This week, I chat with editor/publisher Bart Lieb about Crossed Genres.
Bart R. Leib is co-publisher and founder of Crossed Genre Publications. Bart’s fiction has been published in M-Brane SF Magazine and the anthology Beauty Has Her Way from Dark Quest Books (2011). His nonfiction has been published by Fantasy Magazine. He is a regular article contributor to Science in My Fiction.
Bart lives in Somerville, MA with his wife Kay and their son Bastian. When he’s not writing, editing or playing with his son, Bart is… sleeping. That’s all he has time for.
ANTHONY: Bart, thanks for taking the time to chat! Let’s start out with a quick description of Crossed Genres for my readers. What is the imprint’s goal? What sets it apart from other genre anthology publishers?
BART: Crossed Genres started out as a magazine; each issue crossed science fiction & fantasy with another genre or theme. Our first issue was published in December 2008. We retired the magazine in December after the 36th issue.
We retired the magazine so that we could focus on the publication of novels and anthologies. We’ve released two novels in the past 14 months (A Festival of Skeletons by RJ Astruc, and Broken Slate by Kelly Jennings), as well as anthologies and quarterlies of stories from the magazine. Our schedule now includes 4-6 novels/anthologies per year.
From the very beginning Crossed Genres has worked to support and promote underrepresented people in our publications. The magazine had issues dedicated to LGBTQ characters, characters of color, and the big final issue’s theme was DIFFERENT. Our upcoming anthology Fat Girl in a Strange Land has fat women as the protagonists, something almost never seen in literature. Giving voice to underrepresented authors and characters is a trend that will continue in CG’s future.
ANTHONY: After several years of magazine publishing, Crossed Genre’s first anthology is Subversion, which became available in December. I’ve included a description of the book at the top of the post. What was the submission process like? Was it invite-only, open submission, or both? Were there any authors you specifically pursued?
BART: Subversion was our first invitation-only anthology. After a couple of years of publishing, we had worked with a number of very talented authors, and I felt comfortable that we could get an excellent body of work from invitations. 44 authors were invited to submit, and I received 36 submissions, from which I chose the 16 in the antho.
I will say that, while I was extremely pleased with the submissions I got – I had to turn down some good stories because the anthology was too full – I did miss the process of open submissions somewhat. We’ve always loved getting submissions from unknown authors, & getting to publish talented people for the first time – it’s been one of the best things about being a publisher! In the future I think most if not all of our publications will be at least partly filled with open submissions. (Our upcoming anthology Fat Girl in a Strange Land was open submissions.)
ANTHONY: I know I asked you this in the #sffwrtcht on Twitter when you were the featured guest, but I’m hoping you can elaborate a bit now that you have more than 140 characters: what differences are there in the submission and selection process for the anthologies you have coming out versus the magazine issues?
BART: Well the magazine was always open submissions, which as I mentioned before wasn’t true for Subversion. The big difference was that the magazine had a much quicker turnaround time. We would accept submissions for an issue one month, then the following month we’d have to make our selections & edit the stories for release the first day of the following month. That breakneck pace made the process kind of harrowing from our perspective. By comparison, the same part of the process for an anthology is spread out over 6-8 months. How we select stories is basically the same: We pick what we feel are the best written stories that best represent the genre or theme.
There were a very few times during the magazine’s run where we rejected stories which we felt had enormous potential because they were too rough and needed a lot of rewriting – because of the magazine’s turnaround we simply didn’t have the time to wait for the author to do the rewrites. I’ve regretted that, and fortunately with anthologies and novels we can take the time to work with authors on improvements more. It was one of the reasons we decided to retire the magazine.
ANTHONY: I think editors hate when I ask this question, but what is your procedure for determining story sequence (in a magazine issue and an anthology if the process differs from one format to another)?
BART: Haha, story sequence is hard to explain. Most importantly, you need a big hook in the first story, to grab the reader; a good follow-up second story to prove the first wasn’t a fluke; and a closing story that really represents the theme perfectly. It’s an extremely subjective process and it’s a bit different for each anthology or issue. Plus, if an issue only has 5 or 6 stories, that can be very different to put together than something like an anthology with 14-20 stories.
I highly recommend reading Jennifer Brozek’s blog about the subject.
ANTHONY: Subversion is just the first anthology from Crossed Genres. What’s coming in the rest of 2012?
(Crossed Genres will be represented at both conventions mentioned above.)
In early September, we’re releasing our next novel, INK by Sabrina Vourvoulias.
Our next release after that will be MENIAL: Skilled Labor in SF in Jan/Feb 2013, which I’ll talk about in the next question…
ANTHONY: How can writers submit for upcoming anthologies?
BART: We’re currently only open for novel submissions. However, we’re now open to submissions for MENIAL: Skilled Labor in SF. Submission guidelines can be found HERE.
ANTHONY: For novels, do you have an open slush pile policy or a specific reading period?
BART: Novel submissions are generally open all the time. If we get too overwhelmed – if our publication schedule fills up too far out – we may close novel subs for a while, but at the moment that doesn’t look likely. Send us your novels!
ANTHONY: And for my usual closing question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who has never read it to convince them that they should?
If I had to pick one, I’d say Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes. The gradual unfolding of the main character’s intellect, and the triumphs and pain the process brings, creates one of the finest and most sympathetic characters I’ve ever read.
You can follow Bart on Twitter as @MetaFrantic for the latest on Crossed Genre.