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Lusty Lady

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

My two paying calls for submissions and why perfect grammar is so important

If you want to head directly to my two Cleis Press calls for submissions, visit Erotic Teasers (October 1, 2017 deadline, pays $100/story) and Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 4 (November 1, 2017 deadline, pays $200/story).

I'm looking forward to October and November, when I'll be selecting the stories I want to include in those manuscripts (then my publisher has final approval, which can take several months; see my post about the timing of the publishing process here), doing so earlier than I have in the past so I can put every ounce of my creative energy into promoting my back-to-back releases, Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 3 and The Big Book of Submission, Volume 2. Having two books come out in two months is not for the faint of heart, and to be honest, I'm not sure if I can handle it, and most of my time and money will have to go into BWE because that's the more popular type of book, but I will do my best to make both big sellers because I owe that to myself, my business, my publisher and my authors.

Right now I'm doing my second least favorite task that comes with the job of anthology editing: copyedits. Even though a large part of my 7.5 year full time magazine editing job involved copyediting, and I do a lot of it in my current copywriting job, being in charge of the words of other authors' is not a responsibility I take lightly. I live in fear that one of their edits won't make it into the final book, and I will look like the worst editor who ever lived. Okay, that's hyperbole, but I have an all or nothing brain and if that were to happen, no matter how proud I am of the rest of my book, I would feel awful, because once a book's in print, it's in stores and that's it.

So I've actually been dragging my feet on putting together the edits of the copyeditor I hired (something I wish I'd done for all my books and well worth every penny) and the ones my authors sent me. Then my publisher incorporates those edits into the manuscript before galleys and final books get printed.

The part about me being beyond nervous is my own issue to deal with, though trust me, if I ever quit anthology editing, I will not miss waking up in a panic with worry about this, or holding my breath when I send books out to authors, hoping their story has come out perfect.

That brings me to my calls listed above and why they're so detailed. Some of that is because I often receive an influx of stories that are similar either in setup or subject, which means I can't use them all in my books, because the two biggest things I provide to my readers is variety and sexiness. That's not something I can predict when writing a call, so I try to emphasize creativity and uniqueness.

But what I do emphasize in my calls, or at least, what I hope I impress upon those who might submit, is the importance of perfect grammar and proofreading. You might think, But Rachel, aren't you going to edit the story, and then two copyeditors as well? Yes, I am and they are, but here's the thing: If a story comes in that is riddled with grammatical errors, that vastly increases the likelihood that out of the four people proofing it (author, anthology editor and two copyeditors), someone will miss some of them. Who loses out? Well, everyone. The reader, first and foremost, because they will be distracted when reading your story. I know this as a reader who got distracted several times recently reading a novel I otherwise enjoyed. My publisher will lose out because their reputation will go down in the eyes of that reader. I will lose out for the same reason, and that directly impacts my income and potential opportunities to edit more books. And it impacts the author, because I don't think anyone out there wants their name next to words that are less than the very best they can be.

So while I accept complete and total responsibility for any errors that wind up in my final books, I do tend to gravitate toward submissions whose writing I enjoy that are grammatically correct and typo free, because I know that they will improve the quality of my anthology. Also, the above is the process with my anthologies, but if you are submitting your work other places, or self-publishing, there may be fewer people going over your words, so the onus is on you to make them readable. Ultimately, that's, to my mind, the whole point of grammar: to make words more readable, to make them flow better, to make the reader's job easier so they can enjoy the story more. Now I must return to doing that very thing, and then crossing my fingers and hoping with all my might that I've done my job well.

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