I am gearing up for the release of Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, which hits bookstores and e-readers January 12th, and also to post the my new call for submissions for Cleis Press for Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 2, which you can find on January 1 at bweoftheyear.com. The payment for authors for that volume, will be, as this one was, $100 per story. It's a fee I hope to be able to increase if I am given the opportunity to edit future volumes; I have no idea if that will happen, and right now my focus is on making the first volume as big a seller as I possibly can.
Already, I can tell you that I've gotten the woman I consider the very best erotica narrator around, who also happens to be a contributor to the book, Rose Caraway, as the narrator of the upcoming audiobook. That's one way I'm expanding the reach of this volume and ensuring that it reaches a wide readership/listenership.
Because I know that for most of us, that is a small sum in the grand scheme of bills to pay, I want to talk a little bit about what else I try to provide my authors. As a full-time freelance writer/editor/teacher/consultant, I know very well the value of money. I don't get paid sick days or holidays. I only get paid for work I produce, and that means that I'm highly aware of the value of every penny I spend and every penny I make. It's why I plan to tell those authors whose work is accepted this year to not waste their precious dollars sending their contracts via priority mail, when cheaper, regular old mail will do perfectly and won't cut into their $100 fee.
So because I'm aware that $100 isn't that much money, here's some of the other ways I try to support my authors:
1. Social media - I've made a Twitter list of the contributors to Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 and am doing my best to promote them, retweet them, and share their additional news, such as free erotica stories.
2. Interviews - I try to give authors a way to promote their own work and to highlight the efforts they've put into crafting their stories in my books. In the case of this book, I'm doing a series of Q&As on Tumblr with my authors. So far, I've interviewed: Elizabeth Coldwell, Rose P. Lethe, Valerie Alexander and Theda Hudson.
3. Reviews - The moment I see one of my authors praised in a review of the book they're published in, I let them know. I also post those wonderful words highlighting their stories on social media, as I did with the recent Library Journal review. I want them to hear what people have to say about their work; of course, if a review pans my author, I won't go out of my way to point that out to them, but an up-and-coming author can use some of those reviews in their own promotional materials, to bolster a book proposal or simply to quote on their website.
4. Live events - Plug: come hear me read from Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 at these free events: January 19th, 6:30-8:30 pm at Good Vibrations, 1620 Polk Street, San Francisco, with Amy Butcher, Rose Caraway, Dorothy Freed and Jade A. Waters, and March 31st at The Pleasure Chest, 3436 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, from 6-7:30 pm with Tara Betts and Rose P. Lethe.
This is probably the most costly and time-consuming aspect of anthology editing. On one level, you could see it as me asking authors to provide free labor, because essentially, I am. I'm asking them to take time out of their day or night and read their story to a live audience. But why I think this is helpful to them is: a) they get to bond with audience members and grow their own fan base, b) they get to hear their work read aloud and find out how people respond to it in the flesh, c) they get to meet fellow contributors in person and b) returning to social media, I promote their name and, if they are amenable, their photo on social media. Their name may get mentioned in major media outlets that are listing the event. I firmly believe that live readings go a lot further than the limited number of people who will actually attend such an event. Simply getting your event "out there" means you're raising awareness of the existence of the book and those authors' work in the book.
Is there more I can do for my authors? Most likely, yes! I am in ongoing communication with them and open to suggestions, and hope to add new readings to the lineup in 2016. I want my contributors to feel proud of not just their bylines, but being part of this book as a whole. I want to give them as much support as I'm capable of given my time and resources. And as I said, my goal is to make this book and the next one sell far beyond my wildest dreams, which will enable me to do more promotions, more readers, and pay future authors even more money. For now, this is what I can offer, and I look forward to launching this book and reading submissions for the next one in the new year.