Sunday, November 25, 2007

Anthology Submissions Tally: October

Our first month of reading has come and gone. Those who submitted stories to us during the month of October will be receiving notification of our editorial decisions regarding their submissions within the week.

Here's how the submissions boiled down for the month of October:

  • Total # of queries = 22
  • Total # of greenlighted queries = 21
  • Total number of actual submissions in October = 14

Disposition of submissions:

  • Accepted = 0
  • Rejected = 6
  • Held for second reading = 3
  • Revisions requested from authors = 5

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tips from the October Submissions...

  • Don’t write dialogue phonetically when trying to capture an accent.

  • This is a gay-themed horror anthology. We’re looking for horror tales with a strong queer subtext – not straight horror stories with a gay character or two thrown in to meet a quota.
  • Horror sometimes demands a suspension of belief – not a suspension of logic.
  • Read your dialogue aloud. If it sounds like something out of a poorly-scripted gay porn film, consider a screenwriting gig in the adult film industry.
  • In our follow-up email to your query, we direct you to some formatting guidelines. Be a peach and follow them?

Anatomy of a Process...

So you’ve written your Stoker-winning short story and sit poised with your finger over the “Send” button. Once you grant your masterpiece virtual release, your creation rests in our hands. But, did it even arrive in our Inbox? When will we read it? Will the rejections be short and sweet or long and angry, form or personal? Lots of questions, lots of unknowns.

Let’s demystify a bit, shall we?

On the story queries we’ve received to date, our average response time has been days – not weeks – in responding. Unless your pitch sounds blatantly like something in the science fiction/fantasy or mystery genres or another genre outside of what we’re looking for, we’re generally greenlighting most (hey, we're adventurous...). You receive an email welcoming you to send over your submission as a Word attachment with a promise that we’ll confirm receipt of your submission. And we always keep our promises.

Once we receive your submission and send you a quick confirmation, we log your submission on a monthly tracking sheet. Our reading schedule runs something like this: All submissions received up to and including the last day of a given month are slotted for reading and discussion by the 20th of the following month. For example, everything we received in our Inbox up to and including October 31st was read and individually considered by November 20th. Chad and I use a wildly clever evaluation tool on which we assign two codes; one with an overall impression score, the other our individual recommendation. Lots of room for comments.

Chad and I exchange our individual evaluation tools to compare and contrast. Any submissions on which we agree – both in terms of impression and recommendation – we take as a testament to our mystical editorial prowess and follow the mutually agreed upon disposition. To date, there hasn’t been one. In the majority of instances, we’ve each come away with a different feeling and analysis of the submission. So we discuss. And discuss. And discuss. Until we reach consensus on a recommendation: accept, pass, hold for a second reading, or request changes from the author. This occurs between the 20th and 25th of each month.

Between the 25th and 30th/31st of the month, the business of sending out communiqués to writers ensues. The acceptances will be short and sweet, with promises of contracts and payments and all that good stuff. The rejections will be accompanied by some degree of feedback as to why we’ve decided to pass. Time-consuming, yes. The right thing to do, yes. We’re writers, too. Do unto others…and that kind of thing.

If we request changes and offer to re-read later in the submission period, it’s because we found something promising in the premise, your writing, or how the alliteration of your first, last, and middle names would add a degree of literary whimsy to our TOC. Take the advice we’re offering and work it the best you can. If you think what we’re asking is a crock of manure, thank us politely and move on.

More maddening will be the emails stating that your story has made it through to a second read and that we’d like to mull it over a bit. Maddening because this is neither a “yes” nor a “no” and you’re stuck in literary limbo. Here’s a hint: if we’re asking to hold your submission for a subsequent reading, it’s because it’s 1) damn good and we need time to determine if the story fits into the larger context of the anthology or 2) a little edgy, a little experimental and we want to gnash our teeth on it some more. Seriously, though, we realize that time is money and that no writer (struggling or otherwise) wants a story held up indefinitely. Submission to us is not binding until the contracts are signed – writers are free to pull their story from consideration if they find a better/quicker/alternate home for it. All we ask is timely notification in this event so that we pull your story out of consideration. That said, the submission period wraps in the spring of next year – in the time it would take to find another market, submit to it, and wait 30, 60, 90 days for a response, you will in all probability hear back from us in that same timeframe.

Take a deep breath, be patient. Quality is not a race.

Anatomy of a Blog...

Why a blog, you ask?

  • Because the world needs another blog? No.
  • Because we have nothing better to do? Hardly.
  • Because submissions are down and we’re bored? Nope – business is healthy.
  • Because we’re here, we’re queer, and you’d better get used to it? Different day, different blog.
  • Because behind-the-scenes stuff is interesting? OK.
  • Because we have OCD and this is a great way of staying organized? Getting warmer.
  • Because communication is a good thing and will keep the emails down? Starting to sizzle.

We thought we’d create this blog to chronicle our adventures in anthology-land. We’ll be using this space to send out general updates to those who’ve submitted to us, summarize each month’s submission statistics in terms of queries, subs, acceptances, rejections and that kind of thing, post our general thoughts about what’s passing across our desks, and announcements regarding the anthology. Hopefully, along the way, folks will glean some insight into the background workings of putting a project like this together.

Maybe we’ll be mildly entertained. Maybe we’ll all learn a thing or two.

Birth of an Anthology...

Edited By: Vince A. Liaguno and Chad Helder

Minimum Length: 1,000 words
Maximum Length: 7,500 words

Dark Scribe Press is seeking short story submissions for an anthology of queer horror tales. We are looking for edgy, provocative dark genre fiction – horror and dark psychological suspense only. We are not interested in science fiction/fantasy or mystery for this anthology. We’re looking for stories about those terrors that populate the closets of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. Terrors can be of any shape, size, and theme – supernatural, psychopaths and slashers, vampires, werewolves, zombies, urban legends, ghosts, witchcraft, demons, and original horrors of any kind.

At Dark Scribe Press, we believe that horror is meant to unnerve, disquiet, and strike deeply at the darkest places in readers’ hearts. We believe that writers should never be restricted within the established genre limitations and should feel comfortable offering up their darkest tales. As the publisher, if we don’t like it or it’s not a right fit for a particular anthology, we’ll simply politely pass on the submission. Taboo and edgy subject matters are welcome if handled in a literary manner – nothing is off limits if well executed and compelling. Stories may include explicit sex and erotic elements if well-integrated into the tale itself – we are not looking for a subtle ghost story with a raunchy sex scene inserted into the middle of it. Please avoid clichés – unless you have a fresh queer twist or perspective to offer.

At the heart of all submissions must be a distinct queer theme running through the fabric of the story – stories that represent the harmful effects of repression, the manifestation of homophobia (both internal and external), childhood anxieties that run parallel to sexual orientation and the coming out process, and any other well-conceived and executed queer theme.

Email queries only. Please note some helpful email query guidelines here. As with all Dark Scribe Press calls for submissions, your query represents our first impression of you and your story. Avoid rattling off an abstract to us in an informal email – chances are we’ll pass. We’re looking to see that writers have given thought to their story and have the ability to articulate those thoughts.

Queries can be emailed to beginning October 1, 2007 and will be accepted through May 15, 2008. Response time to queries is 30-60 days. Once a query is greenlighted, the deadline for actual submissions is June 30, 2008. Response time to submissions is 30-60 days. Please put Query / Anthology in the subject line of all emails to help us efficiently route your email. Kindly note that queries with attachments will be deleted – do not send your story until you have queried us first.

Format guidelines will be emailed upon our response to your initial query.

Terms: Pays $0.05 (five cents) per word upon acceptance for FNASR.

Anthology is slated for 4th quarter 2008 publication – subject to change.

No simultaneous submissions and no reprints.