While my primary focus in 2016, especially for the next few months, is on making Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 a success, which means reaching out to bookstores and sex toy stores, organizing events, using Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram and basically living and breathing book marketing like I've never done before, I am also thinking ahead. I'm thrilled that Cleis Press had enough faith in me as an editor to sign me up for a second volume before this one's even hit stores, and my goal is to live up to that faith and maybe even exceed it.
I've posted the call for submissions for Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 2. Please feel free to post this call anywhere you like (it's public) and let me know if there are any websites, magazines, organizations, etc. that might be good places to send it, especially anywhere outside the United States I might not know about. I hate when people come to me and say "I just heard about your call" and there's three days left, so I am aiming to get the call to as many writers as I can.
It's long, but already I've had questions. One was whether "women" includes all people who claim that identity? Yes. Anyone who self-indentifies as a woman and whose story conforms to the guidelines is eligible. The second was whether lesbian stories would be accepted. My reply: "As long as the story is from the perspective of a woman, any type of sexuality/sexual orientation will be considered." I'm sure as I get more questions, if it seems elements of what I want aren't clear, I will clarify them in the call, which will live at the Best Women's Erotica of the Year website because I want it to have its own home, which will be expanding and evolving.
I still remember my early forays into submitting to this series, and how thrilled I was when my dishwashing fetish story "Doing the Dishes" made it in. I am humbled and honored that someone might feel that way based on my selecting their work for this series, and I don't take it lightly. Ultimately, my job is to please readers. If they don't like my books, then I find a new profession. I've heard a few early comments about Volume 1 and can't wait to hear what others think. I love all the stories in the book, but I know different ones will appeal to different readers. I may be too close to the work, still, having recently copyedited it and dreading when someone tells me that I didn't catch a typo. Speaking of typos, I just changed "ninetines" to "nineties" in my call for submissions and a bunch of other typos, because I retyped the entire thing rather than figure out how to get it unitalicized, because I'm stubborn and human and mistakes happen, but I will be even more diligent with Volume 2, either giving myself time to do a second round of copyediting or perhaps having another person look at it (yes, my publisher of course copyedits the book, but if you've ever had work published, you know that copyediting is a multifaceted process and that errors easily slip by even the most skilled and trained eyes; I see them in published books all the time).
Issuing a call for submissions is like a puzzle, except that at the start, you don't know wha the questions are, let alone the answers. With the first volume, I received over 200 submissions. I had planned to include 25 plus one of mine, but found I did not have the room given my word count, so the final book has 22 stores by 23 authors (one is co-authored). This year, my aim is to include as much variety as the first volume, perhaps similarly with stories in the first, second and third person, with historical and futuristic stories, but also include aspects of life and sexuality that aren't in abundance in the first volume. That's why I included "stories featuring women in their forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties or nineties." I had an abundance of women in their forties in the first volume, and want to broaden that age range. I made somewhat of a wish list in my call, but what I wish for most of all is the stories I never could have anticipated, the stories that awe me and will stay on readers' minds for a long time to come, the stories that readers will take into their beds and read out loud, or savor to themselves, the stories they will dogear (yes, that is my paperback bias, but I'd also be fine with them "dog-earing" an e-reader or listening on repeat to the audiobook version). My point is, I want these stories to stand the test of time, to be like the books I have owned for a decade or more and still return to when I want to relive a particularly hot, moving tale.
My dream is that I will get the chance to edit many more volumes. Right now, I have no idea if that will happen, and that's okay, because I am working on living in the moment and with reality, not in my own fantasy headspace. So all I can do is spread this call for submissions as far and wide as I can, hopefully reaching around the globe, reaching writers who've never thought of themselves as "erotica writers" but who see something in this call that inspires them, reaching writers in other genres, reaching writers whose work I've previously rejected but whose story fits this particular book. When I do go to put an anthology together, for me that's when the outline of the puzzle really takes shape. I fall for a wonderful paragraph or plotline or character or way of approaching sex (for the latter, see "Waiting to Pee" by Amy Butcher in BWE of the Year, Volume 1).