their call. Um, Kaylin, you've read this one. And, uh,
Oh that one. Yes. I have read that one.
And so it was shoehorned into their call. So I was not surprised that it didn't make it in, but, uh, someone who's in my writing group that did make it in found out that his story was directly before a Turtledove story. So he was absolutely thrilled. So that's, you know, that's an exposure that you can't complain about. But also, he got paid, not pro rates, but he still got paid and the rights weren't, I assume over-reaching that's again, more we're going to get into.
Yeah. So when I say, you know, you're doing this for exposure, there's exposure to all different things, but let's, I know it's cliched. I know it's not a thing we like to say, but anthologies are a great way to get extra eyes on your work. Especially if they come attached to other things that maybe, you know, it's like a more well-known or prolific author at that point, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to do whatever you can to boost your visibility and getting into an anthology, especially if it's an author that you like and admire, and you want— I mean, how great does that feel to have your work showcased alongside somebody that you enjoy?
Or somebody that everyone knows their name or somebody that is going to sell the books because their name's on the cover.
Exactly. Yeah. Um, so then, you know, you're building up your writing, quote-unquote, resume. Your bibliography, but it is also, you know, there's a little bit of legitimacy that goes along with it because you went through an anthology process and it is not an easy thing to do. Um, the submissions alone can be very jarring, but, you know, then for all of the reasons I talked about with like the exposure to the different groups and because this is a large group, it can be a lot to manage. So, um... So it's, you know, getting published successfully in anthology is definitely a nice little thing to be able to tack on to, uh, your About Me section.
And check off on your writing career bingo card and that kind of thing. Um, and one other point is that, you know, while you're between novels or your novels are going through their, um, editing process, development process, if you are taking the time to bump stories out there into the world, and you know, there's only so much control you have over whether they're accepted because competition is fierce for these. But if you get in the habit of getting stories published, it's something that you can keep your pulse apparent to the outside world while you're working on bigger projects of your own.
Yep. All right. So all of this sounds great. You're really geared up there. "I want to, I want to go write something and get it published in an anthology." So where the heck do you find these things to submit to?
Um, One of the things to just do is befriend and network with a lot of other writers on Twitter. Cause a lot of anthology calls make the rounds on Twitter and you'll see them eventually. Um, and frequently if they're being funded through Kickstarter, you'll see them before the window is open so that you're not really scrambling. Yeah.
And that's, it's funny because I that's exactly what I was going to say is Google is your friend here. And so is Kickstarter. Now the thing you have to be careful about with Kickstarter is a lot of times these anthologies are either partially or completely filled out by that point.
Sometimes yeah. I mean, so when you are browsing Kickstarter for anthology projects, um, hopefully in the project description or in the updates, you will find the information of, um, whether that anthology is going to be opening for submissions. Sometimes they open for submissions if they reach a certain funding goal, which may not be a hundred percent, but it might be the point at which they say, "okay, now we know that we're going to move ahead enough that we're going to put out a call for people to consider submitting." Or "our stretch goal, you know, of an extra $2,000 is going to let us buy extra words and therefore extra stories."
Yeah. So, um, social media, huge. Kickstarter's definitely a good place to, you know, just look around, get some ideas.
Yeah Kickstarter is big about promoting anthology stories now. So it's a good place to browse and find some, and, you know, back some. If you're going to submit, I really recommend you back the, the anthology, it's not about payments. "It's going to come out of my payment or whatever." It's like, you're not even sure that you're going to be accepted, but you know, back a project you'd be excited enough about to appear in. That's just good business, that's networking positively.
So that's definitely networking as well. Along those lines, Rekka, you know, as you said, a project, you'd be excited to be in. Um, here's, here's the thing with a lot of anthologies is especially the ones where, you know, there's an open submissions process and they're gathering contributors a lot of times they're themed.
Right? And sometimes the theme is very specific, like "mermaids," other times the theme is more like "hope" or a certain demographic of people.
Yes. That's a good transition into, "okay, what do I submit to this? Should I take something that I already wrote that I really liked and try to fit it into this? Or do I, do I need to write something new for this?" My inclination is always try to write something new.
It's a good exercise at the very least.
If you just so happen upon an anthology, looking for contributors that you already have the perfect story written for. Well, then you were just very lucky and please, by all means, you know, submit your little heart out.
You might get some excitement about a theme topic that results in more anthologies being made on that topic. Something that, you know, people were begging for for years, and then somebody finally makes it, and then it's extremely successful, then someone else is going to be eyeballing that same theme going, "I know there are more stories here. If I give it some breathing room, you know, I could do this anthology too or very similar one." And then if you were in the pile of near misses from the first time, then, um, you know, you might find a new place for that story, but generally you've also grown maybe by a year or so. You might want to write a new one anyway.
Yeah. And so, I mean, this is good practice for short stories in general, but, you know, especially for anthologies is write to what they are asking for. Pay attention to the submissions. You know, Julia talked about this a lot in last week—or two weeks ago's episode, um, you know, and in their case, it's mermaids. If their story does not have, or is not about mermaids, then this was not going to be something that they were interested in. Um, anthologies, you know, as they are getting more and more, you know, we, we see a lot of, especially Kickstarter-funded, uh, anthologies that are very specific. And that's great because you get a whole collection of stories about one thing that everyone loves. Um, but trying to shoe horn pieces in it, especially if it's some, you know, a larger short story, slightly longer one, it's not, you know, it's not going to go well, and it's going to annoy people handling the submissions. Um, just blatantly—you know, same practice with, you know, submitting short stories to magazines and various other publications—just blatantly sending, you know, the same thing out to everybody with a little explanation that changes slightly, depending on the publication of what they're looking for, of why this is good for it is not going to, to help you here.
If you are serious about trying to get your work in an anthology, identify the anthology that you want to submit to, and then write a piece specifically for that.
While, at the same time, you know, Julia's advice to write a piece that's unique to you and tells your very specific angle on things. Not write exactly the correct trope filled thing that will, that someone could look at and go, "there is no way you could reject this story. It hits every button." No they could still reject it. It might be boring as heck.
Yeah. Don't, you know, don't write to requirements, but also, you know, be aware of what those requirements are and find the story, maybe the mermaid story that lives in your heart and put it on paper and send it out into the world to get published. Um, it's, it's a f— it's a weird, fine line to walk, but it is important to write well and passionately about something. If you're writing stories for anthology consideration, and you just don't really care about it, that's probably not an anthology you should be submitting to.
I would say that, like the story that we mentioned earlier that you've read: that was not the right story for that anthology. And I kind of knew it, but.
It was a good story though.
It was also like a lot of fun to write and I was backing that anthology. So I was kinda like, "yeah, I'll just toss it in there." And I don't regret it.
Nope. But you know, along those lines, um, be aware, you know, if— Julia talked a lot about this, so I won't go through too much of what a slush pile is and how this works for anthologies, but— be aware that this is a thing that is happening. If somebody opens your story and is just like "this isn't even close to what I'm looking for." If they make it past the first page, I'd be shocked.
Well, yeah, it's hard to say.
Yeah, it depends on how long it takes them to realize that you did not read the instructions
Or that you chose to disregard them. Exactly. Yeah. The guidelines are very important. They're there for a reason. And if you don't have a story that fits them and you don't want to write one, then move on to another anthology and see if you got something better for that.
And look, it's not, every anthology is going to, you know, be for you. Maybe you don't particularly like mermaids, you know, then maybe don't like write for a mermaid based anthology? You know, these anthologies get so many submissions and a good portion of them are going to be people that are just throwing mud at various walls to see what sticks, what they can get through. So some care and attention, and some indication that you are very interested in this and that you wrote something, or you had something that you think is specific and very special for this, will go a long way.
But yeah, I mean, in terms of writing for an anthology, the thing that I feel like people need to keep in mind is that these anthology calls never pop up when you have a spare minute. Oh no, of course. So you're going to see an anthology call and go, "I was going to revise my novel that month. And now, now we don't have, like, I can't, I must, I want to write for this." So like when an anthology call pops up and you cannot resist stealing time away from a project you were already like really committed to, that might be the anthology call that is right for you.
There is no time of year that is the anthology heavy time of year. There isn't a publishing cycle necessarily for, um, anthologies that are specifically looking for contributors. There is a time of year that anthologies will come out, but they are, you know, those Best Of kind of anthologies.
Right, and those are reprints. So it's not like that's work for the person who's appearing in them anyway, it's it's proofing, but that's about it. It's already been printed once, the editing's been done. They're not going to change the words if they're proving that it's a Best Of.
Yeah. I would love to tell you, like, "yes, be prepared because April may every year, this is when you start seeing all the calls for anthology contribution." That's not a thing.
Nope. It's when the anthology editors get all their thoughts together on paper and they come up with that budget plan Julia was talking about, and then they figure out their timing, they plan out their Kickstarter campaign, and who's going to do what and, and get their timeline in order. Then they might announce it. And then, then you hopefully have a little bit of warning, but probably not much,
Probably not too much.
Probably by the time you've heard of it. You're a few days into that Kickstarter campaign.
If it's something you're interested in, I'm sorry to tell you this. There is no good way to do this, except to do everything that you possibly can to stay on top of this.
Again, if the anthology called moves you to write something, chances are, you're not going to be able to resist anyway, I would say that's the right anthology call for you.
Rekka, as someone who's had experience doing both of these anthology and magazine and publication submissions, I imagine if you're sitting at home listening to this, it may sound like a lot of the same. Like it might sound like there's overlap here of, well, "what's the difference between submitting to an anthology versus submitting to a magazine that has a, has a call out.?"
I mean, there's a little bit of overlap in that you have to, you know, have a well-polished story. You have to self-edit, you know, a couple of rounds. You want to really hone that thing as much as you have time to do. Um, if you have a piece that you're just going to shop around to magazines, you have a little bit more time to do that. Um, as we mentioned, the anthology calls, uh, the windows can be a little small, so that's a little bit more pressure to get it through the editing process. Um, but as you know, Julia and I discussed last week, the editors kind of know that too. So you might get a little bit more slack for grammatical issues or, um, a bit of prose that goes awry or something that you would from a magazine.
"Prose that goes awry."
I think that should be the subtitle of this, uh, this, uh, entire podcast maybe, or my, or just my writing career.
Um, but, uh, yeah. So when you are submitting to one or the other, the first most important step is to find the guidelines and absolutely adhere to anything that is not being left up to your choice. Because there's a reason for that. And that reason is to minimize the work that's going to be done on the other end. Um, sometimes it's house style things where you see a magazine will tell you, like "we want American English spellings of everything." You know, the guidelines will have some hard specificity to them. In terms of what the story will be. The guidelines for a magazine are probably going to just maybe, um, [coughs and it sounds remarkably like "Clarkesworld'] going to tell you what not to send them. These become pet peeves of the editor, uh, that they pass down to the first readers. So that those become the first readers' pet peeves. Um, and there are certain things that are just not going to make it through. And they'll tell you that. Um, many anthologies will be less specific because of the theme. Like they already told you what the theme is and they want to see what you'll do with it, but they might tell you, for example, we will not accept any stories that, um, you know, highlight violence or, you know, racism or bigotry, things like that.
So. Well, I would say that one of the big differences to understand here is a magazine is an ongoing thing. So be it a, you know, a magazine, a periodical publication of some kind, is ongoing. So, an anthology, conversely, either you're in it, or you're not. Um, a magazine on the other hand, you know, maybe your story wasn't exactly what they were looking for right at that moment, but maybe they'll keep it in their back pocket. Maybe it's, you know, I, I think, and Rekka correct me if I'm wrong, that you have a little bit more flexibility with a magazine to use creative license in there in that maybe this isn't exactly what we need right now, but a few issues from now, this might fit very nicely with a themed issue that we're doing. Versus—
I think it's very rare that a magazine is going to hold your story for a future thing that they might do. Um, very frequently you are in a submissions period window. You know, the magazine will open for a certain amount of time, every certain timeframe. So for example—you have the entire gamut—uh, Clarkesworld is open all the time. You'll probably get that rejection by the end of the week, Strange Horizons is open for 24 hours once a week, except for certain, like, two weeks a year. Um, other magazines are open for like a quarter and then they close and then they open for another quarter or, you know, a month, every other month, something like that. So if you are interested in submitting for magazines, you really have to be on top of their schedules to know, if there's a magazine you want a piece to go to, when they're going to be open.
Because the other thing to be tricky about is not to have sent it off to a magazine that has really slow response time that makes you miss that window. Um, so magazines submissions are kind of like a balancing act. You, you want a playbook that you figure out like what your, what your process is for a story. It's very rare that I hear even for, um, a magazine that has themed quarters, for example, like Fireside will do a quarterly, uh, themes. I'm trying to think of another one I know that, I've just seen one recently where they're, um, Zombies Need Brains has a, um, a couple of, uh, when they do their Kickstarter, they announce like four themes. And so if you're submitting, you're not necessarily submitting for the next one that comes out, you're submitting based on the theme that your story is written to. But they might all be reviewed together. And then you don't find out until the beginning of that calendar year, which ones, you know, re going to be accepted. So it's, it's weird. It's tricky. Um—
That should be the tagline for this podcast.
I guess before we get too much further, I should talk about the Submissions Grinder? Submissions Grinder is a web app that's hosted by Diabolical Plots and, um, they themselves are a magazine. And, um, I believe they're opening soon if they haven't already. Um, but they basically have this tool online that lets everyone aggregate their, uh, submissions information for both anthologies and magazines and even some non-fiction markets. You can run a search for open markets based on your story's criteria. So for example, a 4,100 word, uh, science fiction story, and you can put that you want, you know, pay rate of 6 cents or more per word, and then it'll return all the open markets that meet those qual— You know, that a fiction story of 4,100 words might potentially be published in. And, um, and at the pay rates that you request and you can even sort by pay rate, or you can sort by rejection time, you know, response time, I should say, but let's be real.
So then you can, you know, log your submissions and Submissions Grinder will kind of keep people apprised of how that magazine is responding to things, the age of, um, stories that are responded to and, provided that everybody submits like keeps up to date on their, um, data entry, then you get some of that rejectomancy juice flowing because people can watch and see, you know, like, "Oh, look, the submissions that were sent in on August 12th are starting to get their responses this week," you know? Um, and so you sort of know of like, "Ooh, I didn't get the response, but everybody else did. Did I make it to another round? You know, like have I, have I made it to the next challenge? You know, the next level of slush." So yeah, that's Submissions Grinder, and it's a great tool. I definitely recommend you keep a backup of your own submissions history, just in case anything ever happened to their server.
With an anthology, you know, where there's a call for contributors, it's very possible. They may even say, "we'll let everyone know by this day." Pretty much. Or, you know, "the first round of rejections is going out this day after that." And by the way, it's very common in this process that an editor is going to want to talk to you beforehand. Um, in very rarely do, unless, you know, you were approached beforehand specifically and asked to write or contribute something to this. Um, very rarely are they just going to send you an email and be like, "Hey, we picked this. Isn't that great." Um, there's always a little bit of a vetting process that goes into this.
Um, It's a very brief vetting process though, as compared to like having discussions with agents and publishers, uh, it's generally, you know, you get a response that says, "we are interested in purchasing this story," you know, and then you do a little dance and you answer whatever questions they have. It's not, um, it's not hard to find out about a person online these days. So if they're vetting you for your reputation, you've probably laid it all out on Twitter for them already. Um, if they're vetting you for your experience, you know, that might be on your website. Hopefully you have a website, please have a website.
They could be vetting you to see if they're going to be good working with you because that's another thing to note here is, I had mentioned, don't expect that they're not going to want any work on your piece. Because this is an anthology and it's a shorter piece, generally speaking, they're going to be pretty happy with it, but they may want you to do some work. There may be some, I won't say significant, but there could be some sizable edits involved in this. And that's where I'm saying, you know, they're probably going to talk to you, especially if they're like, listen, we really like this story. We need you to tweak it a little bit cause, okay, maybe they want it to fit in better with the theme of the anthology. Maybe there's, you know, something in there that they're like "this just isn't going to sit well with the re with the theme for the, um, you know, the book we're putting out" so they could want to talk to you just to make sure everyone's on the same page and you're not going to stomp your feet and pout and say, "I'm not changing a single word of this."
Well, you have some editors who will only pick stories that don't need a lot of work because they don't have the time to deal with that. Like I said, you might have a very small team or even a team of one person, and they're not going to pick stories that they're going to have to spend intensive time working on you with. If you were submitting to a magazine and there was something they weren't happy with, chances are, unless it's very minor, you're not going to get an acceptance or even an invitation to discuss possible changes. What's more likely to happen is they'll say "revise this with this feedback and you can resubmit someday and we'd look at it again" because, um, what we haven't really touched on is that if this is one and done, generally, if your story gets rejected, you don't get to send that story back again.
Yes. That's very important to know with anthologies.
Anthologies and magazines magazines. Don't, you know, they may not have a long memory, but it's very possible. They also do. So you don't know, um, you don't want to take your story that was rejected and just, you know, change the characters' names and flip it back and send it again, you know, in less than six months. It's very likely they'll remember it. Um, and it's very likely it won't get any further than it did the first time, uh, you know, much less. It'll have a much shorter life span if the person who saw it, you know, already knew it was rejected right off the bat. So, um, but with an anthology call, if they do like it, you probably won't get a revise and resubmit, um, suggestion because of the timeframe you're working in. You might get an editor who really likes the story, but wants to know, would you be comfortable making these changes?
And if so, then they're interested in buying it. Um, and that's going to again, be a quick process. And probably as I said, not a very laborious one. I doubt they're going to want to change the theme of your story. Um, it's going to be more like, um, "this comes off as problematic," or "this is really similar to another story that I'm definitely accepting. Um, if we can tweak this detail out, it may not even be critical to the story then," you know, something like that. But it's, I really don't think you're going to get very deep changes on a call because the competition is so fierce. Now, if you somehow ended up an anthology that nobody heard about and they're grasping for, you know, to fill the word count that they wanted, then that might be a totally different process because they are, you know, a little bit more willing to work with you because they just want to put together a good anthology and they didn't get the raw meat they needed to make a proper meatloaf.
Along those lines Rekka. Uh, you know, we've talked a lot here about anthologies. They're great. They're a lot of fun. They're good for that dreaded word "exposure" and they're good for your career. And they're a good experience that said not all anthologies are created equal.
Some are created to screw people over.
Same with magazines though.
Same with magazines, yes.
Same with publishers.
Same with publishers.
There who are ready to screw you over at every, every step of the way. And it really does come down to, um, being savvy, uh, knowing what your value is and, um, standing up for yourself and watching for these red flags.
That said, anthologies are something that I think specifically is very easy to get sucked into and taken advantage of. Um, for all of the reasons that we mentioned before, you know, the, you know, adding this to your, uh, your bibliography, your writing resume, um, you know, the apparent legitimacy that this affords you. A lot of people see this as an easy-in. I want to be clear, first of all, even, you know, any anthology like, especially the legitimate ones, this is not easy. There are, you know, predatory, people and publications out there that know that writers are desperate to just try to get something published and will do things to try to, well, take advantage of them there. So in terms of red flags with anthologies, this one right off the bat should be very obvious if you've ever listened to this podcast: do not pay to be in an anthology.
Not only that, but do you not pay to have your submission reviewed.
Across the board, do not pay to have your submission reviewed. If you really want somebody to look at your stuff that badly, take that money and go hire an editor. Never pay to have your work featured in an anthology. And this is where that exposure word comes in, where, you know, the people are going, Oh, no, but "you're paying us. But think of all this exposure you're gonna get."
Remember, they have no content if they don't have writers. So you should be paying them in exposure.
Yes. Um, but along those lines and tied to this, also, is be careful of your rights. Um, a legitimate anthology will have—and by the way, magazine submission, same thing—very clearly upfront, what rights the publisher is maintaining here. Now frequently, this will be something like, um, you know, publishing and electronic rights in US English or Global English or something along those lines. Um, what that means is that if you know, John Favreau picked us up and said, "Hey, this would make a great movie." That means he's still got to get the rights from you, for that movie.
Speaker 3 (00:47:37):
Right. Anything that's, that's not signed over to the publisher in the contract—and when I say "signed over," um, I'm hoping that you're getting paid and therefore you're selling these to the publisher. You can even request the line that say, "all other rights, not mentioned are, you know, retained by the author." That's never a bad thing to ask for. So whatever is in there is in there and that's the contract and you signed it. And that's why we call them contracts.
There are, there are theologies that are literally just a bright scraps. They are going to get as many short stories as they can publish all of them, maintain the rights, and then if you think there aren't people who work for four or with this group that will just go shop those short stories to anyone. I mean, primarily Hollywood.
They like short stories. Keep in mind that most of the Stephen King movies, you know, and love were probably short stories at one point.
So, um, it's, it's a very tidy way for a, for a studio to get a fully realized story that doesn't need a whole lot of editing down. Because that's the thing about short stories, they don't have all those extra moving pieces that Hollywood usually has to strip out when they convert a novel to a screenplay. So when you are selling to an anthology, especially short stories, especially when you are getting pennies per word, you want to make sure that you protect whatever value that the story can be for you otherwise. And, uh, whether that's resell value, which means that, you know, you can sell it as a reprint story and you'll get less, but magazines will buy stories that have already been published, as a reprint. And then, you know, you can just do that as many times, as long as you don't accidentally give up all your rights to that story. And, you know, without an end date, it's usually going to be sometimes it's six months. I mean, it depends how quickly the magazine tends to get its issues out. Sometimes it's six months. I've heard some of them try to go for two years, which is really on the long end of things. Generally, again, they're looking at this in terms of calendar years. So when they put your story out, that issue is quote-unquote, you know, stale in a year. So they're not going to try and hang onto those rights, other than maybe if they do a Best Of, and then it's probably even in there that they'll renegotiate at that point.
Along those lines, you know, of, um, you know, pennies per word, be aware of the comp structure. Good legitimate anthologies will be very upfront about how this works. Typically, very typical of anthologies is you were paid a certain amount upfront based on the number of words. There's a, you know, there's different rates. Um, you know, maybe hopefully you can find one that does the, uh, you know, the SFWA level pro rate. Um, but be very clear about it. Anthologies, typically do not continue to pay you based on the number of copies sold.
Right? There are no royalties. You're selling flat.
It's too much work for, you know, for these to handle. You are selling a flat rate, they retain certain rights to your story. You maintain the rest of them.
And again, anthologies make a bit of a splash when they come out, but they're not something like a novel that hits a bestseller list and then, you know, has a long tailwind.
Yeah. And if you're thinking here, "well, that doesn't sound fair. So that means like this anthology is going to make a big splash. And then, you know, the publisher is just going to keep making money, hand over fist, with it forever." Anthologies are so much more expensive than a regular novel. Um, you know, Julia talked about, you know, the, some of the budgetary concerns and everything that goes into this. Anthologies are so expensive. Um, if a publisher, especially a smaller publisher, recovers their cost on it, that is—and that's, by the way, why so many of these are done through Kickstarter because the money upfront required to get an anthology off the ground is staggering.
And it's probably more than that anthology will ever make just by releasing it in a quiet, traditional manner. Like Kickstarter really helps to get eyes on it. And then it helps to get people to commit to it ahead of time so that it can be funded before it even comes out. And then that might be the end of it. You know, it comes out, people already backed it. So they get their copies, and maybe there's a trickle of sales, but it's not, it's not going to really be something that is making money long-term. So don't resent the publisher for not paying you your royalties each quarter, which would end up being like 0.1 cent.
You're going to make more money off of this, selling it flat than you would in a royalty structure. If somebody is offering you a royalty structure, I would actually go so far as to say, be very dubious of that.
And worry about them as a human, the amount of energy that they're going to spend on this.
Yeah. Yeah. So, um, one last weird red flag, which I didn't really realize how much of a thing it was until I was doing research on this and actually came across a number of these: do not submit to anthologies that are offering prizes instead of money. Um, I was—
Hey, well, what if I need a blender?
Get the money from the anthology and go buy the blender.
And then you get to choose your blender.
Then you get to pick the blender. Um, no, I, I was, I was very surprised by how many anthologies and stories about this I came across where they're like "the prize for getting accepted by this is, you know, a thing like a physical thing, like an iPad, but like an old one that we used to be my daughter's and it's got some crayon on it and we're going to mail it to you." Um, no, but like, there's, there's this weird thing out there, and I'm not sure how much of it is genre versus, you know, other forms of anthologies and non-fiction. Um, but there's this weird thing out there where there are prizes offered instead of like monetary compensation. Um, look if you really want the crayon iPad than sure, go for it, but also avoid those. It's just, um, that's, I can't even call it an anthology. It's more of like a writing contest at that point. And I'm not sure what the prize is other than a weird iPad.
Yeah. That, that is more of like a County Fair level, you know, competition. Um, you're going to be up against like, if you're in genre, you might be up against memoir, you know, who knows?
Yeah. The one, um, the one other last thing I will say here, I talked kind of at the beginning of this episode about poetry and how that was really sort of the advent of anthologies. If, you know, obviously we talk about fiction. We specifically talk about genre fiction a lot on here. Um, if you are submitting poetry to an anthology—which by the way is very common and I believe like one of the more pervasive forms of anthology out there, um, is poetry—be especially careful with that with rights and everything because, um, I don't think many rights for poetry gets sold to Hollywood, but, um, poetry tends to form in collections, which is, you know, where anthology sort of sprung out from. So, um, if you are submitting poetry through an anthology, just be especially careful about that. Rights seem to be a big issue there. Because, you know, typically when you're submitting a poem, we're not talking about something that's a 20,000 word short story, we're talking about something that's maybe a few hundred words and you get paid differently and structured and everything there. So—
Yeah, I mean, if you ever wanted to release your own poetry books someday, you just got to make sure that you've got all your rights and if you ever released a themed poetry book, then maybe it does become a movie or a music album. I mean, you just get—make sure that in a year or so after the anthology comes out, you own that story again.
Yeah, exactly. Because poetry is, is weird with this where poetry is very short typically. And, um, it's not the same as, you know, you can just go publish a short story and put it on Amazon. It's very difficult to get people to pay for individual poems on Amazon. So, uh, anthologies are one of the main outlets there. And again, rights are always important.
Um, the last thing just to wrap up here, um, my cautionary stuff is I will—and this is something I actually have experienced in myself—is to be clear about academic versus, um, fiction and nonfiction anthologies. Because anybody who, you know, has come from academia, I'm sure you've had to do writing and research and like it's, you know, a publish-or-perish situation. Um, I've had a couple of things that I submitted to different periodicals and magazines published. Um, in those cases, the power dynamic is a little different here.
Um, you still should not be paying to have things published. That's a big no-no in academia as well, but for different reasons. Um, but the power dynamic is a little different because you are essentially trying to win a contest. You are trying to get your paper to be the most interesting, the most groundbreaking, the most, whatever to get it published. Um, so if you're thinking through this and going, "Oh, hang on a second. I submitted this stuff to this, uh, academic journal and they put me through this ringer," that is very different. That is career oriented. That is a step that depending on, you know, what your field is, you must take at certain points. I mean, if I had stayed an historian, all I'd be doing is trying to publish research papers and, uh, get books written—different kinds of books, obviously. Um, so don't, don't conflate the two it's, um, it's, it's a very different from, from fiction and nonfiction, creative writing versus academic writing. In those sometimes they do give you a prize and that's a big deal. Those are, those are the scenarios in which it's like, "Hey, and the winners getting a $50,000 grant," and then there are grad students killing each other over it. So.
Don't be those people though.
Yeah. Don't. We don't need any more dead grad students.
I mean go win the grants, but don't kill anyone to get there. Don't climb over a pile of dead bodies to get your grant.
It's the only way to get grants, Rekka.
Just picturing like that scene from Terminator.
Yeah. Um, that's what it felt like a lot actually. Um, it was, uh, I, I will tell you, I can't remember if I ever told this story on this, but, um, I had submitted to, um, a publication and the first thing I had to do was get... Like my university was allowed to submit a certain number of papers. So the first thing I had to do was get by like my professor's like review board and it was all supposed to be anonymous. So like I had to print this out, put it in an envelope with like a number on it. And then I was going to get, you know, notes and stuff back from them. I opened one of the envelopes and my 30 pages were in it. They had been torn to confetti.
Well that's something.
Um, what's really funny is that made it very obvious which professor had done that. But yes, needless to say he did not like it, but it was one of two things that I actually got published.
Okay, so that's a good point, to bring this back to our topic, is that what one editor hates and despises and shreds to confetti—thankfully we send digital files now and we can still send those to other editors who might also love them. Because let's be clear if you get something published in an magazine or an anthology, the editor loved it. Because the competition is so fierce, it's not just good enough. You didn't slip through the cracks and, you know, sneak by them and get in, you know, without being caught. You were chosen. Your story was chosen and it beat fierce competition to get there. So, um, don't, I, it's hard not to just remember the, the editor who tears it to confetti when you think of that story, but—
Oh, I remember, I remember that professor, he did not like me.
Well, but who cares? Because it was published and you didn't need him. And that's, that's how you can, you know, think about the editors that don't choose your stories. Once you, once you get to that point where your stories are getting chosen. And, you know, I've heard people call it a numbers game. I've heard people call it like, uh, you know, figuring out where your puzzle piece fits across, you know, a table of 60 or 70 puzzles. Um, but it's, it's a slog and you really, really have to give yourself credit for the successes. Because they don't come as frequently as we might like.
And that said, you know, to kind of wrap us up here, anthologies are great. And there are a lot of fun. And they're a great way to challenge yourself to maybe step out of your writing comfort zone a little bit. Especially if it's something you can get excited about. So...
Yeah. I, I mean, as a, as a purchaser of anthologies, I love knowing that, like, this is the theme of the whole thing. If I'm into that, this entire book should be pretty much up my alley. Or, you know, sometimes the anthologies are about a movement, and I want to support that movement and I can support that and support individual—like a whole team of individual people while supporting that. Um, and sometimes it's just like, "Oh, that's bizarre. I just want to hear 50 different ways that people will tell that story." So anthologies are super cool for readers, and you get short stories that you can put down and pick it up and leave it, you know, for a couple of months and then come back to it and your bookmark's in there, and you just read the next one. Or you jump around. I mean.
You've got options.
You've got options.
That's what we're getting at here. More than anything else, you've got options.
And as a writer who gets placed in an anthology, you get that chance to be discovered by somebody who hadn't heard of you before and picked you up because they like this theme. So another quick point then is if it, if it's a time crunch and if you're not really sure what to write and the, the anthology doesn't even work in your established genre, consider maybe not, you know, spending, putting your time into that. It might not be an investment that ends up being worth it, unless you want to try it. You know, like we said, earlier. Experiment. Yes. But, um, don't try to use anthologies as a gateway for readers to come into your existing library of work if the anthology story is great to end up nothing like the rest of your work.
Is so outside of what you typically write, yeah.
And again, if you're willing, if you're willing to pivot and make a change of this piece, turns into something big, totally different story. but be aware of that as you pick your anthologies that you want to participate in. And then run a search on, um, the Submissions Grinder, put your ear to the ground on Twitter and, you know, do a browse on Kickstarter and find something, and then try it. And, you know, maybe it takes 20 before you get placed in one, or maybe it's, you know, your first started or second or third one,
If it's something you're on the fence about definitely give it a shot. If nothing else, just see if, you know, just see— Someone's giving you a writing prompt, take that and run with it, see what you can do with it. If you're really like, still not sure. You know, what a great thing to do is pick up an anthology.
Yes. Definitely read some anthologies before you start submitting to anthologies. Same with magazines.
Use that to sort of figure out the type of anthology and genre that you would like to write to.
But yeah, anyway, you know, as always you can, uh, find us online. Rekka, you're going to have to do this cause I never can.
You can find us online at, uh, @WMBcast on Twitter and Instagram or at wmbcast.com. And, uh, we are also as it so happens on patreon.com/WMBcast. And of course I'm @bittybittyzap on Twitter. Kaelyn is barely even there, but you can find her. Um, and you can also find, uh, We Make Books on Apple podcasts, which is a great place to leave a rating and review if you are interested in doing so. And please leave a rating and review, of course, five stars is the most helpful, but any honest review is great. And we look forward to reading them.
Thank you everyone so much. And, uh, we'll see you in two weeks.
Take care, everyone.