Book Giveaway: Para Kindred

You could be among the first to score a copy of the latest Wraeththu Mythos anthology, Para Kindred: Enigmas of Wraeththu.

Para Kindred

Immanion Press is currently running a Book Giveaway on Goodreads. Details:

Opens for entries on April 18, 2014
Giveaway dates: Apr 18 – Apr 25, 2014
10 copies available, 0 people requesting
Countries available: US, CA, and GB more

Information at Goodreads.

While you’re at it, see the Goodreads listing for the book.

 

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Behind the Curtain: Editing a Wraeththu Mythos Anthology

I was recently invited to begin posting to the Immanion Press blog, and while there are many topics I would love to launch into, at the moment, top of mind for me is work on the upcoming Wraeththu Mythos anthology, Para Kindred: Enigmas of Wraeththu.

Presently Storm Constantine and I, co-editors, are at the end of the process of creating the book, but what I’d like to do now is part the curtain, so to speak, on the process up to this point, especially the editing. For this I am referring both to the latest anthology and to the two previous, Paragenesis: Stories from the Dawn of Wraeththu and Para Imminence: Stories of the Future of Wraeththu. Hopefully I don’t stray to far into spoiling the mystery, or ruin the taste of the sausage by revealing how it’s made.

First Read

Once Storm and I have decided which stories are mine to edit, I receive each manuscript as a Word or RTF file. I then print it out and for my first read, read it on paper, often making marks on it indicating punctuation and other mechanical issues, plus scribbling in questions, suggestions, etc. I do so much digitally but for first read, unless I’m away from a printer, I like to have a new story in my hands physically. While going through the story the first time, I also put a lot of check marks down next to lines and paragraphs I especially like, so later on I can give the author feedback on my favorite parts. (See note further down.)

First Edits

Next up, I take the original file and save it as a “B” version. I turn on Word’s “Reviewing” tools, so I can track changes. After addressing the basic issues I identified on the paper copy, I start going through the story from start to finish, beginning with a general spell-check, then reading it carefully, often out loud. Reading out loud really helps to make sure the punctuation, especially things like commas and em-dashes, are correct. I also add in comments and questions, attaching to specific words or sentences. Often these are questions asking for clarifications or wondering if I’ve understood something correctly or perhaps saying there’s some inconsistency. Something else I do while editing is keep a text editor or notepad open so I can write down extended comments, questions, compliments, observations, etc. And I also go back to my paper copy to make sure I’ve addressed everything I marked the first time I read it.

Sharing with the Author

Once I have the finished “B” document and my text file of comments, I email it off to the author, along with a note, which varies in length from short to quite lengthy.

I’ll start out with my overall impressions, then share some of the things I most enjoyed about the story.  I believe it’s very important that you start off with the positive, especially when working with an author you’ve never worked with or someone you’ve never met, who might be more likely to take words in an email the wrong way.

Next in my email I will list out some of the specific areas that could use some improvement, whether it’s something more technical like the tense or something like a whole element of the story that has to be brought out more — or something just doesn’t make sense to me. I also include comments on pacing, whether or not the story feels “done,” or whether it instead feels like there’s something missing. It’s this type of nuanced comment that is often most helpful to the writer, as often they might have a sense that something is off, but they can’t be sure because it’s their own work. If someone else expresses a similar concern, they are then free to make edits based on their instincts.

Back and Forth

After days, or weeks, I get back an email with a “C” version of the story from the author. Usually all my technical corrections have been accepted and often authors will go along with most of the comments or suggestions. If they don’t, they leave counter-comments explaining why not. They also explain in the email. It’s probably due to luck that I’ve never wound up in a test of wills with an author. Normally, once they make their case, and especially if they make some changes to resolve a problem, I am fine with the story and let them have their say as they are, yes, the author.

At this point I go through the “C” version of story again, using the “Reviewing” tools to accept all the changes remaining and get rid of all the comments (after I’ve read them). I also make additional corrections, which unless they’re major, I accept. Sometimes I end up reading parts of the story out loud again, to be sure of pacing, commas, and that I’ve not missed anything. And at the end of all this, voila, there’s a clean copy which I can save as version “D.” Usually this is what I send to Storm for typesetting. (Later she creates a PDF version, which both she and I proof, and authors receive PDFs of their own stories, which they proof to be sure everything appears as they wish it.)

Editors and Authors

This is the third Wraeththu Mythos anthology I’ve worked on, and so I’ve worked with eight or nine authors so far, and I’ve used this method for all of them, with really no problems. This is mostly a testament to the professionalism of these mostly “amateur” authors who understand how to deal with editing and don’t freak out if they get back a file with a lot of corrections. As I’d tell any thin-skinned author, offering criticism and edits doesn’t mean I “hate” your story, but that I’m trying to help you make the story the best it can be. These writers understand that.

As with the prior two anthologies, for Para Kindred I have edited Storm’s submissions (just as she has edited mine). However, because they’re coming from Storm, there’s really no need for the whole process outlined above. Her work is already polished when it arrives. With her stories, I generally just do one edit and send it over, along with comments. For first story I received from her this go-round, “Painted Skin,” she did do a rewrite to one part of it, because I had a more major concern (although small in size), so she sent me the file back and I read through it again. But that was all. The second story, “Without Weakness” was, in my opinion, without weakness, aside from a few very minor issues, which Storm quickly tweaked. And I don’t mention this just to make Storm look good, but to demonstrate that often, the more experienced the writer, the more times they have been edited, the more polished their first drafts are. (Another anthology contributor, E.S. Wynn, has also submitted stories to me for editing which were almost perfect from the start, and again, he is a professional author with many stories and books to his name.)

Editing Work

Besides editing stories for this anthology, I edited the revised Wraeththu Chronicles and also was a pre-editor on the Wraeththu Histories. I also was the editor on Fiona McGavin’s A Dream and a Lie, originally published as a trilogy. Hopefully I will get to edit another novel again soon, as working with an author on a larger work like that is quite a fulfilling project.

The BHAGs of Immanion Press

 

Recently I wrote about the core ideology and values of Immanion Press. Now I want to share our Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs). These are the goals that we shoot for in our publishing efforts, but more than that, they are what motivates us each day in our service to our communities. These BHAGs inform a lot of what we do and how we do what we do, and right now they are part of the evolution of our company as we look toward the future we’d like to help shape with the writing we publish.

Our first BHAG is to provide our authors with the best possible service we can, not only with editing, layout, and distribution, but also selection of the cover, marketing help in terms of how they can market themselves and even how we treat our authors as it applies to our contracts. We’ve always take a for us, by us approach to working with authors. Both Storm and myself are authors, and most of the people who do work for us are either authors or artists (sometimes both). We understand what it’s like to be an author or an artist.

One of the reasons Storm founded Immanion Press was because she was tired of her books having the shelf life of a magazine. One of the reasons I published Pop Culture Magick with Immanion Press was because I wanted to write a book in my voice and have that voice respected, instead of having it mauled by people who probably didn’t even practice magic and so wouldn’t have an understanding of the content that is necessary to have to effectively edit it. Those reasons still inform our work today and also inform the BHAG mentioned above, as it applies to working with authors. We want our authors to know their voice is respected and that their vision of how the book should look will also be respected an worked with.

Likewise its important to us to help our authors succeed with their books. Something I’ve implemented in the last year is offering teleclasses and one-on-one coaching sessions with authors on how to market themselves and their books. I offer this service free of charge because they are my authors, but also because I want to equip them with the possible resources they have for marketing: themselves. What many authors don’t realize is that when you write a book you are just beginning a process of marketing yourself and your book. I tell my authors as well that what they are selling isn’t the book, but the expertise or creativity that is contained in the book. That’s an important distinction to make and its one that can help them realize that what they are really marketing is themselves as experts and thought leaders.

The contracts that we offer our authors are contracts based on a simple principle: We want you to choose to send your book to us. We recognize that we have a relationship with our authors and as such we don’t rope our authors into contracts where they are expected to write so many books for us or where they are expected to give us the right of first refusal. The reason we don’t include those clauses in our contract is because we don’t want to force the relationship. If an author isn’t happy with us, why would we force them to continue a relationship with us? I’d rather each and every one of my authors make an informed choice. Another aspect of our contracts that is in favor of the author is that we make sure the author retains the intellectual rights of their work. While its true we are helping them publish the book, we recognize that they wrote the book, that they put a lot of their own effort into the book and we want to honor that.

Our second BHAG is to publish high quality books, fiction or non-fiction and to be the number one independent press that comes to mind when people think about books they’d like to buy that bigger publishers won’t touch. We are very selective about the books we publish. We don’t want 101 books or just any book. We want books that will make people think, that will make people do some work and will  even change their lives. We want our readers to look forward to what we publish and we want our authors to feel excited that they are publishing their book(s) with us. To do that we are committed to finding the right books that speak to what we feel is important to the communities we are apart of.

Our third BHAG is to prove that there is a market for unconventional intermediate to advanced books and to show that audience that we respect them and their taste. Our readers want books that speak to their needs and we understand that. Our authors want to write books that represent their voice and we understand that. We want to publish engaging material for discerning readers who know what they want and our looking for those books, but feeling frustrated because they can’t find them. With us, they will find those books that respect their knowledge and experience, while also helping them go to the next level of their spiritual practice. People who read our books are people who want more than the glut of 101 books out there. They want quality and they want to know that we’ll insure that the books have proper academic citations, as well as comprehensive knowledge and exercises to take them where they want to go, while also being able to backtrack to relevant sources.

Our fourth BHAG is to prove that going with an independent publisher can be a step in the right direction for your own success. Our authors are people who feel a calling to share their writing with their audience. We want to help them reach that audience and we want to support them every step of the way, up to and including supporting their decision to publish elsewhere. If we, in any way, can help our authors succeed then we will help them, because what matters to us is that they feel supported and believed in. We know we are successful when our authors can tell us that we are helping them succeed with what is important to them.