I've been sick on and off the past week, and right now I have a moderate fever and half the muscles in my body are burning with knots. Don't worry, I'll survive, and if not there's nothing your worrying can do to stop it. Seriously, though, I've had worse, and I hope to be back on my feet in a day or two.
Now, while I'm trapped at my desk and unable to do much else, I'm reading through the latest batch of submissions for Altered America. A lot have been pouring in over the past week, and that was a welcoming sign, as I've been facing a shortage of submissions to this collection. However, as I pick through story after story, I find a lot of stories that simply aren't want I'm looking for.
I hate to reject otherwise good stories, but the vast majority of the newest batch are not right for this collection. It seems a lot of writers have overlooked or ignored the entire premise of the anthology: "Tales of Alternate History and Forgotten Possibilities." Apparently, they skim over the "Alternate History" section and focus on "Possibilities," and have submitted a lot of interesting stories that just don't fit what I'm trying to create here. In a few cases, writers put together stories that may qualify as "Alternate," but they don't explain the history sufficiently to make it work.
Maybe this is my fault, for not being more explicit in saying that I'm after "Alternate History," for this collection. I thought saying it was a collection of "Tales of Alternate History..." would have been plain enough, though apparently a lot of people don't understand what that means.
Is Alternate History a genre that is so hard to write? I have to wonder. Perhaps those who write it are simply above my pay grade? I'm sorry I can't afford to pay you professional rates and spend millions of dollars promoting authors like I wish I could. I'm not working for a big New York firm. I'm just trying to produce fiction that is worth reading, based on specific themes that create some uniformity and hopefully market appeal. The fact that I'm deep in the Red right now isn't the point, but I'd hope that people would refrain from sending me nasty letters, mocking me for trying. Yes, I've gotten a few unsolicited notes over the past year, condescending comments complaining that I'm "trying to rip people off" because I'm not offering 6 cents a word, and deriding me for "not helping to advance their careers." As if I'm raking in a living off of this! It is pretty pathetic for someone to waste their time to attack a small publisher like this. I'm glad it is infrequent, but it should be never.
Okay, enough ranting. I have a lot to consider. So many good stories that just don't fit; it's a damn shame, but I can't compromise the contents of the anthology too much. It wouldn't be fair to the consumers who will buy this expecting to get "Alternate History."