I’m proud to announce that my anthology of fantasy short stories, Ye Olde Magick Shoppe, is now available for Amazon Kindle!
Even better, until the end of today—Sunday the 23rd—it is totally free for download. Check it out, and please review if you like what you read!
The next month or two is shaping up to be incredibly exciting. My first anthology, The Odds Were Against Us, is due to be published by Liberty Island Media; and my second, Ye Olde Magick Shoppe, is fully edited and is going to be self-published as soon as we get everything else whipped into shape. Which means that I’ll be spamming this blog with lots of crass self-promotion before too long…
In all seriousness, the last couple of years have been a tremendous learning process. It’s humbling when other people trust you with their writing, and thrilling when an edit can take an already solid piece and add that extra sparkle. I’m also grateful for good software, particularly Scrivener, which is making the whole publishing process much less painful than it used to be back in the bad old days.
In the meantime, what comes next? MOAR anthologies!
I’m opening up calls for submissions to two themed anthologies, one fantasy, one science fiction. The science-fiction one has the theme of “Asteroids”; and the fantasy one has the name of “Family”. Neither of these is a final title; I wanted people to get the chance to start writing quickly, before I took the time to come up with something clever.
Check out the full descriptions, and if either of the themes grabs you, the deadlines are March 1st of next year.
As I’m eagerly waiting for my first anthology to be published (the publisher assures me that it will be Real Soon Now™), I’ve nearly finished editing the second, Ye Olde Magick Shoppe. This one was a challenge because the authors went in so many directions with the theme; but the whole collection is going to be a treat, I’m happy to say.
I wonder though if my editing method is similar to how it usually works. Basically I go through a draft, “track changes” in Word and then ruthlessly change things I feel like and add notes where I want clarification, and hand it back to the authors and ask for their reactions; a few rounds of this and we usually come to a consensus, though at times it involves some bruised feelings. It’s a bit authoritarian and there might be a gentler method that would work better, and I’d like to know of one if so.
Still, I do have confidence in my own “reader’s ear.” I want the short stories to be the best they can be, and I hope my authors understand.
Can’t wait for our babies to be launched!
Today is the published deadline for submissions to Ye Olde Magick Shoppe, my second anthology. If you have already submitted and haven’t heard back, it’s because I’m being blizzarded by submissions, thankfully!
Don’t let that dissuade you, though; my goal is to see all quality stories published, either in this anthology or in some other venue. Good luck, and I look forward to your submissions!
I’ve been writing for a long time, but The Odds Are Against Us is the first time I ever tried to put together a collection of other people’s work. It’s also the first time I ever ran a successful Kickstarter project, with all the expectations that implies. So the last year has definitely been a learning experience; the good news is that for Ye Olde Magick Shoppe, I’ll be better prepared. (By the way, submissions are open! Click the link and check it out.)
Since I’m surely not the only person who’s producing a compilation of other people’s work, I figured that a writeup of my key takeaways would be interesting. So here they are:
1. Everything takes longer.
When it’s just you, you are limited by your own capabilities; but on the other hand, you have total control, and no coordination friction. Once other people are involved, time has to be budgeted in dealing with all the slowdowns that result. And even if you think you gave yourself enough time, you probably didn’t.
I first published the Call for Submissions in December 2016, launched the Kickstarter project in February 2017, and promised the completed anthology to my backers by December 2017. In my case, even though editing the stories took more time than I anticipated, I actually did give myself a distant-enough deadline to handle the overflow anyway—provided that we went the self-publishing route, which was the plan. Even when I started talking with my publisher, I assumed that there was enough time left to meet our promised deadline without difficulty. But traditional publication is a much, much, much more deliberate process than I expected. Hence the delay.
2. Start planning your campaign early.
I didn’t decide when to launch the Kickstarter campaign until far too close to the anthology’s submission deadline; so marketing suffered, and the project page wasn’t as polished as I would like. For one thing, the promo video used computer voices, which sounded hideous, because I could do it in an hour or two—but I figured computer voices were marginally better than no sound at all.
For my next project, even though I’m planning to launch the Kickstarter page in April, I’m already in contact with artists and voiceover actors. With a little luck, the project page will be far more attractive than it was this time around, which means more backers and more money for authors. And speaking of which…
3. Budget realistically.
Kickstarter takes roughly 10% of the gross as its fee. It also costs money to mail physical books to backers, or to provide other tangible rewards. And about 70% of the funds raised were used to pay the authors, of course—and suddenly we’re already in the red.
I expected that, and viewed it as a long-term investment, in principle. And on the bright side, for a modest project like this one, the dollar amounts are manageable. But in a larger project, the costs of distributing backer rewards can quickly get out of hand if you don’t plan for them carefully.
I don’t know yet what proportion of funds will go to the authors the next time around, but it may end up being closer to 60%. And as fun as it sounds to offer things like bookmarks or art prints, we’ll probably skip all that and stick with intangibles, like being able to name a character.
4. Know what rights you want from your authors, and why.
With my original plan to self-publish, I didn’t care so much about securing a long term of rights from the anthology’s authors. When traditional publication became possible, that became a problem; the publisher was hesitant and ultimately wanted a longer period of exclusivity, which I had to get from the authors. That slowed us down.
Next time, I’ll have a better set of expectations about what rights to secure, and will get signed contracts from the authors in advance. That will make the anthology more marketable, and will hopefully help us avoid unexpected delays over the legal wrangling.
If this was helpful for you, let me know in the comments. Kickstarter and other crowdfunding methods are powerful, but you need to have a plan and realistic expectations. Once you are armed with those, however, the power of crowds can help bring new works of art to life.
I’ve been thinking about how to make my current anthology project as awesome as it can be. For one thing, I’ve noticed that a number of submissions are by relatively new authors who show a lot of talent, but maybe could use some feedback. The other thing is that I’m trying to figure out attractive swag for the Kickstarter project that we are going to have in a month or two.
Here’s an idea I wanted to run by people: what if authors could pledge, say, $50 to the Kickstarter in exchange for getting a one-page high-level developmental critique of their submission, and the chance to resubmit (as well as the smaller-dollar backer rewards, such as book copies)?
On the positive side, most of that money is going right back to the chosen authors, so it’s a kind of “pay it forward” thing. Plus, it lets new authors improve their writing, which is always a good thing.
I’m worried, though, that people might see it as “pay-for-play,” meaning that the donation would become a stealth entry fee, or that people who donate would have a leg up over those who don’t. That’s absolutely not the case—I want the strongest stories in my anthology, not the ones who pay me a few bucks—but it is true that the chance to get feedback from the editor would make it easier to improve your story to my taste. And I don’t want people to be turned off, or to think that this is a scam.
So I’m asking you. Do you think that this would be appropriate? Or would you feel like this is a scam, or be otherwise turned off? Would you yourself be interested in a critique? How much would you be willing to pay for one? (Bear in mind that most critique services charge much more than $50 for a 20-page manuscript.)
Let me know in the comments. And if this is something you are interested in, be sure to sign up for my mailing list to be notified when the Kickstarter goes live, so you can order your critique.
Hopefully, I’ll have more news to report before long. In the meanwhile, it’s time for another Call for Submissions…
The theme for the next anthology is “Ye Olde Magick Shoppe.” Full rules are here, and the deadline is June 1. Your stories must include the buying or selling of magic as a plot element. Be sure to read the full rules, or risk the slush pile.
I look forward to reading your submissions! Good luck!
The many months since my last post have been an incredible trip. My Kickstarter project was funded, several tremendous short stories were submitted to the anthology, and they’ve only gotten stronger as we’ve gone through the editing process. Now I’m trying to figure out the best way to publish.
If there is one thing I have learned from this process, it’s that sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith. The thought of a total unknown like myself soliciting short stories with only a vague promise of payment, and then attracting enough crowdfunding sponsors to actually make the whole thing work, was terrifying. (My biggest fear was that only a handful of poor-quality stories would be submitted, and I’d be forced to publish them just because I had committed to.) I could very easily have decided not to go forward with the whole thing.
And yet, it all managed to work out in the end. The selected authors are great, our backers were incredibly generous, and once I get the logistical questions worked out, the world will have a book showcasing brand-new stories that might never have been seen otherwise. Which is a great feeling!
We’re still accepting story submissions until April 1. The more money gets raised, the more that chosen authors will be paid, and the more stories we can publish. Join me to make this a reality!