Guest Post: Jennifer Lee Rossman on Editing an Anthology for the First Time

In anticipation and excitement for Love and Bubbles, an anthology featuring LGBTQ+ stories from under the sea, I have a treat for my blog readers. Jennifer Lee Rossman is the co-editor for the anthology, and she has previously been featured on this blog talking about a story she wrote for a different anthology, and I am excited to feature her again on my blog. So take it away Jennifer, on your first experience editing an anthology:

Hi, I’m Jennifer Lee Rossman, co-editor of Love & Bubbles, an anthology of queer romance under the sea, along with Jaylee James.

I joined the L&B team in January, after I had a burst of confidence and got the idea to edit my own anthology. Jaylee wisely talked me into assisting first, because it’s more work than I was expecting. And boy, is it.

The first thing that surprised me was the sheer volume of submissions. I think Jaylee said e got 67, which doesn’t sound like a lot until it takes up your entire inbox and you’re like, “I think there’s an email from my grandma in here somewhere?”

And so I entered Slush Pile Hell, which consists of reading through the submissions and making sure they followed the guidelines: word count under 6,000, no explicit sex or violence or homophobia, no extensive editing needed…

Also making sure they were actually romances under the sea! I couldn’t believe it, but people submitted stories that were neither romances nor sea-related (one of my comments included the phrase “a glass of water was mentioned once, but that’s as close to the ocean as it gets”)! Some were quite good, just not for our book.

But when we got a good one, that made me laugh out loud and email Jaylee with comments like “Omg, can we keep it! Can we keep it!”… Those moments made it all worthwhile.

After I’d told Jaylee “toss,” “love,” or “maybe” to my part of the slush pile, we got to narrowing down the choices. This was when we started sending panicky emails about “What if we don’t have enough?” and “We have too many lesbian stories – should we turn it into a lesbian-only anthology?”

We decided against that because it would exclude some really great stories featuring heterosexual and nonbinary pairings, but not having enough stories was still a serious concern. There was briefly talk of having another submission call, but we finally found eleven stories we loved, and a few that needed work but will be included if we reach the stretch goal on the Kickstarter.

This is when the real “fun” started. Up to now, it had just been the two of us, but now we had to deal with… dun dun dun… people.

As a writer, it’s so illuminating to see the editorial process from the other side. I never realized that people actually argued with rejection letters, or declined the chance to be in books because they didn’t have time for extensive editing, or sent emails to editors to gently criticize their marketing techniques.

But the vast majority of people have been so lovely and enthusiastic, and I instantly felt so maternal and protective about the authors we picked.

I can’t speak to the behind the scenes parts of marketing, formatting, etc. I just did the mood boards and the cross stitch. All I know is “Hey are you good at math?” is one of the more terrifying messages you can get first thing in the morning.

We’re putting a lot of work into making Love & Bubbles the best it can be, and we’re so excited for people to read these amazing stories.

*****

Thank you Jennifer for your awesome guest post. You can pre-order Love and Bubbles by following this link: http://gumroad.com/jayleejames

Thank you for reading!

All the best,

M

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