*** Please note — the following text was the original open call for submissions to The Twisted Book of Shadows. While the anthology’s table of contents has now been finalized, what we wrote about the genesis and inspiration of this project remains as true today as when we announced the anthology ***
What inspired us to create The Twisted Book of Shadows, and what can readers (and writers) expect from this anthology?
Anthologies were a vital, formative part of our development as writers — and as readers. We look back with love and wonder at the efforts of the legendary Charles L. Grant to bring the cream of the horror crop into readers’ hands. His eleven-volume SHADOWS series contained familiar names, but every installment also presented us with the unfamiliar, and often the brand-new. Other Grant anthologies — TERRORS, NIGHTMARES, MIDNIGHT, the quartet of GREYSTONE BAY books — provided the same. Charlie Grant helped move unknown writers into the horror community’s conversation.
There were other anthologies that contributed to the trend. Thomas F. Monteleone’s BORDERLANDS series. Kathryn Ptacek’s WOMEN OF DARKNESS. Stuart David Schiff’s WHISPERS series. Kirby McCauley’s legendary DARK FORCES. Skipp & Spector’s milestone BOOK OF THE DEAD. David J. Schow’s SILVER SCREAM. And on and on…
But those books were published during horror literature’s glory days. In the years since, it has grown more and more difficult to persuade publishers to invest in horror anthologies (or anthologies of any sort, really). If Golden wants to pitch an anthology to a mainstream publisher, it’s necessary to compile a list of contributors first. Which means that there’s little opportunity to bring in unknown writers.
Yet those memories remain. We have talked for years about the desire to present an anthology that is open to anyone, and which allows us to follow some personal rules (outlined below). Yes, it’s a massive time commitment, but we—and John McIlveen of Haverhill House—believe it is absolutely worth it. We want to create a market for horror stories that presents a real, professional opportunity.
Further, and of equal importance, we want to create a market that actively encourages the submission of horror stories by diverse voices. We want the best stories, no matter who wrote them. When we say we want a level playing field, that means smashing preconceptions about who writes horror.* We cannot say loudly enough that we hope to receive stories from women, from authors of color, from LGBTQ writers, from any author who identifies as belonging to a marginalized community. We want you as part of THIS community. (*White, cis-het men are obviously welcome. This is not an attack on you, or an effort to exclude you. It’s an effort to level the playing field.)
To that end, THE TWISTED BOOK OF SHADOWS …
• Will have zero spaces reserved for marquee names.
• Will use a blind submissions program (we won’t know who wrote the stories until we’ve selected them).
• Will pay professional rates—a minimum of six cents per word, with a cap on advances of $300 per story.
• Will pay royalties—a pro rata share of 50% of all royalties earned.
• Will make our best efforts to spread the word, so that marginalized communities of horror writers will be aware of the call for stories.
• Will employ a diverse Editorial Committee. In recognition of the possibility of inherent bias in our reading, the editors have engaged an astonishing team of diverse writers and editors who will read submissions alongside us and will offer their input and aid in the selection process. These authors and editors have a breadth and depth of experience that has transformed this project into THE horror anthology for the coming year.
How the hell are we going to do this?
If you’ve browsed this web site, you probably already know. We’ve launched a GoFundMe page (CLICK HERE) because we believe there are enough readers out there who will believe in this project to get it funded. We want there to be opportunities out there for horror writers to compete based solely on talent, and to be paid professional rates for their work. Yes, we’re aware six cents per word is not a lot of money, but it’s a start.
We’re also starting with our own money. Christopher Golden, James A. Moore, and John McIlveen have each committed to donate $333.34, making up the first One Thousand Dollars (and two cents) of the money needed to fund this book. The editors are not taking a penny from their efforts until royalties are earned.
What should you donate, and what do you get?
If you believe in this project, you should donate whatever amount you feel comfortable with. $5 or $50 or $500. However, donate at least $25 and you’ll get a free digital copy of THE TWISTED BOOK OF SHADOWS. Wait … why just a digital copy? Well … we’re doing this as a GoFundMe instead of a Kickstarter because we want to focus on paying the writers. No gimmicks, no fancy prizes … nothing like that. No incentives other than a great reading experience and a level playing field for authors. We believe that there are enough people out there who believe in this project that we’ll be able to meet our goal of raising $7000 in total (especially since we have already committed to put in the first thousand).
What happens to the money if we go over our goal?
If we’re fortunate enough for that to happen, it’s our hope that we’d roll the additional money into the next volume. If, for whatever reason, there is no second volume, we would disperse the money in equal shares to the authors of this first volume. The editors will not take a penny of the donation money, not even in repayment for our initial donations. A donation is a donation. The only way we’ll earn any money is from actual royalties from actual sales.
When will THE TWISTED BOOK OF SHADOWS open for submissions?
There will be a window for submissions during the entire month of February, 2018. This gives authors nearly four months from this announcement to write their stories. More information will be forthcoming about the submission process. On January 31st, we will announce the email address for submissions on The Twisted Book of Shadows Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/The-Twisted-Book-of-Shadows-834535473417854/). Stories should be 3K words and up. Payment will be capped at 5K words, but we won’t reject a story for exceeding that length. (Though stories above 10K words will be frowned upon.)
What happens if you don’t meet your goal?
We hope that won’t happen. If it does, we might need to accept fewer than our planned 18 stories. But if somehow there is no book, donations will be refunded.
So what now?
DONATE! If you believe in this project, if you’d like to see an open, professional market for great horror stories, please contribute. Remember, $25 or more gets you a digital copy of the book, but every dollar helps.
And PLEASE SHARE!
— Christopher Golden, James A. Moore, and John McIlveen