Anthology Markets

I finally started keeping track of anthologies in a file instead of just writing them down in my calendar or bookmarking the link up in a special folder in my browser. While it’s true that I have at times written a complete short story in a few days, or occasionally in a few hours, I’ve discovered that this works best when you get a sudden spark of inspiration and can start furiously banging away on the story right off. Turning the calendar page and seeing that there’s a theme anthology with a deadline on Wednesday and trying to come up with an idea which fits the theme an then writing and polishing it to send in two and a half days later is another matter. [wry smile]

So, with some advance notice, there are seven anthologies with deadlines in mid- to late-May. (Not even close to comprehensive — these are just my publisher’s anthos, plus other calls I ran across and which interested me enough to jot down the info.)

Most are romance or erotica, but also listed are Sword and Sorceress 24 (Fantasy) and Catastrophia (SF/Horror).

[ETA NOTE: I’ve been getting a lot of hits on these posts, so if you’ve just wandered in off the internet, hi and welcome. 🙂 I do these posts every month, so click here to make sure you’re seeing the most recent one.]

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13 May 2009Pushy Little Bottoms Taste Test — Torquere
Publication date August 2009, submissions due 5/13/2009 (Topping from below? Demanding a good spanking RIGHT NOW? You bet. I want bossy little bottom boys! No whining allowed.)

Taste Tests are mini-anthologies consisting of three or more stories ranging from 3000-7000 words each for a total of 10000-20000 words. Monthly themes are posted on the Taste Test submission page, along with deadlines and links to our general submission guidelines. Authors may submit a single story to any open theme, or submit a set of stories as single author collection, suggesting their own theme.

15 May 2009Body Paint Toybox — Torquere
Like the Taste Tests, Toy Boxes are small collections of three to four stories ranging from 3000-7000 words each for a total of 10000-20000 words. We’ll post themes that we’d like to see, and authors can submit one story or a whole collection. Entire collections must center around a single toy box item.

15 May 2009Wrap Me Up – Erotic Holiday Tales — STARbooks
Do you like to sit on Santa’s lap? Are there eight things you wish you could do to your boyfriend during Hanukah? Does Kwanzaa give you the urge to commune with nature? Or, do you just like to write about people who get horny over the holidays?

There is no limit to the possibilities. Your stories can take place at the North Pole, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, or the Continent of Africa, just to name a few locales. Your characters may be Maccabees, Wise Men, Tribal Elders, Romans, Greeks, or Elves, just to give you a few ideas. Let your imagination roll and think outside the gift-wrapped box, and give us your hottest holiday story. Have fun and give our readers the gift that keeps on giving, so they come back for more.

15 May 2009Sword and Sorceress 24
Stories should be the type generally referred to as “sword and sorcery” and must have a strong female protagonist whom the reader will care about. See Sword & Sorceress 22 and Sword & Sorceress 23 (or 1-20) for examples. We do not want stories with explicit sex, gratuitous violence, or profanity. We are NOT a market for poetry. We are willing to consider stories set in modern times, but we won’t buy more than one or two of those for the anthology. We always want something short and funny for the last story.

Length: up to 9,000 words, with preference given to shorter stories. The longer a story is, the better it has to be. Long stories should be submitted early in the reading period.

20 May 2009BEST GAY ROMANCE 2010 — Cleis Press
For the sensual anthology series BEST GAY ROMANCE 2010 (Cleis Press, Winter 2009) I’m looking for short stories (maximum 6,000 words) that are as sweet as they are steamy, as emotive as they are erotic: fiction (or true stories) about two men (or, who knows, more) falling in love. The wooing and the winning, the blush of a crush, the details of a date, the rush of romance… If sex happens, that’s fine, but the emphasis in these stories should be on what happens on the way to ‘sexual congress’ – or what happens after it, happily ever after.Deadline: May 20, 2009. Submissions to BGR2010 [BGR2010@gmail.com]; please put BGR 2010 in the subject line. Original stories or work published from May 2008 to May 2009.

31 May 2009Catastrophia — Allen Ashley, PS Publishing
Catastrophia will be a collection of stories loosely themed around the theme of catastrophes, disasters and post-apocalyptic fiction. I will be looking for original, unpublished stories which deal in a modern manner with these classic SF- and Horror-based tropes.

31 May 2009Blood Fruit — QueeredFiction
Queer, dark, macabre tales of horror, (blood and gore and rotten fruits welcome) are sought by QUEEREDFICTION. Chill us with your horrifying, sensual tales of gay and lesbian terror. Your submission should be a short story between 4,000 and 10,000 words. We are seeking fiction with positive images of queer characters. We’re not looking for clichés. We do not want reprints. We are seeking first world rights for this anthology. For full details view the official guidelines. Queries welcome.

Angie

New Market

Holly Lisle is putting together a new sort of online magazine project based primarily around serials, although with some shorter one-shot stories too, and with issues grouped into “seasons.” She explains it better than I do. 🙂 Anyway, it’s called Rebel Tales, is starting off as an F&SF market, and she has the preliminary writer’s guidelines up.

The guidelines are worth reading even if you don’t plan to submit; she has a refreshingly blunt, take-no-prisoners attitude toward people who submit without following instructions, or without being able to write terribly well, or without knowing what SF or Fantasy actually are, or even what a story is. I got a few chuckles while reading.

Angie

Expectations

I’ve thought for a while that a big chunk of marketing (pimping, promoting, whatever you want to call it) is about managing expectations. Recently the universe has been dropping this concept onto my head like a series of anvils — in a review of a book which wasn’t quite what the reviewer was expecting, although she liked it anyway; in a couple of blog discussions about badly-researched historicals; and in a review I did recently for my publisher — so before I go completely comatose from the multiple concussions, I thought I should talk about it.

About twenty years ago, I was a huge Alan Dean Foster fan; I always looked for anything new by him when I browsed the SF/Fantasy shelves at the bookstore. One day I saw a new book of his called Maori. It was set in 19th century New Zealand, which I’d barely heard of at the time, and it sounded interesting. I’d read a few historical fantasies before and this one seemed new and different, so I bought it and read it. And all through the story I was waiting for the “fantasy” part to begin. And waiting, and waiting and waiting. After a few hundred pages I’d gotten kind of annoyed. After all, if this was a historical fantasy, then the “real” plotline probably couldn’t have begun until we actually, like, saw something magical, right? Well, the writer seemed to be taking a horribly long time to get on with it already, and then I got to the end and he never had.

Of course, it wasn’t a historical fantasy — it was straight historical fiction. It was a good historical, but it wasn’t what I’d expected, so I spent the entire time I was reading it waiting and waiting, getting more and more annoyed and confused, and despite its being a good book, I didn’t enjoy reading it because my expectations had been set up for a different experience.

My expectations had been based on a few things. First, it was Alan Dean Foster. I’d never known him to write anything before which wasn’t SF or fantasy, so it seemed reasonable that this was too. Second, it was shelved in the SF/Fantasy section of the bookstore, which is usually a pretty good hint as to a book’s genre. Third, the cover had the words “The epic historical fantasy of the year!” printed on it. So I don’t feel too bad about making this mistake. [wry smile]

In this case, a good book — and once I was finished, I could look back at the book and acknowledge that yes, it’d been a good story and well-written — was ruined for me because the marketing led me to expect oranges and then gave me carrots. They’re similar — they’re both vegetation, they’re the same color, and they can both be described as “sweet” — but when I’m set up to judge a product by its orange-ness, carrots are always going to fall short.

Some historical romance fans don’t know and don’t care that Arthurian-era Britons didn’t use forks to eat, or that Arthur’s knights wouldn’t have worn full plate armor. They’re just looking for a fun romp they can enjoy while kicking back with popcorn, they don’t want to think too much, and what’s fun for them is reading about two hot people having adventures and sex in cool costumes (and no, the women in that period didn’t wear hoopskirts either) and maybe a couple of sword fights. Too much historical authenticity can actually be a turn-off for these folks; they’ve gotten their ideas about what the Middle Ages or King Arthur’s Court are like from Hollywood and they don’t want to be slapped in the face with the grim, dirty, flea-ridden reality of it.

Other historical romance fans are history buffs, or even have degrees in the subject. Having your Regency lady wearing her gloves at an inappropriate time will have them rolling their eyes and writing snarky blog posts. Describing your character as a Florentine Guelph and then showing him cheering the Emperor (unless of course he’s trying to get close enough to slip that dagger between his ribs) would probably get your authorial persona burned in effigy. (And even without the flames, there’ll be more snarky blog posts.) To a dedicated history fan, details are important, and you always have to assume you have readers who know more than you do, so you need to do your research and be thorough about it, and careful to get things right. Perfection is unattainable, of course, but it should always be your goal if you want to satisfy this group of readers.

Both kinds of books have their audience; each kind is preferred by some people and rejected by others. This is good news for authors who like writing one or the other type, but only if you make it clear what you’re writing, so the readers who’d enjoy your book know that it is the kind they prefer. If you fool someone who likes rigorous historicals into buying your popcorn historical, you get their money that one time, but they’re left with a negative experience associated with your name. There’s a good chance they’ll never buy another one of your books, even if you later start writing rigorous historicals. And they might feel iffy about your publisher, too.

Which isn’t at all unfair, because much of the responsibility for marketing the book rests with the publisher, especially if it’s one of the larger New York houses. If you’re writing a popcorn historical and your publisher gives it serious art, and writes the cover copy to emphasize the sweep of historical events rather than the sex, adventure and humor which are its real strengths, the writer is pretty much hosed right along with the readers.

The problem isn’t always a matter of overt marketing, though. Some writers or publishers become known for certain things; if 90% of the books published under a given label have romance plots, then readers will come to expect romance from those books. Even if a book doesn’t have “The epic romance of the year!” printed on its cover [cough] if every other book a person has read by that writer or that publisher has been romantic, then they’ll probably expect the next one to be romantic too. If it’s not, then there’s a good chance that reader will be disappointed, even if the book was excellent for what it was. When this kind of exception to a rule — even an unspoken one — is made, it’s good for everyone, writer, readers and publishers alike, for the readers to have some way of knowing in advance just what they’re getting. If they’re set up for a genre romance and they don’t get one, they’re likely to be disappointed and annoyed. If they’re set up for a mystery or an adventure or whatever the book is, they’re more likely to enjoy the story because they’re not waiting and waiting for the romance while they read, or left disappointed at the end when the main characters shrug and wander apart.

If you’re selling carrots, make sure your sign says “CARROTS” in large, easily-read letters. Make it clear to the orange lovers that you’re not selling oranges, market specifically to people who love carrots instead, and your customers will be happy. If you want to tap into the orange-lover market, get some oranges to sell; don’t try to slip them carrots and hope for the best.

Which seems to be what Mr. Foster’s publisher tried to do, twenty years ago. They knew his main audience was SF and fantasy fans, so they put “Fantasy!” on the cover of Maori, and the bookstores put it on the SF/Fantasy shelves. It went out of print pretty quickly; I don’t know how well it sold, but I’ve never gotten the impression that it was a fan favorite. And that’s a shame, because it deserves to be a favorite of the kind of readers who are fans of historical novels. Even if some bookstores put a few copies over on the Historical shelves, chances are anyone who preferred straight historicals would’ve avoided it because if the “historical fantasy” text on the cover. Mr. Foster and his book were screwed from both sides.

Looking at a list of all his published books, I just realized that after I read Maori was when I backed away from Alan Dean Foster’s work. I still bought some of his books, but I was more likely to stick with series books I already knew I liked, and less likely to pick up his single-title books. He’d been on my buy-on-sight list before that point, and after that I no longer trusted that I’d always enjoy his work. I didn’t even consciously realize it at the time; it’s only now, looking at the timeline, that I see what I did and when. So whoever made the marketing decisions about Maori lost me as one of Mr. Foster’s raving fans, one of the people who bought everything with his name on it. After that, I was only a regular fan, someone who bought his books occasionally. I wonder whether Ace thinks getting my $4.50 for Maori was worth that loss?

What really annoys me is that if it’d been marketed as the historical novel it was, I’d probably have bought it anyway, enjoyed it, and kept buying all of Mr. Foster’s books. That’s my loss as well as theirs.

Angie

[ETA: comments closed because of spam.]

Loose Id to the Rescue

For anyone who hasn’t seen already, check out this post over on Treva2007 on Livejournal. Loose Id plans to bid on the contracts held by Triskelion, which is going through bankruptcy. There was a lot of worried blogging going on about what’d happen to the Triskelion authors (and other authors whose publisher had or is going under) since bankruptcy courts don’t recognize contract clauses which revert rights to an author if a publisher goes under.

Treva says:

If successful in their bid, Loose Id, LLC will release the
majority of contracts at no cost to the authors who entered into them.

In a few cases, new contracts will be extended to the author from Loose Id
in lieu of the Triskelion contracts. If an author chooses to reject the offer
made them, their contract will be released by Loose Id, at no cost to the
author.

This is incredibly cool and I think Loose Id deserves some major kudos, whether or not their bid is successful. If I ever get back to writing het, this publisher will be at the top of my submission list, ’cause you can’t beat working with truly good people.

Angie