Friday, June 29, 2012

Scribings Vol 2 Is Here!

What better way to celebrate anthologies than to...

The Greater Portland Scribists present:

Journey into lands long lost with the Greater Portland Scribists. Delve into an Egyptian pyramid in a peculiar location. See what a Viking boy does when handed the executioner’s ax. Find out why sometimes it’s too late to learn from your mistakes. Watch a bookbinder as he achieves his dreams. See a civilization vanish through the eyes of a young girl.

Scribings Vol 2: Lost Civilizations features eight exciting stories that will take you on a trip through time and space and even through the fabric of reality itself. Scribings Vol 2 features stories from trusted veterans Richard Veysey, Cynthia Ravinski, and Jamie Alan Belanger, as well as stories from new members Christopher L. Weston and Timothy Lynch.

For information on how to buy a copy in any ereader format, please see:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Diagnosis Anthology

By W.D. Prescott

As a writer, I find anthologies invaluable. The reader in me finds them essential. But if you were to go to any publisher, you would find they tend to be hesitant with them. I know because I have an idea for an anthology and went around trying to get a feel for who could be interested and what I, as the editor, would need to do on my end. Let me tell you, if you thought being a writer was a tough job, look into being an anthology editor. Writing will seem like a cakewalk.

But why is there this near aversion to tomes devoted to diversity in literature? It's not just on the publisher's end, either. Writers and readers are giving up on anthologies just as e-books and self-publishing now allow better access to a wider breath of collections to choose. Let’s look at how an anthology comes together to find out.

Step 1 - The Idea: This is the real "make it or break it" part of the genesis. If you don't have a good idea, a gripping idea, it can be hard not only to sell it to readers, but to a publisher to publish it and writers to write the stories. If you look at those that sell well--relative to other anthologies--they are usually Year's Best of [insert genre(s)]. They work because the idea is simple and profitable: Take only the best of a genre for the last year and compile it all and sell them. This works for a publisher because there is little risk involved. All these stories have been published before. They tend to have a high concentration of well-known authors that can sell the book to their fan base. And they don't have to think of an idea for a sequel, they just wait for the next year's batch of tales. It's great for readers because, as it was mentioned, these are the most current stories that are considered the best by well-known editors in the business. A plethora of well-known authors haunt the pages, giving anyone new to the genre a place to start and find their way into it.

Any other kind of anthology becomes risky for a publisher because it involves stories that haven't been tested. They can't assume money will be made with any of those stories. If they can't make money, why make the book? But these are also where a lot of the innovation in a genre comes from. From sub-genre and niche sampler anthologies to character type anthologies to situational anthologies, these are we readers can delve into the creative chaos of any genre. When the submission call went out for Tainted: Tales of Terror and the Supernatural, the guidelines were simple: read one of 5 classic stories and write your own inspired by one of them. Inspired is a broad word for a writer. Is it a rewrite of the story? A continuation? A new story based on an element of the original? The answer was yes. Each author did what they wanted--I opted for the continuation--and eight stories were created through their experimentation and imagination. This not just a hallmark of anthologies, but the short form itself. The novel is great, but you are devoted to the ideas of that novel for hundreds of pages. Anthologies let you go through a whirlwind of permutations of one idea and the ideas spawned form them in the same time.

Step 2 - The Writers: Once the idea for the anthology is set, the hard part comes. Much of the reason that publishers are hesitant to publish anthologies is that writers are hesitant to write for them. The reason being is simple: What happens if the story is not accepted into the anthology? The quick answer is "send it into a magazine." If the story is exceptional, that might work. But the truth is that many of the anthologies have such a defining theme, it makes it hard to find magazine whose style will mesh with the theme of the story. Not only that, but a good editor will know of the most recent submission calls and will be looking for the rejects to be fill there inboxes. And just so it’s known, editors are not fond of anthology rejects. So, why would a writer want to spend the time on a story that may not get accepted and then have a harder time finding a home after rejection when they can write a novel or a short story specifically for a magazine during that time?

For a writer, new or established, it is something to promote. You hit a bump in your newest novel progress? Not sure how to start the sequel of the series? Things like this can stall the momentum of a writer and it can be hard to gain back anything lost--like readers--if it takes too long to publish something new. A short story in an anthology helps out in that you will have a new book to push as you recover on any lost time on your current project. And readers are more willing to pick up a book than a magazine--just look at how many magazine markets rise in fall in a 5 year period. For new writers, anthologies are a great way to start making a name for yourself. When it comes to publishing that first book with a press, small or large, having publishing credits on that query letter helps. Also, new writers really get the most out of it if there are well-known authors included, because they will have a fan base that will help sell the book and spreading the news about the anthology.

Step 3 - Selling the Anthology: You got the idea, you found writers that wrote great stories based on that idea, now how do you get it in the hands of readers? The better-known authors will help, but they don't get the same numbers of fans to buy anthologies as they do their books. Readers today are brought up on novels. The only time they are regularly exposed to short fiction is in school, and we all remember home much we enjoyed reading in school. And even those that get the anthology because one or more authors they like are in it, they may only read those stories, maybe a few of the others "just to see." And you can't blame them. The way they are sold to them is that the anthology itself is the product, not the stories inside.

Think of it in food terms. Would you ever go to the store and buy a bag of Doritos that have all the flavors combined in it? That is how anthologies are sold to people. Very rarely are you told anything about the stories in the anthology, just the theme of the collection and the authors inside. That's not how novels are sold. Anywhere you look: on the cover, author's website, promotional material, you have an idea of what's in those covers, just like you know what's in a box of cereal. An anthology should do the same thing. They have to sell like those variety packs of cereal you always wanted as a kid. You may only want 3 or 4 of them, but you still will eat the whole pack and enjoy them. Anthologies need to take the spotlight off the whole and focus each story inside. They have to be those little boxes of cereal that tempt the reader to wanting the whole thing. They will try it if they know what they are getting rather than betting on a mystery.

Anthologies have a place--a needed place--in literature. But it is going to take some reevaluations of the way we perceive anthologies for them to gain the place they deserve, from everyone in the circle of literary consumption and imagination.

W. D. Prescott is a good ol’ New Hampshire boy currently living in the swirling doom of New Jersey. He’s always been a little different. Loving writing and music equally, he dropped out of high school and pursued a B.A. in Creative Writing and Musical Theory and Composition at Bard College at Simon’s Rock. He went on to Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction Program for his M.A. and is returning to complete an M.F.A. He’s been published in Tainted: Tales of Terror and the Supernatural. Between that publication and now, he’s removed two organs from his body and replaced one. As he recovered, he started two projects from his bed: Eldritch Thoughts and The Non-Horror Reader Survey. Currently, he is the television columnist for

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Short Stories: The Red-Headed Stepchild of the Publishing World

By Angel Leigh McCoy

“Anthologies don’t sell well.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that.

"Publishers are reluctant to publish anthologies.” I’ve heard that one quite often as well.

The fact of the matter is that short story anthologies remain primarily in the domain of the indy publisher. Few major publishers want to hassle with splitting royalties among a dozen or more authors, not to mention all the other hassles that come along with dealing with multiple authors (mailing their copies to them alone can be time-intensive and expensive).

Editors like Ellen Datlow, doing her “Year’s Best” and other genre anthologies (which are anthologies of brilliant work) has managed to attract larger publishers at times, but not always.

What this means is that anthologies must be the love-child of a passionate editor or editors. These editors are often writers as well, and they sympathize with the challenge that short story writers face in today’s publishing environment: these writers don’t have many options for getting their stories out there!

“What about magazines?” you ask. Well, the competition is fierce to get into any kind of magazine or e-zine when it only has between two and ten slots per month or per quarter. You not only have to be a good writer, but your story has to hit the editor square on the forehead for it to be chosen. Often, it has to hit the reader, then the editor, then the editor’s partners square on all their foreheads.

What all this does is it reduces the amount of money that writers can make with their short stories. As a result, short stories are often seen as fitting only in the practice arena, or the public relations arena, or the I-had-a-quirky-idea-and-just-had-to-get-it-on-paper arena. Most writers turn their careers toward writing novels, which is where the money is.

It’s a downward spiral. Indy publishers can’t pay as much as the big publishers, can’t promote as big, and often don’t have the same distribution opportunities. So, short story writers get paid less.

However, I believe short stories are on the rise again. As people’s lives get busier and busier, a short story is often just the right size to fit into a busy schedule. Now, we just have to figure out how to get writers paid more so they will find time to write those amazing stories they have inside them.

With our Deep Cuts anthology, we’re hoping we’ve found a way around that. We’re not the first anthology to use Kickstarter for funding, but we are—to my knowledge—the first to use it to supplement funding on a project that is already paying what are considered “professional rates.”

If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, let me give you the brief run-down. People post their artistic projects there and ask for a few bucks from folks to fund it. In exchange, the folks get goodies (usually a pre-order plus other awesome things). The more you pledge, the more you get. And you don’t have to pay anything if the Kickstarter project doesn’t hit its goal. Thus, it’s democracy in action. If enough people want the project to take off, then it will. If not, then it won’t, and no one pays a dime. Many people giving a little bit each adds up, and soon, at no great burden to anyone, the artistic project is a go! And theoretically, the world’s a better place for it.

Using Kickstarter to help fund anthologies is a great way to shift the balance, to get more money into the short story stream, and to work toward making it a more respected and financially viable art form. It’s revolutionary, and I fully expect to see more and more anthology projects using crowd-funding.

By pledging, you’re pre-ordering your copy of the book, plus purchasing various other goodies, in advance of the publication. You’re taking the role of a patron of the arts as well, putting your money to help starving writers and artists who just need a little different cash flow to see their dreams come to life.

We are currently accepting submissions of horror stories for our Deep Cuts anthology (submission guidelines). We’re paying 5c/word plus royalties, but then we’re also doing our Kickstarter, and hoping that people will pledge to pre-order a copy of the book so that we can pay our writers more for their hard work.

Please do submit a short story to Deep Cuts:

And, please, check out and pledge to our Kickstarter here.

Angel Leigh McCoy (SFWA & HWA member) writes horror, dark fantasy, and doompunk. Her fiction has appeared in numerous media, and in 2011, her novelette “Charlie Darwin, or the Trine of 1809″ was released by Nevermet Press. She also had stories appear in Strange Aeons, Necrotic Tissue, Beast Within 2, Fear of the Dark, and Growing Dread: Biopunk Visions, among others.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Sorry State of the Anthology Market

(Reposted from 4/17/12 for Anthology Celebration)

An•THOL•o•gy--noun, English. A collection of selected literary pieces or passages or works of art or music. (Merriam Webster)

Do you have a shelf for them? A section for them?
Well they aren’t just for English class, you know!

This is why we love them:
• Sample many authors for the price of one book
• You are bound to like at least one story in the collection
• Read many stories about your favorite topics/subjects
• In a one-author anthology, find many doses of your favorite authors talent
• One book, with many quick, one-sit reads-perfect for the busy person
• Short stories: Complete meaningful story in one compact telling
• You can support many authors at the same time by buying one book :)
• A lot of new talent is discovered in anthologies featuring big names
• Year’s Best compilations contain the cream of the annual crop in one genre

Anthologies, single and multiple author, do seem to be a dying breed. Yet, they are a magnificent creature in the menagerie of the bookshelf (virtual or no).

Last year thousands of Anthologies were published. A quick search on Amazon showed that few had a full 5 star rating, and most had fewer than 20 reviews (A book needs to have 25 reviews on Amazon to begin getting pushed automatically.). Sad times in book land.

Most of anthologies were romance/erotica and horror collections. I am led to believe that these genres simply have an audience for anthologies. So these readers get it, why only them? I don’t think that these are the only readers who will like anthologies. Many readers don’t give anthologies a chance, and are missing out.

Here’s an example. The actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt edited an anthology last year. At the time of writing this, fewer than 83 people “like” it on Amazon and there were 27 reviews. It’s only available in hardcover though... The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1. Even so, this anthology is not doing so well compared to other books “written” by celebrities about their own lives.

So, go check out an anthology already.

Here are the GPS picks if you need some suggestions:

Cindy’s Recommendations
Way of the Wizard ed. John Joseph Adams
Tales before Tolkien ed. Douglas A. Anderson
The Fairy Reel eds. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Scribings Vol. 1 Wait, how’d that get in there? Ooops. Oh well...

Jamie’s Recommendations
The Ultimate Cyberpunk ed. Pat Cadigan
And all six books in the Dragonlance Tales series

Chris’ Recommendations

If you still can’t find something you like, you can search Wikipedia for your favorite author and see what anthologies he/she is published in. You may get to read a story you never knew existed, and possibly discover new authors at the same time.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

An Anthology Celebration

A celebration? For anthologies? you say. Come on, even anthologies need a little love and support!

Anthologies are an odd thing in the publishing world. They aren't like a book, they aren't like a magazine.

New authors strive to be included in them, popular authors are begged to submit work for them, crazy people choose to edit them. Sales figures show that few copies of these odd collections are sold. Readers claim that they don't like/buy them.

So why do they keep coming out?

Maybe some of the posts we will feature coming up will help us think on this. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fireteam Zulu - Jamie's second novel

Today, Jamie released his second novel, Fireteam Zulu. Set in the Terran Shift universe, this genre-blending novel will introduce you to a group of ex-marines who are the people's last line of defense in the final frontier.

The year is 2254. Humanity has expanded into our solar system - colonizing the moon, Mars, Phobos, Deimos, and several asteroids. We have space stations and secret military bases. But we've spread too far, too fast, and the military cannot adequately police the solar system. Many hopeful colonists are preyed upon by pirates who take what they can with little opposition.

Fireteam Zulu is a group of ex-marines who band together to help those people, hunting down pirates wherever they can find them. Then one day they discover that they are being hunted.

Fireteam Zulu is available now at Smashwords and CreateSpace. Other stores will have the book soon.