The Challenges Of Publishing Other People
One of the biggest challenges is resisting the temptation during the editing process to inject my own writing style. I had to learn to tell the difference between actual grammatical errors and what were merely style choices of an author. Everyone has their own way of writing, after all. This led to several discussions over different aspects of the stories we chose with Roger (the third owner of Storm Moon Press and my husband), K., and me over what was style and what was true error. It lengthened our timeline of editing from merely two weeks into almost two months.
At the same time, we had to bring the stories that were not our own into line with the general style and feel of what else we release. For instance, two of the anthology authors are from Britain, and their submissions included spelling and punctuation variations that are considered grammatically correct over there, but not in America. We needed to bring all the stories into the same grammar/punctuation scheme so there were no inconsistencies, and this took a great deal of time.
We also had to decide, since it is an erotic anthology, whether or not we were going to contest how genitals were referred to. I think this one was one of the more lengthy discussions, as K. and I felt the use of a word like ‘quim’ to reference the vagina made no sense, while Roger did point out lesbian fiction was not our sandbox and so we couldn’t know if this was a common reference we simply weren’t getting. In the end, we decided to not alter the words the authors chose to use during sexual scenes as it boiled down to a matter of style.
Publishing this anthology took weeks out of our writing schedule. It was a time consuming endeavor that didn’t stop at just editing. Artwork, layout, and marketing also devoured our free hours. When our typesetter sent back the initial proof PDF, it took another four days to comb through the proof to find any additional errors or changes. That was another four days we could have spent writing/publishing/researching our own material but was instead sunk into the anthology.
Our authors have been wonderful, though. They have been prompt in all aspects of the process. Contracts were returned quickly, edits were responded to each time they were sent out, and all the authors happily agreed to help promote the anthology to the best of their abilities. They’ve been the one smooth, pleasant part of this process, and we’ve been honored to work with them.
There was only one additional cost we had to foot when publishing an anthology over publishing our own work: author compensation. In this instance, we offered up to $100 per author for 10,000 words (final payout based on the edited word count), plus two hard copies of the anthology and one PDF copy. This meant up to $400 paid out in author compensation for the four authors we contracted with, and that was a lot of money for the budget. We have one year to make back the investment we spent on this anthology, and we don’t think we’ll make it. That’s all right. This was our first anthology and a vast learning experience.
Our subsequent anthologies (we have two coming out next year, one M/M and one F/F) have a higher payout for the author due to us increasing the length of the contract. This was to ensure we could make money off an anthology, though our anthologies are mainly to make a name for ourselves with other authors. We’d like to, eventually, publish the work of a small (very small) stable of authors in both LGBT and mainstream erotic fiction as well as select non-genre fiction. We will still always self-publish for ourselves, but we feel that does not mean we can’t publish other authors as well since there are many for whom self-publishing just is too much work and expense.
It is difficult to juggle the author/publisher/editor hats, but we manage it. I feel that Cast the Cards is an excellent anthology containing six great stories of erotic fiction with brilliant characters and compelling storylines. In the end, I feel the sacrifice of my own writing time was well worth it, and I hope people see and appreciate the effort we all put into its making.
S.L. Armstrong and K. Piet are the authors behind Storm Moon Press, LLC, an independent press that specializes in erotic fiction. S.L. has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, but K. Piet’s interest in writing only piqued once she met S.L. five years ago. They formed a lasting partnership, writing and running a publishing house together, and it brings them great satisfaction. You can find their works at Storm Moon Press’ website.
In terms of style versus grammar, I think that’s something writers have to make the distinction also in receiving a critique. Many critters tell the author to keep or use whatever they think is best in a critique, but many authors don’t take that advice to heart. It’s easy to shred a manuscript of personality after critters take it through the ringer. For example, some critters will go through and point out every single adverb as if the use of them is evil. 🙂 Too many adverbs can be distracting, while some are unnecessary. However, blindly going through a manuscript and ripping them out can bland a piece. Pick and choose.
Firstly, I’d like to thank Kait for having us here on her blog! It’s wonderful to have been able to include you on our blog tour! You were a pleasure to work with, and I hope we’ll be able to stop by here again in the future. ^_^
Secondly, in response to Reena Jacobs, I totally agree. There are times when you have to take critique with a grain of salt. In the case of adverbs, there are certainly times when using a different verb would negate the need for an adverb, but when it adds depth and doesn’t compromise the flow, then they’re acceptable. Finding an excellent editor who will allow you some stylistic liberties while also pointing out glaring errors or places where the manuscript could be tightened up to read more fluidly is the key. You’ve struck gold if you find someone like that!
Thanks for reading and commenting!
I enjoyed reading the post because I’ve discovered some new authors. I look forward in learning about you both, your works, and Storm Moon Press, LLC.