Since issuing the Best Women's Erotica 2016 call for submissions, I've been asked about two aspects of it I'd like to address, namely money and word count. I know from having been published in prior editions that the payment to authors in the past has been higher, so I wanted to share how I came to the $100/author payment. I'm not privy to anyone's business details but my own, of course, so this is solely about my experience with this specific book. This is my first and possibly only time editing the series (I don't have a contract for any future editions, though of course I hope I will be asked to edit it again).
Using my entire advance, I can afford to pay for 25 stories at $100 each. I'll leave you to do that math. What that means for me as an editor is that I will pay the contributors the entirety of my advance (I may contribute a story as well if there is room, but have room to purchase 25 stories, without paying myself extra for me), so I will not see any income from this book until the book earns over $2,500 in royalties, so the earliest I will see any money from it is, I believe, July 2016. (I don't know the exact pub date, but am now being told the book will be for sale before Christmas 2015, rather than early 2016 as I had originally thought, but I will confirm this once I know for sure.) As a full-time freelancer, this is the most I can afford to pay. Otherwise, if I spent more, I would be paying out of my own pocket, which I do not by any stretch of the imagination have the funds for. If, and I tend to far prefer to deal in reality than "if" land, but if I am ever in the position to be editing the series and given a bigger advance, I will adjust the author payments accordingly. Only you can decide if that potential payment is sufficient to submit to this book, or any book or publication. If it's not, I completely understand. But since it's been mentioned at least twice that I've seen on Facebook, I wanted to address how I came to that number.
I also hired a lawyer for one hour at $250 to look over my contract, which then helped me to negotiate the best terms I could get, so I have actually invested my own money into this project in the hope/belief that it will be worthwhile. I include that information to let you know that I care deeply about my own value as a worker and about the value of my books, and about my authors, and did not take on this project lightly. I am cutting way, way back on the number of anthologies I edit per year; it used to be 6-8, and that did not make sense for my schedule or for my book sales. I do hope to have other calls posted later this year, but as I said, right now this is the only call I have up and the only new book I'm slated to edit as of now.
Which brings me to word count. I arrived at my 1,500-3,500 word count after doing a calculation of how many stories I can afford to buy and how many I will need to fill the book and not go over or under my assigned word count. This was my best estimate. When I've edited books of extremely short fiction, 1,200 words or less, namely Gotta Have It, The Big Book of Orgasms and The Big Book of Submission, the short word count was the point, and I was able to pay $20/story to 69 authors (actually, 68, excluding myself). I hope that to be able to edit another collection of short short erotic fiction again because I've found those fun to work on and I would far rather say yes more times to submissions than no. But that remains to be seen.
I consider my role here an experiment. Will I enjoy it? Will I produce a book readers want to read? Will I produce the book I envisioned in my head when I was asked to edit it? Will I produce a book my publisher is happy with? Will I contribute something new and interesting to a giant, sprawling genre that's already filled with new and interesting books?
I've been reading the Best Women's Erotica series since it started, and have contributed to multiple editions under the editorships of Marcy Sheiner and Violet Blue. I am a fan of the series and look forward to reading the submissions that have already stacked up my inbox, and the ones that will be coming in. Beyond that, I don't have any expectations regarding content, save that I hope to be awed and dazzled by what I read.
My first allegiance, as I see it, is to my readers. Of course I also want to do as well as I possibly can by my authors and my publisher, but without readers, I will stop creating books, because there would be no point. So, in addition to the above considerations I've given to the authors, I am thinking about the readers as I dive into this project. And now I will go continue printing out the dozens of story submissions I've already received. I look forward to reading many more, as long as they arrive by the deadline of June 1 (yes, submissions received on June 1 will be considered, but I strongly recommend submitting earlier).