Right now I'm in the process of wrapping up the manuscript I'm submitting to my publisher, Cleis Press, for Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 3 (they have final approval over all stories), and then later this month I'll be issuing the call for submissions for Volume 4 (first to my newsletter subscribers, then everywhere else; if you're not a subscriber, you can get on the list on the left-hand side of this blog or at rachelkramerbussel.com). In the meantime, though, what would be very helpful is to know what those who've read Volume 1 or Volume 2 thought: the good, the bad, the ugly. Why? Because without readers, I wouldn't edit anthologies. The readers are the whole point, and the only way I really know which stories resonated and which didn't is from reader feedback.
The ideal way to let me know is by leaving a public review, which also lets other potential readers glean your opinion. You can leave a review of Volume 1 on Amazon or Goodreads and of Volume 2 on Amazon or Goodreads. You don't have to have bought the book on Amazon to leave a review there; you just need to have an Amazon account you've purchased from before. Now, when I say "help me edit," I don't mean I'm crowdsourcing which story to pick over another. I use my instinct and intuition and what I think makes for a good anthology to do that.
Rather, I like to know which stories resonated most with readers; which they liked, which they didn't, what they want to see more of, what they want to see less of. Yes, even reviews that praise some stories and savage others are helpful. Obviously, I'm a fan of all the stories I publish, but I do take into account the most liked and the least liked as I make decisions for future anthologies. Yet the only way I can know which ones are popular is from reader opinions, which helps guide me in my general selections. So if everyone loves the historical stories, I will consider adding more; if people want to see more femdom, or more queer stories, or more literary stories, or longer stories, or whatever it is, I want to take that into account when I make my selections. Right now, I'm only contracted to edit up to Volume 4, but my dream is to get to edit 10 volumes in the series and publish 200+ authors in the process, and your reviews help me with that goal because more reviews equals more discoverability equals more sales, equals I can make a better case for why I'm a kickass editor. When I say "make a better case" I mean both to my publisher and to myself. Plus it gives me more funds to pay authors (pay is going up to $200/story for Volume 4), organize events and generally spread the word about the series.
My goal with the series hasn't been just to throw any old books out into the world, but to learn as much myself about the anthology editing process as I can with each one, to better amplify the voices of my authors online and offline, and to bring these stories into the mainstream in every way I can. I would love to see more stores stocking erotica, like the 52 independent bookstores that have stocked Volume 2. I would like to see erotica treated as legitimately as any other genre. And I want to encourage women who might not think of themselves as "erotica writers" (or even "writers" necessarily) to submit work to the series. That's why I only allow authors who haven't been published in prior Best Women's Erotica of the Year books to submit work; I'm sure past authors have brilliant stories to tell, but my aim is to publish as many authors as I can. So your reviews also help me with that goal because the more readers who know about the series, the greater the pool of potential people who'll consider sending me their work.
I do my best to improve with each book, both with the breadth of stories, what I provide for my authors and how much I do to get the books out into the world. I'll soon be going into brainstorming mode for Volume 3 so I can have it make even more of a splash than 1 and 2, and then will be crafting Volume 4, so your feedback counts greatly. If you'd prefer to email me, you can at firstname.lastname@example.org - thank you! I truly appreciate everyone who's shared their thoughts.
For those who want a free sample of Volume 2, here's some ways to get a peek:
Listen to sexy San Francisco erotica story "Taste" by Jocelyn Bringas as read by Rose Caraway on her podcast The Kiss Me Quick's!
Read a free sample of lesbian BDSM erotica story "Wordless Surrender" by Janelle Reston.
Read an excerpt of kinky opera erotica story "Performance" by Jordan Monroe.