09 November 2014

Alliteration Ink Presents: The Kickstarter for NOT OUR KIND: TALES OF (NOT) BELONGING

Alliteration Ink Introduces Not Our Kind:  Tales of (Not) Belonging

This Kickstarter is to fund a genre-defying diverse collection of fantasy and sci-fi stories of cultures, their problems, and seeing life from a new point of view.  It's edited by Nayad Monroe, who previously edited the critically acclaimed What Fates Impose.

When you talk about outsiders, it's easy to think about that sense of isolation when you're not one of the "popular kids" in high school, when you're the new person on the job, when you stand out in a bad way.

But there's more than that.

There's the sense of wonder at a new, alien place. There's seeing everything you know through a new, different point of view.

These stories defy expectations and easy genre boundaries.

But if you want that sense of wonder and amazement when you first encountered speculative fiction, that idea that there is something different, something more just around the corner, just out of sight, that sense of coming home to the unfamiliar, then this is the book you want to read.

In twenty-four hours, we're over 15% of the way to our first goal - and future goals include more stories through an open call for submissions!

You can back the project at http://bit.ly/kicknotourkind and get this book - and some pretty spiffy extra backer rewards - for yourself!

Not Our Kind: Tales of (Not) Belonging - New Fiction Stories -- Kicktraq Mini

23 October 2014

How To Get Invited To Anthologies

With Not Our Kind in the funding phase (have you backed it yet?), friend of Alliteration Ink (and an author I've published before) Justin Swapp asked a very smart question on Facebook:
How can we find out about your upcoming anthologies while you are still looking for authors?
This is a good question, because I've never done a purely open-call anthology (yet).  There's always been a large "invitation" component, and few (if any) open submissions.

You probably know what an open call for submissions is;  usually with invitations, an editor (or more properly, anthologist) will invite authors they know, have worked with, or want to work with to submit stories for an upcoming anthology.

Usually the anthologist will ask somewhere around twice as many authors as they actually need - quite a few invariably have to decline for whatever reason, others may have to bow out, and a few may simply write a bad story.  But because you're (largely) working with professionals with a good track record, there are few bad surprises.

This can seem like it's an "Old Boy's Club" (and we know how I feel about those), but it is not.  This is a purely practical matter.

Reading open submissions (often called slush) is hard and tiring.  Developmental editing is hard and a lot of work.  It can be very rewarding... but it can also be a colossal time sink.  Many anthologists don't want to work with open submissions at all.

So what's an aspiring writer to do?

See what you can do about getting your work noticed by an editor or anthologist.  As a publisher, I leave nearly all aspects of story selection up to the anthologists and editors of anthologies, so e-mailing me directly to be in an anthology is not going to help much.

When you contact the anthologist - either by e-mail or at a convention - be polite, clear, grammatically correct (you would be surprised), and don't be pushy.

At Context for the last few years, we've had a flash fiction contest.  Several of the participants (and not just winners) were contacted afterward by myself or one of the anthologists I work with because we saw a sample of their work.   It was exactly this process that got me my first professional sale!

If you already have a professional contact with an anthologist or editor, it is okay to drop a single, polite email to the effect of "If you have any projects coming up or need a pinch-hitter for an anthology, please consider me."

The key - as with any such contact - is to be polite, formal, and not pushy.

I highly recommend Jennifer Brozek's Industry Talk (Amazon|B&N|Drive Thru Fiction) not just for those who wish to be anthologists, but if you want to better understand what anthologists are doing behind the scenes.

And, of course, you could always back Not Our Kind.  Not only do we have an already-stellar lineup of authors, but our first stretch goal is adding an open call for submissions!


22 October 2014

The difference between threats and boundaries.

BoundaryThere is a difference between a boundary and a threat - and when someone uses the two interchangeably, it says more about them than it does about the person setting the boundary.

Admittedly, at first glance they can look similar.  They're usually non-negotiable, and contain an if-then-else kind of statement. 

But the difference is super important:

It's all about whether the person in question is trying to project power over you, or maintaining their own power over their own actions and decisions.

For example, I have a respect policy as a publisher, and have signed John Scalzi's convention harassment pledge.  Those are things that are important to me both personally and professionally.

Do I have any authority to force an author or editor to follow my respect policy?  Not at all.  Multiple authors can - and repeatedly do - act in racist, sexist, homophobic, and outright hateful ways online and off.

But I have every authority to say that I will not be involved in business dealings with them until they get in line with my policies.  I have every authority to honestly answer why I am not working with that person.

Do I have any authority to force a convention to have an anti-harassment policy, or force them to enforce it?  Not at all.  A convention could decide to forego any kind of policy, or repeatedly fail to enforce it when it becomes inconvenient.

But I have every authority to say that I will not be involved with a convention which does not have an anti-harassment policy or will not enforce it.  I have every authority to honestly answer why I am not going to that convention.

If others whose views align with mine decide that they will take the same action, that is their choice. 1

If you view people deciding they aren't comfortable with your decisions and statements, or if you view policing their own boundaries and deciding what they're comfortable doing... If you view those actions as a threat...

...then that says far more about you than me.

1That's not a threat either. It goes both ways. Some people refuse to work with me (or have made derisive comments about me) because of my respect policy, and that doesn't bother me either.