Usually, in the lifespan of a new anthology, this is about the time I’d do a report from the slush pile to let people know what I’m seeing, or not seeing. To help provide some insight for submitters into what there’s too much or too little of. I can’t really do that with this one because there haven’t been enough submissions yet to really get a grasp on it. I decided to use Submittable to manage submissions for Equus rather than accepting them via email for two big reasons. The first was that I expected to get a lot of submissions to this anthology. More, I figured, than Sirens had received. I know a lot more people who write about horses and their mythological kin than I do sirens, I reasoned. Also, this is going to be the last Magical Menageries anthology so I thought that might inspire an influx of submissions from people who wanted to get in the series before it was done. The second reason I moved to Submittable for this one is that it allows me to read the submissions blind. That removes any potential bias I might feel while reading work by people I know. And given that some of my friends have used fake names and brand new Gmail accounts to submit to me in the past–because they wanted to be sure their story got in (or didn’t) solely based on its own merits–I thought that would appeal to people. Perhaps I made a mistake switching to Submittable. If so, it’s too late now–I’m committed. When I worried aloud about the number of submissions I’d seen to date my husband was like, “You say that every time, you know.”
I got this far in my blog entry, then popped over to Submittable to see how many submissions I’d received so far. I blinked, read the number again and then I checked how many submissions Sirens had by this stage in the process and laughed. Turns out my husband was right and my anxiety was more about me than the actual numbers. Right now I’m on track to see similar submission numbers to what I saw for Sirens–and those are good numbers.
I always get anxious I’m not going to see enough stories, and that anxiety peaks right about now and starts to come down in a couple weeks as the submissions snowball toward the final month submissions are open.
So what, aside from my own anxiety, can account for my inability to see trends in the slush pile? I don’t know for sure, but at a guess I’d say it’s just that there aren’t any trends. Every story that has come in so far is pretty distinct. Most of them have a really strong voice and interesting takes on horse and horse-like critters. There’s a lot of awesome world building and a lot of different equine types. My shortlist is pretty small right now, but none of the stories on it have the same theme, voice or tone. They are all fantasy stories but that’s about where the similarity ends, and let’s face it, ‘Fantasy’ is a pretty big umbrella, amirite?
What can I offer, then, as some sort of guidance for what to send? Uh. Not much beyond the kind of advice I’d have given before I jumped into the slush:
- Make sure you have a strong opening–grab my attention in the first paragraph. I’m not going to try and tell you how, there are millions of ways to do it, but do it.
- Ensure your story contains a solid ending. Over the past couple years I’ve started seeing more and more stories that don’t ‘end’ so much as they ‘stop’. Don’t do that.
- Resolve or change something over the course of the story. If nothing or no one has changed from the start of the story to the end it is really unlikely to work for me.
Probably not super helpful, right?
Well, look at it this way–the door is wide open for you to craft your best Equus story.
Please do. And send it my way before the end of November 🙂
I’ll pop back here with an update in a month or so, and hopefully that time I won’t end up crossing most of it out before I press ‘Publish’ 🙂