Monday, July 6, 2009

How I Handled The Submissions

For those of you interested in the submissions for the first issue of Emerald Tales and how I handled them, here it is. A run down on what I did with your babies. I tortured them mercilessly, then tossed them to the wolves, the ones that survived that were accepted. ... Just kidding.

It was a lot harder to choose which stories to include than I anticipated. I thought I was going to end up with a lot of garbage and only a few really good stories, instead I ended up with a lot of great stories and no trash. *headdesk* There were a handful of really great stories that I thoroughly enjoyed and had absolutely nothing "wrong" with them, but I had to pass on because I didn't have enough room to print them all. *sad face*

Except for those that came in the last two days before the deadline, when I received a submission, I sent a reply to the person telling them that I had received it and when they could expect an answer from me about it and when to enquire if they hadn't heard anything one way or the other. Emails get lost, they get deleted, this way the author knew that I got it and when to expect a reply from me and what to do if they don't hear from me. (I have inadvertently deleted a submission. Fortunately, I was able to rescue it. )

Then I read the submission and placed it one of two folders, "maybe" and "maybe not". That was my first impression of the story.

After I received all the submissions and the deadline had past, I read through all the "maybe nots" again to see if I still felt that way and shifted any that I had changed my mind about into the "maybe" folder.

Those that ended up in the "maybe not" folder, the only thing "wrong" with them that I could see was that they needed to be beta-read. I've beta-read for three years now, I can usually tell when a story has been polished by an author, but not gotten feedback from others. Writers, if you don't have any beta-readers, get some. Now. Join a writer's forum or a real life writer's group. If the first forum you join doesn't work for you, find another, keep looking until you find a group that you connect with. With the internet, it is easier than it used to be to find a good writer's group.

So, now I am working with the "maybe"s folder. There were thirty (30) stories in that folder. I only planned on purchasing the rights for six or seven from different genres. So, I sorted them into their genres. I'll just pick the best one out of each genre and I'll be done. Piece of cake, right? ... Wrong ... It's like a grandparent of thirty being asked which is their favorite grandchild ... *headdesk*

I tried using just one criteria for making my selection. That didn't work. What I ended up doing is coming up with a score sheet for each of those thirty stories and rating them in six different areas then totaling the score. Was that enough to pick the top six or seven from different genres? ... No ... *headdesk*

Surprisingly enough the top of the scale was heavily weighted with Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and horror. A month ago, I would have told you that the Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Horror stories would have been on the bottom. I love reading Fantasy, but I am frustrated as all get out finding published Fantasy authors that I enjoy reading. And, I read a lot.

Anyway, picking the top six or seven was not going to give me the mix of genres that I was looking for. So, I ended up picking the top one in each genre plus one that even though it scored a bit lower just has to be in the regular edition. So, eight stories for the regular edition.

I had so many Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal stories that were great that I decided that I will also issue a special edition, a Sci-i, Fantasy, Horror edition of "Follow the Butterflies" on August 15. Two out of each genre.

And I still had to pass on some really great stories. Basically, the only difference between them and the ones I accepted was how well I thought the story fit the theme.

I'll be honest, there was one point when I considered going "eenie meenie miney moe" to pick the stories to accept ... What? ... It would have been almost as fair.

So, there you have it. I planned on maybe getting six or seven great stories, I ended up with sixteen and a bunch more that I had to pass on. I'm drinking tequila now to soothe the pain of having to pass on some of those great ones. Why can't I win the lottery and have lots of money to buy great stories?

I do want to thank everyone who submitted a story to "Emerald Tales." The breadth of human creativity always blows me away. I was amazed to see what all of you came up with ... Amazing ... Simply amazing ... And every one of you owns a piece of that. *smile*


  1. I really like seeing posts on the various stages of how you handle submissions and prepare for the first issue of Emerald Tales and everything that goes into it! :) Fascinating insight, thanks.

    I'm greatly looking forward to reading the issue now!


  2. Wow. That was a lot. But hey - congrats on making the decisions on the first issue of Emerald Tales! Congrats, Diana!

  3. Like Merc said, it's great seeing the processes involved.

    Can't wait to read it either! :-)


  4. Nice to see your process. I'm glad you didn't go with eenie meenie miney moe, I always fail at that game.

  5. It's is nice to read about the selection process. Writers like myself do wonder.

    Jacqueline Seewald
    THE DROWNING POOL, Five Star/Gale 2009
    THE INFERNO COLLECTION, Five Star hardcover, Wheeler large print

  6. This was fascinating to read. I love the behind the scenes stuff! It also helps us as writers to see how things work on the other end. :)


  7. I'd opt for the tequila, Diana, and use small font for all 30 grandchildren.