Doing Open Calls After Funding: Ethics, Anthologies, Kickstarter, and You

You may have noticed that I (as Alliteration Ink) am running a crowdfunded anthology called Streets of Shadows… and that the project inherently has an open call for submissions after the funding period.

You might have also noticed that Writer Beware recently wrote up a nice discussion of my crowdfunding policies… one of which included that I don’t prefer doing open calls after the crowdfunding period.

"So," Hypothetical You says, eyebrow pointed suspiciously, "What’s up?"

Which is a Very Good Question.

Aside from the obvious – I thought the concept was good, the already attached authors are ones I enjoy or have worked with, and I’ve been an admirer of Maurice and Jerry’s work for a while – that Very Good Question is also part of why I wanted to be involved with this project.

Let’s evaluate what I have done with this project against my own criteria:

A clearly stated minimum “funded” payrate and what payrate there will be if the project exceeds its funding goal.

Done. Payments will be at least the current SFWA pro rate, with a stretch goal of the new SFWA pro rate.

A clearly stated list of what options will be considered if the project does not successfully fund.

This is on the back end, but it boils down to: The authors still own any stories they’ve written, and we go back to the drawing board.

Contracts and Payments (the whole section)

Everything about contracts is the way I like it – I only have contracts with the Anthologists (Maurice and Jerry), and even that only comes into effect when the Kickstarter funds.

Backer Rewards

All rewards are being asked for on a volunteer basis only. Offered rewards are not tied to anything else (acceptance, payment, etc).

Campaign Backers

Contributors aren’t expected to back the project.

In such instances that an open call occurs after the successful completion of a crowdfunding campaign, the submissions editor(s) will not have access to the lists of backers, nor will the organizer of the campaign have access to the lists of submitters.

There’s at least one – and in some cases two – layers of separation between the backer list and the submissions. I’m handling the money and backer lists. I won’t share them with the editorial team until the table of contents is finalized. Maurice & Jerry are handling invited authors, and aren’t letting me tell them what submissions to accept or not. And then Maurice’s intern (hi!) is the one reading the open submissions. (I’m not naming him here because I forgot to check if he wants me to tell people who he is.)

There’s a clear statement telling potential submitters for the open call to read the crowdfunding policies. And the one direction that I’ve given the editorial team is to follow these two points:

  • There will be no preferential treatment toward current or future submissions based upon whether the submitter has backed a crowdfunded project. Executing or inciting such quid pro quo behavior is strictly forbidden. 
  • Should a submitter refer to their level of backing of the crowdfunding campaign in the submission, cover letter, or correspondence with the submission editor(s) prior to story acceptance or rejection, the submission will be summarily rejected.

So overall, I think it passes the "smell test". And that’s a good thing, because I really wanted to have an open call.

Whenever you announce an anthology, it’s fairly common to get asked if there will be an open call. Even if the anthology is explicitly closed. As many better people than I have said, one of the joys of being on the business side of publishing is finding and promoting new talent. Providing a place for that to happen is very important to me.

And so one of the things I want to do more of this year is to provide a place for open calls for submissions.

But ultimately, it comes back to my mission statement:

Alliteration Ink is designed to be a test bed for new strategies and methods that allow authors, publishers, and others in the industry to adapt and thrive in these changing times.

By doing this project – openly and transparently, even when it’s admitting my own mistakes – I hope that we can provide an example of "best practices" for others to follow.

And share some great stories with you all.


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