Sunday, January 10, 2016

Week in Review 1/10/2016

Welcome to the week that was.

In last week's review
Jennifer R. Donohue asked:
Actually, on the topic of newsletters/reminders/what have you, it would probably benefit me to find out what newsletter exactly lets everybody know about PitMad and SFFPit and all that nonsense, because I have literally always heard about it day of, if not day after. And of course I hadn't worked on my twitter pitch yet for any of my finished novels, no, that would make too much sense.

I don't know the answer to that since I don't pay any attention to either, but I'm sure one of our readers will know. Readers?

The Sleepy One continued our conversation about blogs used as website:
"The biggest problem with using a blog as a website is that a blog has time stamps."

You can set up Wordpress to have a static template as your home page versus having your blog as a landing page. So it looks like a website and you won't have time stamps on your home page. You can create as many pages as you'd like in addition to your static home page and blog page (which you can name whatever you'd like--like news--so it doesn't look like a blog you don't update).

One thing that exasperates me to no end on blogs is the lack of date stamps! Posts from 2013 that have become outdated … no way to tell.

Yes there are ways to fix this, and set comments to stun off, but surely it's just easier to have a website as a website and a blog as a blog?

In the end it only matters that you've got some sort of designated space in Cyberia where you can be found.

Julie M. Weathers said:
I'm setting up a separate email account for strictly business this year. The one I have is professional sounding, but I have been hacked a couple of times and had agents email me to ask if I sent them something. That is not a good situation. Setting up a separate account just seems like a good idea. Less chance of accidentally spamming agents.

Oh my godiva yes! Have an email account you don't use for anything but your professional stuff. MUCH less chance of it being hacked if it's not the same email you use to sign up for the Lettuce and Kale Digest Review.

April asked
How necessary is it that my Web site is my name? Like or whatever?

Someone's already staked their claim on my name's Web site, even though they aren't doing anything with it (it's basically blank with some "if this is your page..." text). I've been waiting for years to snatch it up when they forget to renew it or whatever, but no dice. I used to own the .net of my name, but people would always get confused and go to the .com that I didn't own and tell me my site is broken. :/

Right now I have a short phrase as my url (I'm too embarrassed to link to it right now, I need to work on it), but it doesn't have my name in it. Is that a big no-no as a writer hoping to get noticed?

Well, there's this
Bill Cameron's URL uses a dash:

Patrick Lee's URL adds fiction to his name:

Andrew Grant's URL adds books to his name:

Robin Becker's URL adds Z (as in Zombie!) to her name :

Jenz had a very good point about buying domain names:
Tip: if you do a domain name search through a host or domain registrar, and you don't buy it right away, someone else will. Vultures watch for that and buy up names that people are searching in the hopes of getting you to pay them extra to get it back. Don't search if you aren't ready to buy, and once you find it, buy it.

On Monday I was on my soapbox about ineffective twitter promotion

E.M. Goldsmith asked
Is Twitter even effective for promotion? 

As part of more than just a  series of tweets about your book, yes.

Lucie Witt answered:
Reading the comments and looking at my bookshelf. Realizing over the past two years most of the new authors whose books have found a warm, cozy home on my shelf I discovered through twitter.

Not one of them sent me a promo tweet, though. Most were just authentically themselves, I thought they were cool/funny/smart people, and I decided to check out their books.

That said, someone I think is cool/smart/funny on Twitter would definitely get special consideration if they sent me a tweet akin to Janet's revised tweet above.

Everyone else's promo tweets generally get ignored. I never follow back writers who only tweet promotional stuff, no matter how much I might actually like the author.

brianrschwarz noted:
For some reason, when I look at the twitter icon on the left bar of the blog, the "follow Janet Reid" is in French. The French word for follow is "Suivre", which looks an awful lot like the english word "Survive" when my eyes attempt to convert a French word on a mostly English page (with some spattering in Carkoonian) back to English, so I always read this as Survive @Janet_Reid. And, quite frankly, this is hilarious.
 Hilarious? My intimidation tactics are failing miserably. I better go refuel my Hello Kitty flame thrower.

kdjames said
Twitter used to be a lot more fun. Now it's mostly rage and promo, and I spend less time there (more time writing, yay!). Janet was actually one of the first people to talk to me on twitter when I joined. Someone retweeted something of hers and I thought she was funny, so I followed and tweeted to her. It was late at night and she was still in the office, drinking scotch and having an impromptu dance party. Or so she said. I suspect she was actually just taking a quick break from crushing hopes and dreams, as sharks do.

I agree. Rage and promo seems to be most of it. I'm on Twitter much less these days, but it's still not something writers can just blithely ignore.

Kae Ridwyn asked:
How do you know if the twitter account that follows you is a real person or a bot? And another related question: What should you do about the bot followers: Block them? Report them? Ignore them? What is best?

We've traveled into unknown territory for me here. I don't pay any attention to that stuff. If someone annoys me I block them. If someone spams me with "buy my book" and it's clear they're doing this a lot (I look at their recent twitter feed) I report them as spam.  Other than that, I just tweet.

roadkills-r-us cracked me up with this:
Since you asked, I have a question!

I have a new book, and I want it to get popular. Should I send you a tweet about that at 2AM or 5:34AM, which is when your email showed up in my inbox? I'm thinking I should just have the book delivered to your door at 2AM. That way you can read it. If you like it, it helps keep you awake until 5:34AM when you send emails. If it's boring, you get some much needed shark sleep.

That was the takeaway, right?

-Anxious in Austin

P.S. I remembered how much you like Italics, so I threw some in!

Tuesday was a checklist for who should be on your mailing list, and more importantly who should NOT.

kd james had a very important point:
I'm in agreement with items 1 and 2 on this list.

Items 3-6 make me feel stabby. I'm not prepared to say this is bad advice, exactly. It makes sense and I have a good deal of respect for Janet's experience on this topic. But so help me, if every writer I ever met at a conference or with whom I have a personal connection or who belongs to the same groups I do or who reads my blog starts sending me email every time they publish a new book . . . I'm gonna need bail money.

I'll just reiterate the advice to think like a reader and give a good deal of consideration to how you'd react to being on the receiving end. If you do decide to send email to people referenced in 3-6, tailor that email so it's short and sweet and doesn't go on for a thousand words of chatty "news," and I might consider aiming for something other than your jugular.

I should have made that much more clear. You get to email those folks on 3-6 exactly once, and yes yes yes, it needs to be VERY short.

Dave Bridger had a alternative to MailChimp (which many of you found not very intuitive):
I found MailChimp a bit head scratchy too, so started using its little sister TinyLetter. Zero bells and whistles, but I don't need things like autoresponders. For now, at any rate. It's intuitive and nicely minimalist. And free. I recommend it.

Her Grace, The Duchess of Kneale said:
2. Since then, not a single name has signed up. I believed it was bad manners to add people to your mailing list if they hadn't specifically requested it. Am I incorrect?

3. I hate those little pop-up windows that beg you to sign up for someone's newsletter. Yet when I bemoaned that to a fellow author, she shared my misery... and her conversion to the dark side. She said that ever since she put up that stupid little pop-upon her web site, her mailing list more than doubled. She also swears by the power of her mailing list.

4. I am not convinced. Until I can actually get a mailing list, I'm having a hard time seeing its value. But how do I create a mailing list without offending people?

5. I vote Julie M Weathers be made exempt from the three-post limit rule.

6. I'm really enjoying these topics on promotion. I've learned a lot and am currently putting much of this advice to good use, as I've got a book out in about three weeks. Hoping for more on this topic.

2. Yes.
3. Yup.
4. See #3
5. I agree
6. Since you've not provided us with a link or title, how are we going to buy it?

On Wednesday we discussed the perils of being in a poorly published anthology while you are querying a project

Colin Smith asked:
Do anthology opportunities come to you based on work you've done (e.g., "Loved that article on your blog about kale farming. Care to write an chapter for my upcoming kale anthology?"), or do you hunt them down? If the latter, what are good ways to do this?

All of the above. Some anthologies like "Best of" are by invite only. Some that are edited by well known anthologists such as Ellen Datlow are also invite only. Some are by submission and invitation, such as the last two Bouchercon anthologies. "Calls for submissions" are likely announced but I don't know where. Our commenters will!

Or as the Duchess of Kneale put it so well:
There's invitation-only anthologies, hybrid anthologies, and open call anthologies. The open calls' guidelines are easily found by a yellow-belt in Google Fu.

E.M. Goldsmith asked:
So, say you are a big name writer with a proper shark approved sort of agent, and someone invites you to contribute a short story or chapter to an anthology, would you (writer) refer the requesting person to the agent to negotiate for the one of x number of stories/ chapters in theoretical anthology?

It depends on the client. I review all contracts signed by clients so as to keep them out of hot water, but that's not an industry standard.

Lisa Bodenheim said:
I had a poem published in an anthology back in the predigital age which I found via an advertisement and, of course, I had to buy the book in order to get my poem published for free.

Ah yes, pay to play. Those are the anthologies that DON'T count as a pub credit. They are simply ways for people to put your money in their pocket. Even the most charitable of anthologies (such as the Bouchercon anthology) give copies to those who are selected for contribution.

Colin Smith asked:
Let's say I get a story published in SciFi Stories Monthly, and a story published in Horror Nasties Quarterly, and a story published in AHMM (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Mag). I then query you with my mystery novel.

Question: Do I only mention my AHMM story, or do I mention all three?

Follow-up Question: Even if I don't mention the other two, the chances are your Google super powers would soon discover them. Would the multiple published genres bother you, or would you only care about the novel submitted? I'm guessing it wouldn't bother you, but I've been wrong before... :)

Here's where personalizing a query is a good idea. For me saying "I've had several short stories published in magazines including AHMM" is a positive thing. You don't need to mention where the other ones were. For OTHER agents SFSM or HNQ might be more persuasive depending on what novel you're querying.

And let's all remember, we're not googling to assemble a list to trip you up. We're mostly googling just to get a sense of what you're like. If you're not crazy, and you don't have sixteen self-published books for sale (that you neglected to mention in the query) one of which is this novel you're querying for, it's all good.

Madeline Mora-Summonte asked:
A question for Janet - I was under the impression that a number of those big "Best of" anthologies are made up of stories already published. How do those anthology editors decide what markets, what magazines, etc to look at in the first place in order to find the stories?

Yes, the Best Of anthologies are of previously published work. I don't know for sure how the pieces are selected. My guess is that the magazines send in their idea of the best work they've published that year, and that the working editor (not the celebrity editor) does a whole lot of research and reading too. 

If what you're asking is whether authors send work to the Best of editors, the answer is I don't think so. I've never done it.

Janice Grinyer asked:
They suggested I write an article concerning wildfire on a personal basis/experience and submit it to certain magazines for publication. This way I would be able to add these caveats to my proposal, strengthening my writer's credentials. The problem is it would take time, postponing querying. As with all things, the question is, "Is this the right thing to do?" 

It won't hurt you to have a writing credit, but those big glossies are hard to crack, and often use writers they know. There's a Writers Guide to Magazine submissions that might give you some guidance here.

The question is will it help you enough to compensate for the time it will take from other things (economics majors call this opportunity cost.)  It's hard for me to assess that. What I do know is writing ONE article isn't as helpful to your writing career as having a portfolio of them. Having a portfolio of published articles means you've worked at it consistently for at least a couple years. 

You do not need writing credits for a novel. You do not need to have been published before at ALL. You're the only one who can calculate where you want to spend your time. The only thing I can tell you is that querying for articles is like querying for a novel, only faster. There's no slam dunk about it at all.

dianastaresinicdeane asked:
I have a serious question: do people read/buy anthologies? I ask this because after several years of working in a library, I found that we regularly withdrew anthologies from the collection because they never circulated, no matter how much we promoted them. Perhaps it was just our population of readers?

That's very interesting to hear! The two anthologies I know most about (Bouchercon 2014 and Bouchercon 2015) were mostly sold to mystery readers at Bouchercon itself. Libraries could certainly buy it if they chose to but it was a trade paper edition which I know libraries don't favor, and it may not be the best book to add to a collection in terms of collection management.

But, I love those anthologies and I hope the people who bought them will too! You can still get them at Amazon (all proceeds benefit the Long Beach library system)

On Thursday we discussed ethnicity and pen names. As you might imagine, it generated the most comments of any blog post this week.

Lisa Bodenheim made a very good point:
Diversity is important. I think another part of the problem is where books are shelved in bookstores. One young African American woman commented elsewhere that she writes romances and some bookstores shelve African American romance books on the African American shelves rather than the romance shelves.
This affects selling and visibility to the general public. 

I don't think I've ever sought out the African American shelf in a bookstore despite my long standing interest in African history and African writers. As you might imagine, my first stop is crime, my second stop is fiction, my third stop is history. By then, I've found something to buy. Clearly I need to branch out.

Gimme made a point that my word choice may not have been the best:
That white guy pretending to be Chinese was seriously offensive, regardless of the reason for or effectiveness of his ploy. I adore your blog, Ms. Reid, and have for many years, but it's the epitome of white privilege to find the whole situation "hilarious" instead of a hurtful slap in the face. 

I do find it absurd (as in laughing in disbelief) that someone thinks assuming a Chinese name will get them more attention, when your entire blog comment above reinforces that prejudice is alive and evil in the world.

I read Sherman Alexie's blog post on the situation, and my sense of it is that he WAS trying to include more underrepresented voices in his Best Of anthology. He was Not Happy to discover this "colonial theft."

And the reason he knew about it? The poet outed himself. Even he knew that this was going to be a Big Hairy Deal.

Here's why this situation is different from the one our Questioner has: This is our questioner's pen name, not a name she's purposely chosen to subvert the "politically correct poetry business." In fact, she's worried about her name being misinterpreted.

I think motivation matters here. 

And if you read the entire article you'll see that Sherman Alexie, even knowing of the 'colonial theft' chose to keep the poem.

It's a very interesting article, and it's clear there are no easy answers here.

And in the end, notice Sherman Alexie's first 11 winnowing factors are mostly concerned with not favoring people he knows. THAT'S actually the most revelatory thing here. Publishing is an insider business. It's easier to be published if agents and editors know you. There's a reason a lot of authors have "used to work at Publishing Company" in their author bio. And publishing is godawful at hiring diversely. 

We ran a crackerjack intern program at FinePrint for several years. The people who came through our program went on to get publishing jobs. Our placement rate was close to 100% for people who elected to stay in publishing.  And by and large, those faces were white. We advertised on, a website that is available to anyone. Yet, our applicants were white. And we had so many of them we didn't really look elsewhere. 

I don't know how to solve that problem. If anyone has any ideas, let me know.

E.M.Goldsmith said
People make a lot of odd assumptions about me based on my name

And I think that's exactly the problem here. It's the making assumptions. That was the point I tried to make about assumptions being the problem of the assumer. Yet it's true that assumptions do create problems for the other person as well as Gimme points out.

I love how this woman just skewered a man who was rude about her name:

And Adib Khorram from Kansas City linked us to this, which also just cracked me up:

And Lucie Witt makes an excellent point
I think we have to be careful with the "I just want good books" reasoning. It is undoubtedly true, but can sometimes unintentionally bury the problem - people of color are writing great books, but those books aren't making it into the shelves at the same rates. When they do, they often aren't treated the same by bookstores, publicists, etc. THAT is what we need to fix.

I found Colin Smith's statement very interesting:
One of the things Stephen King harps on repeatedly in ON WRITING is "telling the truth" and being "honest." To me, that means if your novel is set in a middle class neighborhood in the 1960s, your characters will undoubtedly be white. To put a black family in that situation for any reason that has nothing to do with story would NOT be telling the truth. And that story reason ought to reflect the reality of middle class America in the 1960s, and not try to superimpose 21st century ideas, just to be "diverse" or PC. If you're going to tell it, tell it like it is/was.

Because of course there was a thriving  black middle class in the 60's. The reason you don't think there was, or that a black family living in suburbia IS the story is cause you don't know about it. And that's cause the black middle class was invisible to white America.  Black families certainly weren't on television. The 70's sitcoms with black actors weren't about the middle class. It's not till you get to the Huxtables in the 80s that you have the black middle class on TV. And yet, black people have been going to college, owning homes, entering professions (in other words, doing all those middle class things) for more than 100 years.

This is not a new problem. It took a lot of activism to get "women's topics" legitimized in history departments as suitable for research and study. Even now kids get taught about big male-dominated events much more than "smaller" events about how people really lived.

One of the best examples of how the travails of daily life affects national politics is found in Robert Caro's brilliant and seminal first volume of the now five-volume biography of LBJ.

LBJ is from the Hill Country of Texas, and for decades all the water that was used farm houses was drawn by hand from wells, and carried into the home. LBJ was one of the men who got electricity to the Hill Country. It dramatically altered women's work on the farm.  It made their lives easier by a factor of 10. Hill Country people NEVER forgot this, and supported him staunchly in every election, including the 1948 Senate campaign that earned him ironic nickname "Landslide Lyndon".  You need to understand about water in the Hill Country to understand LBJ's rise to power.

And I liked what Julie M. Weathers pointed out:
A conversation got started a few months ago about demanding publishers be forced to publish according to quotas. I asked "And how do you propose to force buyers to buy a certain quota of diverse books? Publishing is a business. They can't stay in business if they can't sell what they publish. The trick is to find more talented diverse authors."

"No, they just need to publish diverse books regardless."

Publishing is indeed a business. Not all that clever of course, but most industries aren't.  (I can still remember when Publishing was "shocked" by the success of Terry McMillan because "black folk don't read."  Yea, right.)
A lot of people of every color, and genre would like to have a quota system of publishing books. Me, I'd like the quota to be 100% of my authors must be published each and every year, or all publishers have to pay me a fine.
When I am Queen of the Known Universe, I might institute that.
In the meantime, that's the one thing that we as readers CAN influence: buy and buzz books outside our own cultural parameters. Seek them out. Talk about the ones that resonate with us. Think about the ones that don't and why they don't (always an interesting opportunity for self-discovery.)

For those of you who read crime fiction, there's a terrific newish author Rachel Howzell Hall whose first book LAND OF SHADOWS I read and loved.

I think I was the first person to have her book on my Library Thing shelf in fact, because I read it in a very early ARC. If there is a dearth of African American writers on your shelf, and you'd like to fix that, her books are a terrific start.  If you just like to read good books, she's a good author to buy too.
And Kelsey Hutton said something here that really spoke to me:
Thank you to folks who have shared from their personal experience, especially Gimme. Debate is important, but it often means laying your life out time after time for other people to examine. It can be wearying.

Friday was a writing contest. Results will be posted on Monday.
Tuesday is a rant. Don your asbestos underpants.

Subheader stays the same this week.

Have a great week.


The Sleepy One said...

From the WIR: "Yes there are ways to fix this, and set comments to stun off, but surely it's just easier to have a website as a website and a blog as a blog?"

My answer--which solely reflects me--is that I can set up and maintain and a Wordpress site with a unique URL with only knowing basic HTML. I choose a template I like, added a custom header, and have a serviceable site for a not a lot of money (I think $4/month in hosting fees, plus about $10 yearly for the URL). If I ever need something more, I can hire a designer, but that's putting the cart before the horse at this point.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Tuesday rant? Excellent. I will delay my hibernation until after Tuesday. And Janet, you are already the Queen of the Known Universe. In time all will know this, at least all that do not wish to be food for sharks.

Thanks for another great week and WIR

Lucie Witt said...

Excellent WIR, as always. I love these so much.

QOTKU said:

"The 70's sitcoms with black actors weren't about the middle class. It's not till you get to the Huxtables in the 80s that you have the black middle class on TV. And yet, black people have been going to college, owning homes, entering professions (in other words, doing all those middle class things) for more than 100 years.

This is not a new problem. It took a lot of activism to get "women's topics" legitimized in history departments as suitable for research and study."

Which made me think about a favorite journal article of mine recently became a full length book. It is in many ways about the intersection of both of the erasures Janet mentions above. It focuses on Rosa Parks, and how she was an anti-rape activist long before the bus boycott (she was even described as "the NAACP's best organizer). The book is all about how, during the Jim Crow era, rape was systematically used to terrorize Black communities, just like lynching, but that part of history has largely been left out of the story.

Anyways, the writing is excellent and it's an illuminating book for any history buff:

At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance--A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power (by Danielle L. McGuire).

Lance said...

Thank you for this great WiR. Excellent.

There's a Lettuce and Kale Digest Review?

Who knew?

Is there a recipe for Kale and lettuce stew?

Is it blue?

MB Owen said...

Jennifer, for anything Pitmad go to @brendadrake and follow the link; for SFFpit do the same with @DanKoboldt . (Both are terrific).

Kate Larkindale said...

Fantastic WIR! I've been away on vacation and haven't had internet for a week, so this has caught me up nicely!

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I want to reiterate how awesome this community is, to be able to have discussed the "Diverse Books Issue" in such a rational and detailed manner. I wasn't expecting a flame fest here, mind you. Not here. But sometimes people can be unpleasantly surprising. And I've belonged to online communities, with TEAMS of moderators, which were not nearly so courteous and genuinely informative as this one (dare I say genuinely caring, as well? I think I might).

So far as anthology calls, I know places like Ralan have an <a href=">anthologies market listing page</a> which is useful to me (for scifi, fantasy, and horror) but not necessarily a mystery or romance or literary fiction writer.

(though I'm sure we might all know the aggravation of writing something too literary to be "speculative" and too speculative to be "literary" and wander around electronically in the digital rain looking for a home for this ragged packet of words)

I guess maybe Poets & Writers also lists anthologies, since they list contests and other submission style classifieds, but I had the weirdest time while I was subscribed to them (or rather my grandmother did, she got it for me for Christmas) getting the correct number of magazines coming to the correct place under the correct name and then they just seemed to give up on the account. Maybe I'll try again and just get it for myself; just got a subscription to Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine, because my local grocery store no longer carries it and my local magazine and tobacco emporium closed.

Since I'm apparently talking about magazine subscriptions (I may have just woken up and then eaten cheddar melted on McDonald's fries for breakfast), what's everybody subscribe to? I also get The Sun, and National Geographic, and then read a whole mess of free short stories online each month in places like Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Guernica, Electric Literature, etc.

nightsmusic said...

I agree with Jennifer in that the discussion this week on diversity was excellent! No guns were drawn, no deaths reported and the discussion remained civil and extremely interesting. Not a lot of places on the interwebs where that happens.

And thank you for a great WIR yet again. I'm still sick and not retaining much because I think my head is going to explode so it was wonderful to catch up.

BJ Muntain said...

Another great WiR. Thanks, Janet. You obviously put a lot of work into it!

Regarding follower bots:

Some people immediately block them. I don't. Because sometimes bots are manned by very interesting people. And having a few extra followers isn't bad. Now, I haven't had this problem for some months, so I don't know if it's gone or not, but Twitter was limiting the number of people you could follow according to how many followed you. So having a few bots following me might mean I could follow a few more people. No big deal.

However, if they botted at me (no, that's not a word, even Twitter slang, but it should be), I'd block them. Or if they were obviously sex bots trying to lure you to nasty sites, I'd block them (you can easily tell this by the number of uncovered body parts in their feed).

Although, there was a really funny Santa bot one year. It had random responses to certain messages, and you could get into some rather amusing discussions with it. There are other bots you can actually follow - there's one that sends out possible story-lines for a magical realism novel (I think it's got 'magical realism' in its name, if you want to look for it.) You can tell it's completely random - it obviously takes a large number of choices of words and phrases and puts them together. I follow someone who retweets interesting-looking ones.

Regarding places to find calls for submissions for anthologies (and other markets), I really only know ones for genre, and there's a couple that have been really good:

Ralan's has markets (including anthology calls) for Science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery stories.

There is also a really good Facebook group I've found called Open Call: Science Fiction, Fantasy & Pulp Markets. Lots of anthology and magazine/e-zine markets get posted there. Contests, too. And people will comment on things like red flags, and whether they've submitted, received an answer, etc., and what their experience was or has been with a certain market.

There are also other genre-related Facebook groups that will sometimes post market calls, but the above one is great for ONLY having such calls.

Regarding Best of anthologies: It really depends on the anthology, but they'll say in the submissions call (if there is a submissions call). Depending on the anthology:

1) they might get their stories straight from the magazines that published them (many magazines will say 'we submit our stories to these anthologies')
2) they might go looking in magazines themselves to pick the best. Sometimes they'll say, "If your story was published in This Magazine, That E-zine, or This Other Market, you don't have to send it in. We read those."
3) they ask authors to send the published stories in, especially if they were published in magazines they may not have seen
4) the magazine itself puts out its own 'Best Of Our Mag' anthologies
5) and some 'Best Of' anthologies don't require the stories to be pre-published. But they do expect the stories to be very good.

And yes, there are those that are by invitation only. And those ones I don't know as much about, because I've never been invited to submit a story for them. And some anthologies will be a mixture of the above - they might go looking, accept submissions from magazines and authors, and invite one or two well-known authors to submit an original or published story.

Donnaeve said...

First, I loved seeing all the new names on the FF entries.

Thank you for the WIR. Nicely done, and informative.

Donnaeve said...

AND, I should add I read Sherman Alexie's essay (loved it) and I loved his rationale. The way he chose the poems for Best of American Poetry resonated with me. Dare I say he chose them the way I (and others) choose books? I.e. he wants the poem to impact him, he wanted it to speak to him without knowing anything about who wrote, what they looked like, etc. Free as possible of "nepotism." I loved his stats at the end. I mean look at what happened.

This is what resonated with me- and to me, seems relate to one of my comments last week.

Anyway, thank you to all who come here and discuss even the most difficult things.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

MB Owen: Thanks! I was typing my comment as yours went up. Accounts followed.

Adib Khorram said...

I adore that Hello Flamethrower graphic.

On the topic of Twitter bots, I also usually let them follow me as long as they don't actually tweet at me. I only let myself follow 100 people (I'm the kind of person that will literally scroll back and read every tweet I missed, so one hundred is about my limit), so I don't auto-follow people that follow me anyway.

On the topic of bots, there is an amusing article about the time that two bots were talking to each other and Bank of America butted in.

I too am very proud to be part of this exceptional community.

NotJana said...

As a professional lurker and not-always-time-for-reading-all-comments-haver I'm looking forward to the WIR every week. (And, considiering 'wir' means 'us' in German, I think even the abbreviation is rather appropriate for the feel of this blog!)

I'm far far away from writing anything publishable but find the whole process fascinating and I've learned a lot without even trying. I'm much better equipped to support friends at the querying stage, talking them off the edges, reassuring them there it's not (necessarily) them and what not. Importantly, I've started to give myself reading goals - it's the first step of becoming a writer anyway, right? I've started to keep a list of the books I've read. I'm not just trying new authors but also new genres and discovered some amazing books that way.

I'm also far too lazy to do research ... so the vast majority of new books comes from recommendations off this blog nowadays (plus the odd shiny cover catching my eyes in bookstores).And I have yet to regret buying anything recommended here. And now I've just added another crime novel to my 'to buy' list. So, as far as I'm concerned, this WIR was rather successful!

There are some odd side effects to reading this blog, though... I smile every time there's kale in my veggie box. I LIKE kale. I ponder the location of Carkoon. I almost take notes while reading about what works and what doesn't (What? I said I was lazy!).

Almitra Clay said...

NotJana: your comment prompted me to look up Carkoon. I had assumed it was somewhere in the Caribbean. You know, someplace sharks might enjoy.

Boy was I wrong!

I, too, laugh now when I eat kale!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Thank you, Janet, for including/answering my question re anthologies, and also thanks to everyone who commented on the original post and here with their knowledge, too.

Janet - I thought this was a great line for writing and for life in general - "You're the only one who can calculate where you want to spend your time."

Donna - I loved seeing all those new names on the contest post, too!

Tamlyn said...

Where does one get asbestos underpants?

Mona Zarka said...

I've only just started reading this blog (around the beginning of the holidays), and I'm super enjoying it.

To usurp Colin, here's Almitra's link: The Pit of Carkoon

I shall now beg forgiveness for my presumption.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Asbestos underpants? C'mon Janet. You know those are bad for our health. Not to mention itchy. The rainbow-colored polyurethane foam underpants are much healthier. We just need a place to get them sprayed on. Or we could go green and use pecan shell flour. Naw, that'd be mighty uncomfortable.

And wow, a mention twice in the WiR. I misread it first as Yogi's Rule. Ha.

That diversity stuff. It's rough learning some days. And today a lot was thrown at me at my day job. Still trying to sort the mental/emotional aftereffects. This community role modeled an excellent path for how to have fruitful conversation.

Thank you for the work you put into the WiR.

Colin Smith said...

Another great WiR. Thanks for answering my questions, Janet. Re. my comment on middle class families in the 60s. I can appreciate that there were certainly middle class black families at the time, but how were they regarded? Did they tend to be in the same neighborhood, or would you get mixed neighborhoods? This is interesting for me because a lot of my conceptions about the way things were in the US in the 60s come partly from what was presented to us on TV in the UK, and what I've seen in the States since. So I do appreciate the perspectives of those who know better.

Donna: Likewise, I was very pleased to see a lot of new names in the flash fiction contest. Of course, all this new talent along with the regular talent only makes the competition fiercer. But it's all good for all of us.

Mona: Welcome, and thanks for catching the link. It's nice to know people have your back. :)

Why do we all look forward to Janet's rants? Do we like our beloved and Most Mighty Shark to have high blood pressure? It may be cruel, but I have to admit, I'm looking forward to Tuesday's post too. As long as the rant's not aimed at me. I'm just getting used to being back in my own bed, and eating lettuce with my salad... :)

Dena Pawling said...

Adib - “I only let myself follow 100 people (I'm the kind of person that will literally scroll back and read every tweet I missed, so one hundred is about my limit), so I don't auto-follow people that follow me anyway.”

I'm like you. I scroll back to read every tweet I missed. However, I will auto-follow anyone who (1) isn't a vanity press, (2) isn't a “we can increase your twitter followers 1000%”, (3) isn't “buy my book” all the time, or (4) isn't otherwise disgusting. Then I check what's in their feed. If the feed is full of (1) tweets every 30 seconds, or (2) tweets I'm not interested in, I click the little gear at the top and mute them. So I've increased their followers, but I don't see their tweets in my feed. Keeps my feed manageable and keeps me happy, and we all know it's all about me.

Great WiR. I'm nervous about the rant on Tuesday because, of course, it's all about me. =)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Whew, hi guys, I finally made it here. Family, novel-wip, (thanks to Donna I'm back at it), and column deadline, life has been, well, full of it.

Great WIR and can't wait 'til Tuesday's rant. I love rants. Any guesses what it's about.

Lisa, polypropylene makes great panties too. I am partial to the lovely sunshiney color, and like my boat lines, they're stretchy too.

Panda in Chief said...

I'm trying not to get online first thing in the morning, so I am missing out on some of the comments and commenting so much.
Thanks again for another WIR. It lets me catch up with everything I've missed.

A further comment about anthologies, sort of. After I graduated from grad school, I took a "business practices for artists" class. One of the things that has really stuck with me was a comment the teacher made: You should apply for any show/grant/residency/award that you are even remotely qualified for. You may not get in or win, but you never know who is going to see your work.

I think this goes double for writing. Today's intern working her way through an agent's slush pile could be tomorrow's agent or editor. Or you might catch the attention of someone who is important now, and the next time they see your name on a submission, they may give it a second (or third) look.

You just don't know.

Anonymous said...

I always feel this odd mix of being pleased that something I said made it into the WIR while at the same time feeling a hideous self-consciousness akin to being called on the carpet and admonished in front of a large group, even when there's no admonishment involved. I'm so weird.

Great recap, Janet, and thanks for clarifying . . . well, everything.

This is me being all succinct, in anticipation of Tuesday's rant. Just in case.

nightsmusic said...

kdjames; I feel the same way!!! (too many exclamation points? But it's true!) I hesitated to say something because I thought, 'oh, no, if I say it, no one will ever notice I'm even here again', but they do. I'm always so honored and weirded out at the same time though, like I really got noticed and with sharks, that's not always a good thing. They have large teeth. ;)

Karen McCoy said...

I was a bit miffed that "Murder on the Beach" was nowhere in World Cat. Though it could be because I wasn't using the right keywords. World Cat is picky like that.

I'd like to take 2N's polypropylene and raise it to OLED. Then we could light up the place.

Libraries face a similar situation to publishers regarding diverse books--though I'm heartened that a lot of great diverse YA and Middle Grade books are coming to the forefront. A couple I can think of off the top of my head:

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton (deals with gender issues as well as racial identity)

George by Alex Gino (beautiful book with a trans protagonist)

But not all of them make it to the forefront. If something is diverse, but didn't get a good review in Booklist, Kirkus, or any of the other reputable review journals, I'll have a harder time justifying spending the library's money on it. But Janet's right--as long as all of us are willing to think outside our boxes, then anything's possible.

Ashes said...


SubItClub does a great monthly contest round up:

(Colin, take care of that link, would you?)

Colin Smith said...

Here ya go, Ashes:

Her Grace, the Duchess of Kneale said...

2. Don't you run the risk of offending people (and creating anti-fans) by including them in your mailing list if they didn't specifically request it? Or am I thinking of newsletter subscriptions?

3. Will include a stupid little pop-up "Join my mailing list" window in my next update of my website. Will need to find a lovely little code that will do the job of enticing people to sign up. As a former dot-com gumby, I still code my own websites by hand. WYSIWYG bloats the code too much.

4. Have since had a few more conversations with other authors with mailing lists. They say one of the biggest advantages is that you can talk about me-ME-me (Buy my books!!) and nobody can complain because they asked for it (ie opted in). That's a pretty compelling argument. Now I'm thinking part of my issues might be because I don't know how to tap into the full potential of my mailing list. Looks like I've got more research to do.

6. "Marry Me - A Candy Hearts Romance" by Heidi Wessman Kneale is out from The Wild Rose Press 1 Feb 2016. If you like the thought of a Suffragette being won over by enchanted talking candy hearts in 1905 New York City, you might want to have a look at this wee book. Available for pre-order now from your favourite ebook vendor: TWRP | B&N | Amazon | Kobo ...or wherever all good ebooks are sold.

Janice L. Grinyer said...

Once again, an excellent WIR. Also, thank you for taking the time out to answer my question; I truly appreciate the time, energy and wisdom you share with us here.

There were reports of a wolf in the forest, literally. Having a lot on my mind after reading your response this morning, I convinced my husband and our 80lb Pine Ridge pup to take a walk to see if we could see paw prints in the snow. No wolf, but lots of Elk, deer & coyote tracks, and breath-taking views. And I came to a conclusion.

A better use of my time, experience and information right now would be putting out a book proposal worth querying (and writing!). Since our situation was unique concerning wildfire i.e. no fire support, living within the disaster zone before/during/after, dealing with animals with severe burns, underground coal fires etc. (list goes on!), it would be best if the categories I reserved for articles be worked into narrative/content chapters instead.

I was given well-meaning advice, but this Journalist had never read anything I have ever written, nor is aware of my background. I need to remember that viewpoints come from the viewer, and if they haven't taken in the full spectrum, then it is an opinion, not a truth.

I have a plan now; I just need to be BOLD enough to execute it.


Thank you, Janet!

Kae Ridwyn said...

Wow! Thank you Janet, for yet another superb WIR - and thank you also for including my twitter bot question! As usual (maybe it's a time zone thing?) I commented after everyone else probably went to sleep on your side of the world :) So thank you for posting it and answering - thank you also to BJ Muntain and Adib and others for your thoughts on bots. I guess this little woodland creature should probably stop worrying about something over which she has no control and just get back to editing the WIP, hey...

I'm also worrying about the Tuesday rant. I'm wondering if it's the Thursday blogpost that I also missed commenting on due to the comments being closed (good call, by the way, Janet!) that will be the topic... but rants scare me and knowing that one's coming, and not knowing what it's about, is... ummm... painful...

Anyway, I'm with E.M.Goldsmith on this "Janet, you are already the Queen of the Known Universe. In time all will know this..." yup. I agree entirely. And not just because I'm scared about your Tuesday post.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I am immersed in Vargic's, MISCELLANY OF CURIOUS MAPS. Love it.

Munroe's, THING EXPLAINER and WHAT IF are awesomely-weird and beyond wonderful.

Thanks for the heads up Janet. I mean really, thanks.
I recommend all.

DLM said...

2Ns, Vargic is sublime. I wish I'd bought more copies of that before Christmas, but I will have a birthday at some point, and may buy it for myself.

Also OT: the second concert I ever saw was David Bowie. I caught his towel, and still have it. His "Hours" album, when I gave it to my brother, earned the best-gift-ever response: "I hope you bought this for me because you have it." He was a stunning talent, a great WRITER, and I will miss him when it's possible for me to actually believe he has died.

And ... this community is made up of such fine people, whom I respect immensely and enjoy just as much. Thank you all, especially Janet, for letting me join in.

Brittany Constable said...

I didn't get a chance to comment on the diversity post before it closed (curse my eternal Feedly backlog), but I wanted to say that I actually took a close look at my reading habits over the last year. I read 100 books by 55 authors (and 11 primary artists, because I had some graphic novels in the mix). 5 writers and 6 artists were people of color. I read more than one book each from 15 authors, and every single one of them was white.

I like to think of myself as being aware of and sensitive to this issue, but looking at what I actually do was quite eye-opening. I've made a commitment this year that at least half the books I read will be from underrepresented authors. If you're curious, I have more numbers and commentary at my blog:

As far as PitMad and SFFPit, they tend to be scheduled pretty far in advance. You can search out the official sites for each, and then put them on your calendar so you've got some warning. I find Tweetdeck indispensable for managing Twitter, and I have a column specifically for agents I'm keeping a close eye on, either because they have my material, I'm planning on submitting to them soon, or they're just entertaining. Chances are good that someone on the list will RT an announcement of an upcoming contest in time for me to check it out and decide to enter. It's also just generally a good way of keeping up with industry chatter and hearing about the important books on the market.

E.Maree said...

That SubIt club link is amazing, thanks Ashes!

I don't know what crackerjack intern means (does it mean random?), I live on the crackerjack-less side of the pond, but I've heard many diverse folks say that lack of pay is a big barrier to diverse interns. Often, the only people who can afford internships come from reasonably well-off families who can help them pay rent in New York/London while they work for nothing. Paying interns a wage definitely makes a difference, allowing people from low-income backgrounds, without local roots, or without wealthy family to apply.

@Colin: I can't speak for American history, but I know you you have a very keen interest in your homeland, so if you ever want to discuss British racial politics feel free to give me a buzz. Scottish and British historical whitewashing is somewhat of a pet peeve of mine.

Scottish history is frequently whitewashed and you'll see many otherwise knowledgeable sources talking about how, as an island culture, Britain would be almost entirely white in X century or Y century. There's not a single century in history where this has been true, Britain was originally populated by migrants from other continents, a really varied batch of folks. I'm always happy to babble on about PoC Romans hiding in Scotland after deserting durin the botched Highlands Invasion, the Scottish black king, King Kenneth III, and the Moorish royalty in the London courts throughout history. Even people who know their history better often falsely assume life as a black minority through history is always awful -- far from the truth. PoCs have always been there, and not in the roles you might think.

American history, from what I've read, has a lot of similarities -- a country built by migrants of all kinds, who existed in far more roles than just manual laborers and servants, but who are frequently erased from history.

Brittany Constable said...

Oh, one more thought, about Janet's request for ideas about the diversity of your internship applicants: is the position paid? Because taking an unpaid internship, especially one that requires working in-person in an expensive city like NYC, requires having some pretty significant personal resources. You have to have someone financially supporting you so you can eat and pay your bills, someone willing to let you stay with them rent-free, a way to pay for transportation if you're living outside the city to save money, etc.

The use of unpaid internships is a huge problem in several industries, not just publishing, and is one of the primary reasons that the pipeline is filled with people who are white and relatively wealthy. Paying even minimum wage puts that opportunity within reach of a lot more people.

(If your internships are paid, then there might be some other reason why they don't attract diverse applicants, of course. But I know that unpaid internships are pretty common.)