Anthologies

If you’ve followed this blog for awhile you have probably heard of Superstars Writing Seminars. Each of us Fictorians participated in the seminars and as such are considered Tribe Members. Not only did we get to spend several days rubbing shoulders with the greats like Kevin J. Anderson, David Farland, James A. Owen and many other top notch authors, we also have had the chance to meet one another.

Through Superstars I met my crit group. I also met the fine folks that started the Fictorians and through my association was invited to join. Another perk is the opportunity to participate in an annual anthology.

A few years ago, I hadn’t attended the most recent Superstars (usually in February, in Colorado). I followed a thread on Facebook introducing an anthology about purple unicorns. I couldn’t understand why, of all the awesome things to write about, would such a talented group of writers put out an anthology about purple unicorns. It seemed rather silly to me and I didn’t participate.

Later, I learned that the idea stemmed from a part of the seminar discussing the submission of what an editor/agent/publisher was looking for. If they want purple unicorns don’t write about dragons, even if they’re purple dragons. And don’t write about pink unicorns. Give them the best story you possibly can about purple unicorns.

When several of my friends and fellow tribe members were selected to participate in the anthology, I realized what I had missed. They were published by WordFire Press alongside Peter S. Beagle, Todd McCaffrey, Jody Lynn Nye and others. I kicked myself for not at least trying. Then I read the fantastic compilation of stories, one more unique than the next, each about a purple unicorn. It was incredible.

The next year, I didn’t hesitate to submit a story to the anthology about red unicorns. Even though I didn’t make the cut, the process was educational and worthwhile. I ended up selling my story to another anthology that will hopefully be released soon.

This past year I worked extra hard. The anthology went a different direction, dealing with dragons. It also took on a charitable purpose, named after a fellow tribe member who passed away. All profits support The Don Hodge Memorial Scholarship Fund, providing tuition to Superstars for those who are awarded funds by other tribe members. About 6 scholarships were awarded last year.

This time I made the cut. My story, HIS GREATEST CREATION, was selected alongside some incredible writers including Brandon Sanderson.

And now, in 2017, we are anxiously waiting the results of another Anthology, this one dealing with underwater sea creatures. My story, THE SHARK KING, has so far made the first cut.

Because of Superstars and WordFire Press, I can claim the status of a published author. It has been fantastic to participate in the process and learn from incredible people like Lisa Mangum who has edited all of the anthologies thus far. And each of the anthologies has been illustrated by James A. Owen.

So, if you want to write and you hope to get published, Superstars is the way to go. Not just for the anthology opportunity but because of all the training and awesome people you’ll meet in the process.

Jace KillanI live in Arizona with my family, wife and five kids and a little dog. I write fiction, thrillers and soft sci-fi with a little short horror on the side. I hold an MBA and work in finance for a biotechnology firm.

I volunteer with the Boy Scouts, play and write music, and enjoy everything outdoors. I’m also a novice photographer.

You can read some of my works by visiting my Wattpad page and learn more at www.jacekillan.com.

When a Small Press Folds

Anthology with story from Mary Pletsch

There are a lot of small presses out there publishing excellent books. Publishing with a small press comes with benefits but also drawbacks, and we’ve had some great posts this month talking about both. As someone who’s sold short stories to anthologies published by a number of small presses, I’ve had some illuminating experiences for both good and bad.

The good: Being published by a small press gave me networking “cred” that self-publishing likely would not have. I’ve run the editorial gauntlet, so to speak, and my stories were chosen to appear in venues such as the Tesseracts anthologies (published by EDGE), Women in Practical Armour (published by Evil Girlfriend Media) and my first sale, the e-book edition of When the Hero Comes Home 2 (published by Dragon Moon Press). These credentials have given me contacts and opportunities that I would not have gotten, or would have been much harder won, if I’d needed to convince those contacts that my self-published work was as good as the work that these presses published.

The bad: Small presses are small, and that means internal issues at the publisher, outside the writer’s control, can have a huge impact. Setting aside cases of deliberate fraud or well-intentioned bumbling: even the most professional of small presses can be vulnerable.

Case in point. I sold a story to an anthology that was going to be published by a small press. Shortly thereafter, the press’s owner (and primary operator) sadly passed away. There was no one to take over ownership of the press and it closed. The anthology went out of print only a few weeks after it first came out when the press closed. I say “out of print,” but in a digital sense…the paper copies had not yet become available.

Fortunately, the anthology was saved when the editor–who had independently published some of her own work–made arrangements that allowed her to publish the anthology as a “Second Edition” under her self-publishing banner. It is now, once again, available in both print and e-book.

It was, however, a reminder to me that even reputable small presses can find themselves struggling when personnel step down. The effects of financial issues, personal issues, and health concerns–all perfectly understandable–are magnified when they affect a small business owner or key staff member and there is no one else willing or able to fill the role.

There have been a number of calls for submissions for anthologies that I would have liked to have been part of, only to have the calls delayed or the anthologies cancelled because of life issues on behalf of the editors and/or publishers. I can count my good fortune that I either had not yet started writing the stories or else was able to adapt them enough to sell them elsewhere.

What does this mean for writers? It is a factor to consider. Can you sell your book or story to a large professional market, or do you need to seek out venues that accept unagented submissions or will consider a revised version of a work that other markets have turned down? Will the credit of passing the small press’s editorial gauntlet reflect well on you as a writer and open up new opportunities, or is it better off to self-publish and keep control of your work? The reputation of the press itself can play a big role. And there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer. There are certain stories written by certain writers at certain stages of their career that will benefit from being published by certain small presses, and there are factors that even the most careful research can’t uncover before a contract is signed. Weigh your options, research to avoid the predators, make your choices, and best of luck.

Brick Cave Media, the Challenge and Fun of a Small Press

A guest post by Robert Nelson

Brick Cave Media is a small publisher based in Mesa, AZ. One does not normally think of Mesa Arizona being hub for small publishing, but Brick Cave Media traces it’s roots back 23 years to the arrival of founder Bob Nelson and the start of a literary magazine called Anthology.

Today, Brick Cave Media represents 9 different authors across 2 states, with over 50 titles in publication.

While we function mostly as a publisher in the traditional sense, we benefit from having a small, agile team that can change direction quickly as needed. We have a passionate staff of 4 that wears all the hats of a full business, and a halo of editors, artists and others that support the Press’ efforts.

As a small press, our authors interact with each other, which we encourage, because we want them to be a source of encouragement and to share the opportunities that an indie author may not have alone. As a Press, we work to offer opportunities of scale, representation at events that indies may find daunting or financially challenging on their own and access to distribution opportunities that we can focus on while the author can continue to focus on writing.

A small press, the RIGHT small Press, can be a great vehicle for an author. We at Brick Cave tell every prospective author that there is nothing we do that you cannot do yourself, if you choose in invest the time and resources. That is not playing down us or any other small press, that’s an acknowledgement of the realities of what the last 25 years have done for the industry. Choose a small press based on what you want them to do for you, not for what you think you cannot do.

Brick Cave became a publisher through an interesting story. The business itself was founded in 2006 as a spoken word audio label, producing spoken word albums, and taking advantage of the MP3 revolution that occurred at the turn of the century. In 2008, the business added film company to it’s roster, as the company produced the feature film Sacrifice (available on Amazon).

In 2009, Author J.A. Giunta approached Brick Cave CEO Bob Nelson about publishing his fantasy novels. The two had worked together previously on Anthology literary magazine in 1994-1996. Because the Amazon Kindle platform had just debuted and there was a curiosity about how they could leverage the platform, Nelson agreed to publish Giunta and a deal was struck. In 2010, the Press added Sharon Skinner, and in 2011, started printing paperback editions of their books. In 2010, Brick Cave started making public appearances at local conventions (originally to promote Sacrifice, but eventually the books took over) and from there the business grew. In 2016, book sales accounted for 85% of Brick Cave’s annual revenue, and Brick Cave makes 12-15 appearances each year promoting new titles.

Originally, Brick Cave, because of it’s connections to the poetry non profit Anthology, was heavily poetry focused. To this day, Brick Cave maintains a strong roster of poets and release 1-2 titles a year. With the addition of J.A. Giunta and later Sharon Skinner and others, the Press expanded to include traditional fantasy, science fiction, and urban fantasy.

The future is bright for us. We have worked hard to, in a sense, grow up a little as a business, and put ourselves in a position to handle more books, and more authors. We are looking for smart, determined and creative authors that want to be a part of a larger story. We are working to build brand, so we are recognized well beyond our traditional borders. We are looking to get our titles in more places, our authors in more signings, and increase our profile.

As an author, if you are looking to use a small press, start with and examination of yourself, and make an honest list of the things you would like to keep control of and the things you would be willing to let someone else handle for you. Then profile the small presses that match you and your writing style, talk to strength in areas you want them to handle, and look like they would meet your expectations. Buy a book from them and read it. Reach out to them and ask for submission advice. Follow their guidelines. Be the model submitter that they can point out to others.

Also, understand that the majority of small presses are generally overworked, organizationally stressed, and financially limited. Keep your expectations in line with reality. If you start the relationship right, by researching and finding the best match for your style and your work, a small press can be a very powerful partner in a writer’s career.

Learn more about Brick Cave at https://brickcavemedia.com

Lessons Learned from Indie Publishing

Whipsaw PressI started writing over a dozen years ago, when indie publishing wasn’t really a viable option. The flood of services, tools, and channels available now is astonishing and exciting.

At first I didn’t care.

Like many new writers, I was convinced my first book was ‘The Next Big Thing’, and only a huge deal with a big traditional publisher would do.

Yeah, good luck with that.

My writing has improved since then, as has my understanding of what it means to publish, and what this journey really means. After logging my dozens and dozens of rejections, slogging through a really painful experience with an agent that wasted three years I could have been releasing books, and with the markets changing so much, I finally realized what I had to do.

Time to indie publish.

I love the fact that there are so many options today: traditional deals with big publishers, deals with small presses, pure indie publishing, and hybrid options. The market is changing, and we need to be open minded and flexible to keep up.

For me, it made sense to indie publish. I had several novels complete, and honestly that turned out to be a good thing. My writing improved a lot through those novels, and I’ve since gotten very good at rewrites and edits. They are your friend.

Set in StoneI released Set in Stone, book one of my fun YA fantasy series, The Petralist, in May of 2015. The past two years have been hectic and busy and fun. It’s quite a journey, and indie-publishing is not for the faint of heart, but it is very accessible for those willing to learn to wear a lot of hats. Here are a few of the top things I’ve learned indie-publishing:

  1. Quality first. Many people beat the drums of Publish Fast, and there is some truth to what they say. To build an audience, new writers can’t set a publishing schedule like George R.R. Martin. But most new authors are in a rush to get their book out, and that rush can lead to cutting corners. Don’t be one of those authors who spent so much energy to get a book to 90%, only to skip the effort to really finish it and make it amazing.
  2. A good editor is worth every penny. We may not have big budgets, but we all have blind spots. Don’t self-edit. Better to burn your manuscript over a fire. At least that way, you might get a S’More out of it. And don’t ask your cousin who once took a college English class to check it over, or ask your grandmother what she thinks. I write big books, so they’re expensive to edit, but it simply has to be done. You wouldn’t build a house, but skip all the finish work inside. Don’t do it to your book.
  3. Memory HunterInvest in a Good Cover. Everyone judges a book by its cover. Clip art or badly photoshopped images are a disservice to your book. There are many great places to get covers, and this is another item that is absolutely worth the investment.
  4. Indie publishing is a business. We all love sitting in a coffee shop or hiding in our closet with our laptops, typing away and bringing our stories to life. That’s the writing. We also have to edit, revise, manage social media connections, monitor finances, hire editors, cover designers, figure out marketing, schedule events, and much more. All those other aspects of publishing are business aspects. Learn the business and learn to treat your intellectual property as an item you are trying to sell, not as a piece of your soul.
  5. Learn Marketing. Those of us who aren’t marketing people usually hate or fear this word. Marketing is tough, but it’s important. Yes, the most important marketing we do, especially at first, is to write our next book. But that doesn’t mean we can’t begin learning other aspects of marketing. We do want to support ourselves at this one day, so we have to learn to sell.
  6. Write what you Love. If you don’t enjoy your story, readers won’t either. And by the time you finish rewriting and editing however many times, if you don’t love your story, you’ll end up hating it.
  7. Become part of the community. Many writers are introverts and we’re content to hide away with our laptops and work everything alone. Don’t. There is a thriving community of people involved in writing and publishing great stories, and I’ve found writers to be some of the nicest, most encouraging, and quick to share advice and experiences than just about any other group. Become part of this community. Learning together is a lot faster than trying to figure it out all alone, and it’s a lot more fun.
  8. Enjoy the journey. I set a very aggressive publishing schedule for myself when I plunged into indie publishing. It helped motivate me to stay focused, to press ahead through the steep learning curve, and get things done, but it also added a lot of stress on top of existing family, church, and day job responsibilities. I’ve had to remind myself to take a deep breath and look for ways to enjoy every day. This journey is long, sometimes arduous, but it can always be fun.

 

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank Morin
Rune Warrior coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers Urban Fantasy/Historical thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org