Curating an erotica anthology – an editor’s view
I’m mostly known as a sex blogger and erotica author. Which is great, because those are two things I definitely am. I’ve been those two things for about four years now, both coming into my life at around the same time. More recently, I added a third string to my filthy bow: I put out the call for my first erotica anthology in late 2013 and have since developed a love for editing and curating other people’s words.
What I thought I’d do for my first column here on Write Sex Right is a twist on the old “What’s your writing process?” I’ve never really delved that deep into my own process, so I expect this will be a bit of a learning moment for me, too.
Or proof that I am woefully inefficient, I don’t know.
1) Brainstorming/writing/sending the pitch
I work mainly as an external editor for a small erotica press. This particular press has left me quite free in choosing my ideas, so I tend to just have a loose brainstorm in search of a theme. When I’m writing the pitch, I use the basic template of a call for submissions found on ERWA, shaping the template to my call. I usually have a pretty good idea of the kind of stories I want, so when it feels like I’ve brought that across in the call, I send it to the publisher.
2) Cover art approval
They provide me with some cover art options, and after I’ve finished flapping excitedly (because I flipping love picking a cover), I pick out my preferred option.
3) Promoting the call… and waiting
Once I’ve given the approval for the cover art, me and the publisher work out when the call will appear on their website. I then get in touch with websites like Erotica Readers and Writers Association and Erotica for All, to notify that I have a call out and I am accepting submissions. I also get in touch with authors I’ve previously worked with and people of whom I know write about current calls, to see if they’re interested in either writing for the call or promoting the call, or both.
And then, I wait until submissions come in.
4) Curating submissions
I have found that the amount of submissions I get in varies greatly from theme to theme. The more niche subjects – like my first anthology, which was Roaring Twenties themed – might have a few people humming and hawing, before deciding to pass. Nevertheless, this is the period when submissions come in, and I like to log them on an Excel spreadsheet so I can keep track of what’s been sent to me.
I usually accept submissions until midday the day after the deadline, as I am keeping in mind time differences.
5) The reading period/Final selection
Then comes the nitty gritty – the reading period. I like planning this bit out in advance, both to keep myself on a tight schedule and to not keep the authors waiting too long. Again, I work with a small press imprint, so I won’t get the amount of submissions bigger presses might get. Hence, my reading period will be a bit shorter, so I like to take the time to read through all the pieces at least twice before I start making a final selection.
Once I have settled on my final selection – and I mean really, truly settled – I send out my acceptance and rejection letters. The acceptance letters get a contract attached to them, and a friendly hello from me. I love getting my authors involved in the process and make a business of keeping them in the loop about everything.
7) The editing
Also known as the bit where you really don’t want anything bad to happen, like, say, your computer breaking down. Ahem.
I tend to do three passes on all stories and send the final edits to the authors to approve of. When they’ve all come back, I shuffle the stories into an order (depending on story pace, length, themes, etc…) and send a master file off to the publishers, before liaising on a release day with them.
8) Release day
As I mentioned, I like keeping my authors in the loop and involved, so we’ll generally all have a brainstorm regarding marketing before this day comes.
And when the big day arrives…
9) Sigh of relief
Before getting back to work and pimping this anthology.
There will be points throughout this process where I’ll be ready to sack it all in because DESPAIR. Much like writing a story, sometimes you just feel like giving up. But, in general, editing is now as much a part of me as my blog and my stories. And oh, I love it so.