Start a Revolution: Update 2

I’m tying all of these updates to the guidelines page for whichever anthology they’re written for (at the bottom of the page), so all the updates are listed together for easy reference.

With the deadline now less than a month away (March 31, 2014), I had intended to be posting this update about a week or so earlier. Other deadlines to be minding held this one up though. So, a slightly belated Start a Revolution update:

This post is more actively an update on what’s going on than the last (which might have gone on slightly longer than I intended), reflecting in equal measure some facets of what’s going on with the slush pile, and in equal part discussing how to (potentially) tailor your submissions to that.

Now, I’ve not yet had a chance to read everything in the pile, though I’ve sifted through a fair chunk of it, and I have looked at all the information volunteered. So this is a partial commentary on everything that’s come in so far. Also, it occurs to me that I’m rather unintentionally screwing over the people trying to chart the response times for this anthology because of my habit of opening whatever catches my eye first, in addition to holding onto things I am thinking over (or in some cases haven’t gotten to yet…). Which would be why my response times thus far have ranged anywhere from an hour to two months.

In terms of my own accrual of data, the submission statistics of the slush pile are shifting a little as we go. And I’ll note again that everything here is based on volunteered information, thus making the following numbers approximations based on partial data.

The current gender identity split has shifted from the initial 60%/40% M/F ratio to 53%/45%/2% M/F/GF (GF being genderfluid or genderqueer).

Pursuant to that last number, the percentage of submitters self-identifying as QUILTBAG (also poly, pansexual, and so on), in whatever particular or combination of respects, is at ~33%.

And while I don’t yet want to drill down into the specifics of New Generation, PoC, and Aboriginal submissions, there is an interesting mix of those thus far. I will mention, in passing, though that the submissions for those categories are uniformly below 20% right now. And I’ll address that aspect of the submissions in detail in the final roundup once the reading period is over and I have time to do a more comprehensive breakdown of the numbers.

The other submissions statistic I’m keeping an eye on is the percentage of Canadian submissions, largely because of the restriction on regional content for Start a Revolution. Despite occasional fluctuations, that’s been fairly steady at 35%. Which will have an impact on the way the anthology shakes out, though that doesn’t take into account the stories I’ve solicited.

In any case, if you’re Canadian, now is a good time to send me your story.

Speaking to the actual content of submissions, we veer into some interesting territory (for me, anyway). All those of you who have yet to submit something should pay attention to what follows:

Right now, I have an overabundance of novelettes in the queue. And while I love reading novelettes, and will be including some, I can’t make a book solely out of them.

Consequently, if you want to fare better at this stage of the anthology process, send me a shorter story. Ideally something around about 4,000 words or under. This is especially true if you are a non-Canadian writer.

I can allot no more than 10% of this anthology to non-Canadian authors. And some of the non-Canadian submissions thus far have been exceptional work. But I’m staring at multiple pieces in the slush pile, one of which I absolutely love, that I’m almost entirely certain I won’t be able to take because of length.

Such are the vagaries of putting together an anthology with regional percentage restrictions. Not much to be done for that I’m afraid.

But above and beyond those concerns are content issues: things given, things not given, and everything that falls in between.

And we can move straight past the inevitable, small percentage of stories that have nothing to do with a particular call and that show up anyway. Most of those were well-written, and I’ve given my feedback, and hopefully people will go do something else with them, fix the ones that need fixing, and for the ones that didn’t need fixing will find a good home for them relatively soon.

Though, tangential to the above is something I need to highlight: I have occasionally run into the issue of having a QUILTBAG secondary character in a story, but not a QUILTBAG protagonist. That’s a problem. And it’s going to be the basis of a couple of rejections coming down the pipe. No matter how good a story in the pile is otherwise, if the protagonist isn’t QUILTBAG, I can’t take it.

Speaking more specifically to genre than characterization, the pile is a little SF heavy right now. Seeing some Fantasy here and there, some more realist work, and some things in between. And though I can guess at a fair bit of what this anthology is going to look like just based on the solicited work and what’s in the pile right now, I’d be decidedly open to seeing more Fabulism, Weird fiction, and Surrealism come in.

Also going to take this opportunity to point out that I’ve only seen one submission thus far involving dinosaurs. (Could be some in the stories I haven’t looked at yet, it’s always possible.) About which I am quite surprised. And I am, even now, shaking my head at the dearth of saurian contributions to the slush pile. Also interesting to me are the rather removed approaches to mythological bases that have been showing up for this call. Though, I have seen a couple of interesting mythical and fantastical approaches thus far, including a story that was sort-of-kind-of-moving in the direction of utilizing a Garuda, more metaphorically than literally admittedly, but it was delightful to see that and thumbs up to that nod nonetheless.

Of course, the problem with putting out an active subcall for a certain kind of story at this point is that I don’t know what else is already on its way in, so I don’t want to glut the queue with things that would already be showing up anyway. Especially since I don’t have the bulk of my solicited stories in hand yet.

So I will restrict myself to suggesting that people do send generally shorter works right now. As always, make it interesting. Please do keep in mind that, yes, your stories do have to involve QUILTBAG characters in some capacity, and that, again, the protagonist has to be QUILTBAG (using my slightly wider definition) in addition to any other characters in the story that are as well.

At this point I’ve only accepted two pieces outright for the anthology (one a solicited work, the other from the slush pile; one a novelette, the other a long short story). And I’ve sent along one rewrite request as well. So there’s a lot of room to work with.

And as always you can query me about anything related to the anthology.

And while we’re on the general subject of submissions, I’m going to slip momentarily into talking about This Patchwork Flesh. Specifically in regards to length issues. After thinking about the way longer stories have impacted the makeup of Start a Revolution, both in regional terms as well as the total allotment of space I have to work with, I’m going to lower the upper allowable word count of submissions for This Patchwork Flesh down to 8,000 words.

I’ll be amending that information where I can, and will be getting in touch with the websites listing that information that I can contact directly. But please do spread the word on that altered word count. A fair bit of time before the reading period opens for This Patchwork Flesh and I want people to have ample notice of that change so they can write and/or change their stories accordingly.

In the meantime, keep sending your stories. Pass along the call to anyone you think would be interested. And comment, query, and get in touch with me as need be (here, via e-mail at adarkandterriblebeauty@gmail.com, or via Twitter @fomcontest).

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