Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Six Questions for Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Editor, Bad-Ass Faeries Anthology Series

Bad-Ass Faeries is a collection of unconventional stories designed to “dedisnify” the faerie with a focus on urban fantasy. The series’ goal is to take faerie lore back to it’s original roots because faeries are not all goodness and light, to quote Brian Froud. Read the complete guidelines here -- http://www.badassfaeries.com/submissions.htm.

SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?

Danielle Ackley-McPhail: Well, as with any collection we look for a compelling story, good writing, and evidence that the author can follow the guidelines. We have a very clearly defined goal and our guidelines reflect steps the author needs to take to make our jobs easier. That should always be their goal because we take on a massive amount of work to put these collections together and we aren’t interested in working with people who don’t care if they make our tasks more difficult.

SQF: What are the top three reasons a submission is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to the above question and why?

DA-M: Not fitting the theme of the series. It’s not enough for a faerie to do bad things, they have to have bad-ass attitude that echoes the legends of old. 

Authors who prove themselves difficult to work with and unsupportive of the project. It’s not enough to be talented. Authors who act like divas, are unpleasant to deal with, and don’t bother to help promote just aren’t worth the effort, no matter how good their writing is.

Authors who submit an original story and then turn around and publish it somewhere else before my collection comes out, particularly without telling me, are immediately cut and never asked back.

SQF: Which of the following statements is true and why? Plot is more important than character. Character is more important than plot. Plot and character are equally important. 

DA-M: For me Plot and Character are both important because they are so closely interwoven. You can have an interesting character treatment but if there is no story there, what is the point? You can have a really exciting, action-packed plot, but if you don’t care about the characters, what is there to keep you reading? Now, this isn’t to say that it isn’t possible to focus on one over the other. I myself write character-driven stories, but there is still a story there. I like to say the plot is what happens when you are getting to know the characters, but without the plot it’s just senseless meandering.

SQF: What advice can you offer new authors hoping to publish their first submission in Bad-Ass Faeries?

DA-M: READ the guidelines. FOLLOW the guidelines. ALWAYS include complete contact information, your name, and the title of your submission in your story file (you would be surprised at how many people don’t do this), because if I don’t know what I’m looking at, who it belongs to, or how to contact them, I have no choice but to immediately reject it.

SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?

DA-M: Everyone needs an editor. From the mega-bestseller to the person with a doctorate in English, there is not one person who does not need an editor. Don’t fool yourself if you think you’re better than that. We are too close to our own work to catch all the mistakes. We know what we meant to write so our minds automatically fill that in when we are reading over our work, whether it is on the page or not. Always have another set of experienced eyes look over your work before submitting it, preferably several, and when you receive edits from your publisher/editor…respect the effort they took to give you the feedback and remember that they are PAYING to produce that work and you need to give serious thought to the revisions they are requesting or the errors/conflicts they are pointing out. You can’t reject their revisions just because you think your work is perfect and they shouldn’t mess with your “genius” (believe me…I’ve gotten this before). Remember…they don’t HAVE to publish your work.

SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

DA-M: What makes us different than other anthologies, you ask? Well, first, we have four editors, and we’ve been there. At the beginning…with no real credits to our names, desperately wanting to claim the price of being called “Author”. We know what it is to just start out and how hard it can be to get that first publishing credit under your belt. Because of this our process is a little different. Each story we receive gets a personal critique from me before anyone else even sees it. I send that feedback to the author and they have one…possibly two rounds of revision to bring the story up to speed before I send their submission to the other editors for review. That’s not it, though. Those editors then critique the story as well and the author has one final opportunity to address the editors’ concerns and revise the story before any final determinations are made. Once the “final” version of the story is received each of the editors ranks the final result and acceptance is based on the averaged rank of the story. Now this is only possible because we have semi-closed submissions. Generally we receive about forty submissions for each collection otherwise our process would be unmanageable. The benefit, though, is that by the time we make our acceptances we have fully polished stories and those who submitted have a priceless experience whether their story is accepted or not, including a professionally edited story they can take elsewhere.

Thank you, Danielle. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

NEXT POST: 3/7--Six Questions for Owen Kaelin, Editor, Gone Lawn

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