Reblog: The Story Behind The Stories #004 – Sudden Insight Publishing’s 2016 Anthology

Dawn came up with a great idea last year. She suggested that we put together an anthology, solicit all the authors we could reach out to for submissions, and donate all of the profits to the SPCA. Our newest family member was a gift from their compassionate no-kill program. The love of our adorable little forever puppy prompted us to try to give back. The ebook version of Paws for a Tale is now available, and the print version is in its final stages of approval.

We learned a lot from Paws for a Tale. It was a wonderful experience overall, but there were definitely some unforeseen hurdles. Luckily, we specialize in learning here at Sudden Insight Publishing; we know that’s the best way to turn any problem into growth. So we learned; and in learning, we realized that we were really enjoying this whole ‘putting together an anthology’ process. Before the first was even close to done, we were already talking about how we could make putting the next one together a more user-friendly system for both us (referred to henceforth as ‘the publisher’) and the talent (referred to henceforth as ‘the contributor’ or ‘the contributors’).

Allow me to appear to digress for a bit, if you will. Stick with me; I promise to bring it back around.

As a writer, I found that short stories were right up my alley. I had the same concerns as Dawn: Can I work within minimum and maximum word count requirements (we weren’t really worried about minimums, honestly)? Can I nail a deadline, like everyone else has to? Can I write introductions to all the stories without starting mine off ‘TA-DAAA! HERE’S THE MOST AMAZING PHILOSOPHICAL FANTASY SHORT STORY EVER EVER EVER!!!’ or ‘oh yeah, our resident author stuck something he wrote in here too’?

Lo and behold, I love deadlines and parameters in writing as much as I do in any other project-oriented line of work. So I asked Dawn to start looking for writing contests, and sticking some guidelines for different contests in my inbox. We already entered the Sacramento Writers’ Club 2016 Short Short Story Contest, with a Zombie Zero tie-in; we’re looking for more to enter. Oh yeah, and…

2016 Anthology Twitter Card copy

We’re having our own writing contest! It will be a part of the plan for putting together our next anthology. (See? I told you I’d bring it back around; thanks for trusting me.) We’re going to have a writing contest, and here are all of the rules and details that we have come up with so far:

To begin: there will be cash prizes for first, second and third place selections. There will be no entry fee, and no ties; first place will receive $100; second place will receive $50, and third place will receive $25. The top eight stories will be included in the anthology, and those eight authors will be under contract with Sudden Insight Publishing concerning their submission. The other submissions will be released of all expectations and obligations concerning their stories as soon as the final selection is made.

Geez, Jay, what’s with all the legal mumbo jumbo? Sorry; if you’re not an author interested in the contest and the anthology, the rest of this post might be a touch boring. I won’t blame you if you bail. On the other hand, if you’re an author who only came here for these details, go up a paragraph and start with ‘To begin:’ Now, back to it…

The only big expectation or obligation that I think it’s fair to have is that authors submit an original work that has never been made available anywhere else, and never will be made available anywhere else if selected for inclusion. There are a lot of reasons for this, and we are happy to hear any and all input and feedback; but I think it’s safe to say we’ll be standing firm on this. One of the reasons I think it’s important is that we are doing an even split of all profits between all contributors. If one author makes their story available to another anthology, or their newsletter subscribers, it dilutes the integrity of the entire project. Once the stories that will be included are selected, everyone else can do whatever they want with their submissions. The contributors will sign contracts, and the book will get published as an original collaborative work. The profits will be split evenly between all ten contributors.

Is that bad math? No. There will be eight slots available for contest entrants. I will be taking the ninth slot, and writing a short story for inclusion in the anthology. I am not eligible to enter the contest, since I am on the panel of judges; but my spot is a lock. Hopefully that balances things out. The tenth spot is the publisher’s. We will be the ones incurring all the costs, sifting through all the stories, and putting in all the time required to format and edit and produce the ebook and print products. I tried to insist that Dawn take the tenth spot, and have a clear stake in this for-profit publication; but she deferred her spot to Sudden Insight Publishing. So I deferred my spot to the same thing, in hopes that we can use what we bring in for promotion and advertising. That’s just more good news for contributors. This is a way for us to all grow together, and our collective ongoing commitment to this project translates in many ways to a collective ongoing commitment to the contributors.

Also, the winners of cash prizes will be forever listed on our website as having placed in or won a Sudden Insight Publishing writing contest. You know, because credits are always nice.

Just a few more things. Hang in there.

The rules will be pretty rigid on this project, but only as far as some things go. The word count for entries must be six thousand to ten thousand words. If we get too many entries, we might not have time to go through the ones that are too long or too short; if we do, and we really like the story, we might end up asking for a rewrite or making some cuts. That’s a lot of ‘if’s’ for a story to survive just to get considered; I ask that contributors keep it in mind: 6,000 to 10,000 words, please.

Hey, what about the fun part? What’s the theme? What’s the title? Well, we have a working title, and we definitely have a theme. We will share the title when the final selections are announced; let’s talk about the theme now.

We want stories about technology. They can be period pieces about some ancient invention, or a futuristic device; they can be about humans or aliens or faeries (or demons and angels, or zombies!) or whatever other kind of life form you relate to, in whatever version of reality you want to put them in. The character or characters should be involved in or affected by some technology in a meaningful manner; other than that, it’s wide open. (By the way, I won’t have any monsters or supernaturals in my story; just normal folks dealing with technology. Have at it, if that’s your thing!)

Also, we want stories aimed at an adult audience; but we don’t want super-graphic sex or violence, or excessive vulgarity. By the same token, we aren’t going to include a story obviously aimed at a young audience unless it deals with some mature issues and really knocks our socks off. Remember, I said no excessive vulgarity…that means that a little vulgarity is fine if it helps tell the story. Think late night cable, or most of the books that get published(outside of romance, of course; if the point of your love story is that it’s a love story, you’re missing the point of the theme. If there’s love or relationship in your story, well…welcome to the majority of everything ever written. That’s fine.) Or better yet, think PG-13 movies; and remember that your story is just one scene. (That means don’t use the three to five really nasty words allowable up in your story.)

And…one last thing. We will be posting about this all through March. We will be accepting submissions April 1st through June 30th. Deadline cutoff is 11:59PM PST on June 30th. We will announce the winners of the contest, as well as the full list of contributors, on July 31st. The projected publication date is November 4th, 2016.

Thanks for hanging in there. For more information about submitting your story, please visit our anthology page – Sudden Insight Anthology. In the meantime, please direct any and all comments or questions regarding the contest and the anthology to: or

As always, thanks for reading!

All the best,
Author, editor
Sudden Insight Publishing

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