Most of the authors at Writers Who Kill write short stories as well as novels. Last summer, WWK blogger Paula Benson, interviewed short stories writers. This summer, we want to canvas editors and publishers of anthologies to promote short stories and to point our readers in the direction of some great reads. Summer is the perfect time to read short stories while hopping in and out of the pool, sitting on the beach, or to read round the campfire after hiking all day. This week we’re focusing on the SinC Guppy Chapter’s anthologies, Fish Tales and Fish Nets. Please welcome Kaye George and Jim Jackson, two of the chapter’s anthologies coordinators. E. B. Davis
What prompted you to create an anthology?
We wanted to give our unpublished members a chance to be in print and experience the process of professional editing. We knew many of them were excellent writers who had not been given a chance yet.
How did you develop a theme for your anthology?
We wanted to stick with our chapter name, Guppies (or Guppy chapter), so we required mentions of fish or water in each story.
Do you develop a “local” theme to entice readers in your area?
No, we’re an international chapter, so we stuck to our name. The Guppy name stands, loosely, for the Great UnPublished. Our online chapter was founded by unpublished authors attempting to help each other achieve publication. We called the first anthology Fish Tales, the second we named Fish Nets and the working title for the third is Fish or Cut Bait.
How long did you give your writers to submit stories?
Four months. For the current anthology we decreased that to three months.
Did you adhere to the guidelines set up for anthologies by SinC?
What was the response to your query for stories among your writers?
We received more than we could publish. For the third anthology we received 55 stories of which we expect to accept 20-22.
What were the criteria for selection?
We used a scoring sheet. The judges gave numerical scores between 1 and 4 for the eight categories we chose: general impression (which was really the beginning), characters, setting, plot, ending, overall impression, presentation, and theme.
Were the stories judged blind? How did you obtain judges?
Yes. For the first two anthologies, we required each entrant to judge three other entries. Because some judges had more short story experience than others, we discovered that scoring was not the level playing field we desired. For the third anthology, we are using nonmember judges who we approached through our contacts with the Short Fiction Mystery Society.
Did you hire an editor?
Was any thought given as to the order of the stories in the anthology?
The editor chose the order and that order was accepted by the publisher.
How did you find a publisher, and who published your anthology?
We sent out query letters, the same as for a novel or short story. The same publisher, Wildside Press, did our second anthology.
Were you given a choice of covers?
How are you promoting your anthology and do you have a budget to do so?
We produced bookmarks and sent each author a large supply. We’ve had it available at Malice Domestic conventions and others. The writers attempt to sell them individually also.
Do you think that there is a resurgence of interest in short stories?
I wasn’t aware an interest in short stories had gone away. Markets for them come and go, but they are always there.
Have any of your chapter’s stories been nominated for awards?
From the first anthology “Dead Eye Gravy” by Krista Davis and “Palace by the Lake” by Daryl Wood Garber were nominated for an Agatha. “Palace on the Lake” was also nominated for an Anthony and a Macavity. From Fish Nets, Gigi Pandian’s “The Hindi Houdini” was nominated for an Agatha Award.
Are you planning other anthologies?
Yes, by the time this interview is published, the selected stories for Fish or Cut Bait will be with the editor.
These anthologies can be found at Amazon. Remember that you can order them through your favorite indie bookstore!