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Five Things I Learned Editing My First Anthology, by Amber Fallon

Five Things I Learned Editing My First Anthology
by Amber Fallon

Reblogged from http://amberfallon.net/writing/five-things-i-learned-editing-my-first-anthology/

I’ve done a few of these “Five Things…” posts for my day job, and they seem to be pretty popular, so I figured I’d give it a shot in the writing realm. (Oooh, I like the sound of that. Writing Realm. Nice.)

As you may have heard, my editorial debut, Fright into Flight, will be released by Word Horde on September 4th. I’m insanely proud of that book and the effort that went into putting it together. I spent untold hours reading, reviewing, researching, compiling, editing, and reaching out to authors, to say nothing of the mountain of slush I read through when we opened up to submissions.

Even though the window was brief, just two weeks total, we received over 100 submissions. That’s a LOT to go through!

We were extremely lucky with the quality of submissions we received. Only a minuscule percentage of the total didn’t follow the guidelines. For the most part, every story I read was good. Which made my first time as editor very challenging. It wasn’t a matter of choosing only the best stories, it was also a matter of choosing stories that would fit well with the rest of the book.

I’m not sure exactly what I had been expecting, but it wasn’t rereading the same two stories a dozen times, trying to choose which of them would best fit the book I was molding from other peoples’ words.

Fright Into Flight edited by Amber Fallon

The process was challenging. I believe I rose to meet the task, but in doing so, I learned a lot. Here are the five biggest lessons:

1: Breaks, including palette cleanser reading, are absolutely vital.

Initially, when faced with so many submissions and such a narrow window in which to read and evaluate them, I just powered through. I read over two dozen stories that first day. And I was completely burnt out on the subject of flight by day two. I couldn’t even look at buffalo wings without groaning.

Turns out, I was pushing myself too hard and I wasn’t giving myself enough time to adequately appreciate or digest what I’d just read. I was like a robotic reading machine. That wasn’t great, and it certainly wouldn’t lead to the creation of a book I could be proud of.

So I took a break. I spent an hour reading stories I loved from an old vampire anthology. Then, refreshed and renewed, I went back to reading slush on a much more reasonable schedule. The lesson here is that sometimes pushing yourself too hard can actually be detrimental to your end goal. Make sure you’re taking the time to do things right and respecting yourself in the process.

2: Rejecting your friends frankly sucks, especially if their stories are good.

I knew I’d have to reject stories, which was a rough prospect for me. I know how much rejections can sting sometimes, and inflicting that on someone else was not going to be easy. But I had an obligation to Word Horde and to myself to put out the best possible book, and that meant saying no to a lot of stories. Some of them were great. Well written, engaging, with killer endings… and some of them were even written by people I’m proud to call friends.

The book I was building had to take precedent over everything else.

3: Sometimes the book you intended isn’t the book you end up with.

As an editor, I had to take a lot of different factors into account. Themes, points of view, voices, narrative styles, and so many other things had to be carefully balanced to create a book with nuance; something that would appeal to a wide range of readers. It was a big challenge, but a very important one, I think.

When Ross at Word Horde first approached me, I immediately had a list of authors, if not stories, I wanted to include. Some of them… well, just didn’t happen. Which meant that the book I’d originally envisioned had to evolve and take on a new shape. I couldn’t be happier with the end result, but I wasn’t exactly prepared for the winding path it took to get there.

4: Everything carries a risk, but when you bring gender into it, the risk factor only increases

Fright into Flight was never intended to upset anyone. It wasn’t meant to be a ‘#&%* you!’ to the editors of Fright or Flight, even though the all male table of contents of that book is what inspired it. It was meant as a way for me to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. To take charge and fix something I saw as broken… but we can’t control the way people will take things, and we can’t change the perceptions of someone who has already passed judgement on something if they aren’t willing to listen.

While the response to the anthology has been overwhelmingly positive overall (including my first ever Publishers Weekly review!) there have been some rather… unpleasant, shall we say? Comments. I’ve been called names and worse over this. And I probably should have expected it, but I didn’t. I saw this endeavor as a good thing. Leave it to the internet to burst bubbles like they were wrapping a lead vase from Amazon.

5: The horror community is amazing.

Maybe this one is cheating, since I already knew that… but putting this anthology together, and the reception it has gotten so far (and it isn’t even out yet!) has been truly incredible. The amount of support, motivation, love, and positivity has made me all the more sure that horror is, and always will be, my home.

Thank you to everyone involved, from contributors to reviewers to people who have preordered the book or shared the news on social media. I couldn’t have done this without you.

I hope you’ll consider preordering Fright into Flight!

Fright Into Flight coming this fall, an open call, and Corpsepaint is unleashed upon an unsuspecting world…

This fall, Word Horde will be releasing Fright Into Flight, an anthology of horror stories by women themed around the idea of flight, edited by Amber Fallon. Whether you’re flying the unfriendly skies or safe on the ground, we think you’re going to enjoy this turbulent ride. Here’s a peek at the cover…

From the earliest depictions of winged goddesses to the delicate, paper-winged fairies of the Victorians, from valiant Valkyries to cliff-dwelling harpies, from record-setting pilots to fearless astronauts, women have long since claimed their place in the skies, among the clouds and beyond.

Word Horde presents Fright Into Flight, the debut anthology from Amber Fallon (The Terminal, The Warblers), in which women take wing. In these stories connected by the unifying thread of flight, authors including Damien Angelica Walters, Christine Morgan, and Nadia Bulkin have spread their wings and created terrifying visions of real life angels, mystical journeys, and the demons that lurk inside us all. Whether you like your horror quiet and chilling or more in-your-face and terrifying, there’s something here for every horror fan to enjoy.

You’re in for a bumpy ride..So fasten your seatbelt, take note of the emergency exits, hold on to your airsick bag, and remember that this book may be used as a flotation device in the event of a crash landing.

Amber Fallon has picked a great lineup of stories for Fright Into Flight so far, and we’ll be opening up preorders soon, but for now, we’re looking for a few more stories to fill in the gaps. As Amber says, “I want stories with wings and teeth, I want fear, I want heartbreak, I want depravity and darkness. I want to read things that will make me afraid to look up into the sky. The interpretation of the theme ‘flight’ is really up to you. You can go more traditional and give me stories of airports, airplanes, and demons on the wing or you could stretch it and offer tales of winged harpies, space crafts, flying beasts, angels, demons, or anything in between. The ideal story would be between 2,000 and 5,000 words in length.” If you’re a woman who has the right stuff, reprint or original, please drop Amber a line at amber[at]amberfallon[dot]net. This open call closes Monday, May 14, 2018, so move with the speed of Nike if you want your story to be considered.

We’ve also just released David Peak’s black metal horror novel Corpsepaint onto the world. Here’s just some of the press Corpsepaint has received so far…

“If you live and breathe both black metal and literary horror, this book is a gift.” –CVLT Nation

“An icy hymn to apocalypses both cosmic and personal, David Peak’s novel is as savage and grim as the music of Darkthrone, but also as intricate and otherworldly as that of Emperor. A black metal masterpiece…” –Ginger Nuts of Horror

“I loved Corpsepaint. I love black metal, I love cosmic horror. This book is a match made in heaven (or should that be Hell?!) for me.” –The Grim Reader

“Cosmic-pessimism is Peak’s speciality, and when you combine that with the brutal aggression of a black metal band recording an album with a strange cult act, you know things are going to get pretty weird.” –This Is Horror

Corpsepaint is best read at maximum volume. Ask for Corpsepaint wherever better books are sold, or order direct from Word Horde today.

The Children of Old Leech are coming…

There are Things–terrifying Things–whispered of in darkened forests beyond the safe comfort of firelight: The Black Guide, the Broken Ouroboros, the Pageant, Belphegor, Old Leech…

These Things have always been here. They predate you. They will outlast you.

This book pays tribute to those Things.

For We are the Children of Old Leech… and we love you.

We are the Children of Old Leech... and we love you.

The Children of Old Leech
A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron

Edited by Ross E. Lockhart & Justin Steele
Cover design by Matthew Revert

Coming summer 2014 from Word Horde

TOC to be unveiled soon

Reviewer inquiries to publicity[at]wordhorde[dot]com

PS: Happy Birthday, Laird!