The 2015 submission deadline for Brewed Awakenings 2 passed on May 31. The stories have been uploaded to our editors; they’ve got until Tuesday to finish their reviews and votes, after which time I’ll send out acceptance and rejection letters. We received a final tally of 67 separate submissions by 58 different authors. Sixty of the 67 are eligible for review by our in-house editors.

Some tidbits for the graphically minded among you:

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Seven of our 67 pitches were rejected without further review; all seven were variations on the theme that the author pitched a novella or novelette but only supplied a brief sample instead of the entire work. Our editorial guidelines were unambiguously clear — in more than one place — that anthology submissions must include the whole work. As they say: “No soup for you!”

But had I desired to be a genuine Soup Nazi about it, I probably could have kicked out almost half of the submitted work for having failed to meet at least one point in our guidelines. The most common problem revolved around de-identification; despite that our editorial guidelines list in bold, red text that all material (except, obviously, the cover letter) must not contain identifiable author information, almost half did. Some included the author’s full name, address and contact information in the header of every page! This go-around, I removed the extraneous material and passed the stories along, but in the future, they’ll be kicked back at first submission for a re-do before we put it in the pile for June reviews. My core learning here is that I needed to do deeper checks of anthology material before acknowledging blanket receipt of the information. Plus, we did some substantial tweaking of the guidelines, so some of the early submitters didn’t have the same standards as clearly delineated as later submitters did.

A few trends that worry me:

  • A full third of all material is “micro” length — basically, flash fiction less than 2,000 words. Some of the stories came in at less than 1,000 words. It mystifies me why people would submit this kind of stuff to an anthology. To a literary journal? Sure. But a book anthology? The cost of contracting and managing the effort of production doesn’t scale well for flash work. Depending on how this volume winds through to completion, we may bar flash-length stories in future anthologies, or decline to compensate prose submissions of less than 2k words.
  • A good many authors still haven’t mastered the art of querying correctly by using a proper cover letter and following the publisher’s clearly written guidelines. A surprisingly large number of authors apparently think the cover letter is a place to unilaterally exempt themselves from our guidelines — with one author, believe it or not, basically saying that one of our points didn’t matter because his story was good. Golly.

A few things that please me:

  • For all the kvetching you see from grizzled editors and publishers about the amount of “crap” in the short-story market, we have quite a few submissions that, at first read, seem really good. Only a very few of the stories we’ve received are abject groaners. The rest show some merit, although obviously not all of them can be accepted. Some might get an invitation to submit to The 3288 Review.
  • We only got three fusion stories — hooray! — and they all did the fusion part well enough. We also got a lovely mix of genres and enough work at the novelette/novella length to ensure that we have some meatier stories to pair with some of the shorter fare.
  • Submissions later in the cycle, presented as we refined and tightened our guidelines, suggest that despite the uneven querying we’ve seen, enough authors take the guidelines seriously enough that our investment in fine-tuning them helps everyone understand the framework of what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.

Authors will be notified by email within the next week or so. Accepted authors will get a copy of a contract with strict deadlines for various milestones in the production process. Looking for release in early/mid October, so a lot of things must happen in a short window of opportunity.

And — we’re still accepting anthology submissions. The door is open for volume 3, due in late 2016. Visit our Query page or learn more about Brewed Awakenings for more information.

Brewed Awakenings 2: First Impressions and Next Steps
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