Where Do the Stories Go?
By Dawn Shea
A publisher wakes up one morning with an idea. An idea for an anthology. They think it is an exceptional idea. They decide to take the plunge and the gears of industry begin to turn. First an open call takes place. Writers find this open call and are intrigued by it. They spend weeks or months preparing and writing a story that they think will fit perfectly. Some have unsolicited stories saved for the right occasion as well as manuscripts formerly rejected that just need a home. They finally work up the nerve to submit it after reading and re-reading. These fine individuals hit the send button, and then what? You wait, right? Do you ever wonder what happens in those moments? The eternity between sending your precious story into the lair of the publisher and finally receiving an answer that showers you with joy but oftentimes not. Let me take you on a short journey. A journey where those stressful days are equally stressful for the publisher.
For us, open call day is so exciting. We are about to embark on a journey with many authors that we do not know and possibly some we do. We have the pleasure of reading some of the best and worst stories imaginable. As they roll in, we take our time savoring every word, picturing ourselves in the story. Usually within the first couple of paragraphs, we can figure out if this is a YES story. We also know if it is a NO story. Then there are the MAYBE stories. The ones that have potential but have a few things that are questionable. We place each story in its appropriate category. We have a minimum number in our head of how many we need in the anthology. We also have an alternate number of the maximum we can fit.
Now that we have a foundation of definite inclusions, we can determine how many more stories we need to fill in the book. Being in the maybe stack is not a knock or slight and perhaps is the hardest part in putting the anthology together. We read them all over again, we make lists, and graphs, and charts. Essentially, some we just have to pick apart. In the end it comes down to, does it encompass the theme of the anthology, does it have a beginning, middle and end (you would be surprised by how many do not), and does it flow well. Pretty much anything else, we can work with. Errors are easily correctable and human. I typically do not pay much attention to those. That is why we have editors, right? After much agonizing and indecision, we choose those final stories that round out our roster. We feel terrible we couldn’t choose everyone. We now have to go and give out good news to a few and bad news to twice as many.
Now the eternity is over. Authors have received their email, enclosed either good news or bad news, but dreaded is the moment. I just want you to know as an editor/publisher, I yearn for your story to make it. I am an author also, so I know how you feel. If your story wasn’t chosen, please try again at another open call. I hope it finds an amazing home, snuggled in the pages with some other great authors. Most of all, I promise that while your story is with D&T, it is cared for, given the utmost consideration, and respected for the time and effort that you put into it. Let’s be honest, our stories are like our children. We work hard to grow them, mold them, and make them the very best they can be. At D&T, we promise that we understand how important they are to you and we hope that you understand how important they are to us, too.
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