Wednesday, June 17, 2020

42 Questions for the 42 Stories Anthology

A lot of questions come up at the 42 Stories Anthology.

Q 1: When is the book coming out?

A 1: Soon after we've accepted 1,764 stories. Numbers are periodically updated in a blog here

File:The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.svg - Wikimedia Commons

Q 2: Why 42?

A 2: Great question. Short: It's the answer to the universe. Long: In my teens, a friend recommended I watch the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy miniseries from 1981. I'd never laughed so hard and decided to read all of the books while recovering from my first three of eight back operations. 

The Steampunk and impairment categories were inspired by the fact that I have metal holding my back together and fought to walk again twice. Don't feel bad for me. The latter surgeries in my 20s made me faster and stronger than ever before. 

Through my recovery time, Douglas Adams hooked me into a witty world of insight and inspiration. 

Then, in my 30s, I decided to gather a galaxy of voices, honoring my favorite writer and at the same time helping other authors find publication in this universe of rejection. 

Your writing has value and I want to share it through your 42 words. Side note: I live in Japan where 42 is viewed as an unlucky number. 

Cursed Medallion Squircle | A closeup of a replica medallion… | Flickr

Q 3: Are you interested in doing interviews for the anthology?

A 3: Yes. Definitely. Please make sure the place that does the interviews is interested. 

Q 4: Or how about letting someone post about the book in their blog?

A 4: Some writers already have posted about the anthology. 

Juliette Sebock's 

James Burr:

And more. 

A lot of bloggers and Pod-casters have strict rules and anthologies don't usually make the cut. Ask/post away. Let me know you helped promote the book and I'll figure out a way to thank you.  

Q 5: In 42 words and third person, who are you? 

A 5: B. A. Mullin, or Bam's a PhD student of linguistics at Temple in Osaka, MA in teaching & BA in English, concentration in creative writing. Taught craft of writing/editing for several years, English in Costa Rica, now teaching SLA in Japan.

Q 6: In 42 words, who else is working on the anthology?

A 6: It would take more than 42 words to name everyone. 8 editors and 9 readers are voting on all of the submissions. One is the main editor. One is also the publisher. 10 voting contributors. 10 artists. Also, there are 5 promoters. 

Q 7: Why won't you let me submit multiple stories under the same name?

A 7: Because the theme is 42 and a multiple of 42 by itself is 1,764, so we will have 1,764 names and stories in the book. That said, submit each story believing it might get accepted with pen names included under the title and in the bio. Otherwise, voters would wonder why you sent us a piece you thought would get rejected.  

Confused cartoon kid | Public domain vectors

More. The original plan was: accept one story by different authors. We decided for time sake four stories per writer was okay under the rule each work would have a different pen name. This way writers could send multiple submissions and we still followed the theme of the book. 

Q 8: Do I have to use a pseudonym (pen name) if I only sent one story?

A 8: Nope. Pseudonyms are for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th submissions. Make sure every story you sent uses a different name and you're good on the name front.

Q 9: My story is a good fit for a bunch of your categories. How do I submit the story and follow the subject line guideline?

A 9: Write one category in the subject line, such as PP or Poetic Prose. In your email message, note which categories the piece fits. Two bonus points on this question: 

P1: Please avoid putting more than one category in the subject line. That is merely our method of finding and organizing your story.

P2: Be careful when abbreviating. If you only write C in the subject line, your story could accidentally be categorized in Culture when you meant Clown or Thriller when you meant Tragedy and only wrote T.  

Don't mistake the above two points for guidelines, they're suggestions to help you when submitting a story for the anthology. 

Q 10: Do you still need artists?

A 10: All of the artists have been assigned for the book. However, a cover artist hasn't been assigned, so if you want to do a cover, front and back, for the book you can query us at the submission email

Q 11: Can I send multiple submissions in a bulk email?

A 11: Please don't. In the guidelines, it has specific instructions about the subject line. Part of that guideline lists a category. This is so I know which of the editors and readers to send your work to, so no, you can't send multiple submissions in a bulk email. Doing so makes it extremely difficult on our end. 

Send each submission separately. 

Further, if you emailed rather than used Submittable, the acceptance or rejection email will be in response to your submission. How will you know which story was accepted or rejected if you sent us a bulk email of four submissions?

Q 12: Do I have to include my bio in every submission even if I'm sending multiple stories?

A 12: All submissions are separate, so please send a bio with every submission, especially so your pen name fits. Otherwise, it's going to be difficult to find your bio and you'll be making the editor's job harder. Also, don't try to cheat the pen name guideline by sneaking your real name into your bio. That defeats the purpose of having a pen name and isn't following guidelines requiring multi-submissions to have different names. 

Q 13: When will you respond to my submission?

A 13: Within six months. Please avoid querying before six months. If you've waited longer than six months, email a query about your story with the subject line of your submission included within your email. 

Q 14: What's the Craft of Writing Category?

A 14: It's a special guest writer category. Not stories, rather interviews from writers. The people in this chapter will be the judges for the Story of Excellence. If you feel you have what it takes to enter this category, please email me. However, there's a 1% chance of acceptance into this category. 

Q 15: Are you still accepting stories for this anthology?

A 15: Yes. We have not reached our goal of 1,764 stories after two years of our call for submissions. The book is halfway there however. We'll reach the mark as a team. 

                                           Dodgers Jackie Robinson steals home wall photo | Mr. Littlehand ...

Please relay the submission call to your writer friends so we can get the book out faster: call link.

Q 16: Why are your guidelines so cryptic?

A 16: I'm not some old angry guy with a lit cigar glaring at a screen. Many people work with me to vote on the stories for the anthology, so structure, professionalism, and organization is important. Also, there's only five guidelines repeated in different ways with detailed examples of exactly what to send. The editors help when writers make mistakes rather than shoot back a standard rejection without a reason. If that's cryptic, by all means, send your story somewhere else. 

                          SVG > mad wonderland - Free SVG Image & Icon. | SVG Silh

Q 17: Does the title really have to be 42 characters?

A 17: It has to be between 40 and 44 characters long, so about 42 characters, including spaces and double-checked at Don't physically count the characters. Just use the site we recommend and we will too, matching numbers. 

There was an instance a writer sent a title that was seven characters long. My email requested that the author follow guidelines and I explained the title part was important in order to match the theme of the book. The author's response was, "My title is long enough." A rejection was sent and the story was never read. Please follow the guidelines, or your story will not be considered by us. 

Q 18: Which categories receive the least submissions?

A 18: Indigenous, Sword & Sorcery, Steampunk, Thriller/Suspense, and Mystery respectively. 

Q 19: How can I help my writer friends get their story accepted?

A 19: Refer them to the guidelines and example story. Tell them to format their work correctly. Getting everything right doesn't mean we'll accept the work, but the process is usually much faster when someone follows guidelines. Authors submitting can simply copy the way the example story looks and their story will appear as if it's ready to be added to the book. 

Which do you think an anthology publisher will like more at first glance, a story that looks like it's ready to be added to their book, or a story in a random format within an email? 

Q 20: How will I know my story was accepted?

A 20: Three steps.

1) You'll receive an email of congratulations or notice through Submittable depending on how you submitted your work. Recommendation: Check your spam folder twice a month. You might miss an acceptance from us or someone else.

2) It's important that you reply and accept terms or your story will not be accepted. After about three months of the author not responding to an acceptance invitation the story is considered rejected. However, there is a lot of leeway if they respond later. 

3) Step three is here for comedic purposes only and doesn't count. There are two steps. 

Q 21: How will the Story of Excellence be announced?

A 21: After the special guest judge selects the Story of Excellence, the winner will be emailed, boasted about in a blog, and social media platforms. The winner's story will be highlighted as the featured piece for their respective chapter in the anthology. To save time, it is likely all 42 winners will be announced in one blog. Bonus announcement: There will probably be a video of the winners' stories being read. No confirmation at this time.   

Q 22: My first story was rejected by your voters. Why should I bother sending another story?

A 22: Okay, I completely made this question up, but there are 42 categories. If your first story is turned down, just try writing a new one and sending it to a different category. We want to share your words with the universe, so don't give up over a rejection. 

You know what I do? When my stories gets rejected, I reread the work and make changes, then send the piece elsewhere. That's gotten me over one hundred publications. I'm not bragging, just saying you shouldn't give up. Keep trying. A lot of stories rejected by this anthology have been accepted by other publishers after the person who submitted a story took my advice: revising and sending the story somewhere else. I hope in addition to sending the rejected story somewhere, you'll give our anthology another go with something new, but if you don't we understand. 

Q 23: If I make a mistake when submitting, does that mean my story will be rejected?

A 23: No. It means you'll get an email from me or an editor asking you to make a revision. We all make mistakes and it's no big deal. The only reason you'll get rejected over guidelines is if you're rude about it when we email you for a revision, or don't reply.

Q 24: BAM, are you the publisher of the 42 Stories Anthology?

A 24: MacKENZIE Publishing has stepped in and taken on that role, helping me avoid a lot of red tape so to focus on compiling the anthology and submissions. They offer editorial and proofreading services too. 

Q 25: Which charity is the pot for?

A 25: United Through Reading. The editors, artists, and voters of the 42 Stories Anthology selected this charity.

From their website:

For our military families, the mission of United Through Reading is crucial. The ability to maintain a sense of family unity while they are separated is paramount to their succeeding and thriving. UTR builds resiliency and strength in military families.

Q 26: Why do you send such a nice rejection? Is it a standardized rejection or am I special?

A 26: 3-part answer
P1: It's nice because although hundreds of my stories have been accepted, I've received over 1,000 rejections. The emails that stuck out were rejections encouraging me to submit something else or try another submission call, so I pay the kindness forward to you. The publishers I recommend are places that have accepted and rejected my work and I've built friendships with the editors. 

P2: Yes. 99% of the time I send a standardized rejection message, but I spent over a week thinking of the right words to say and often change a bit depending on the writer. 

P3: Yes, you are special. 

Q 27: Are email attachments okay?

A 27: Your story won't get rejected if you send an email attachment, but it adds more trouble on my end when we get submissions via attachment, so no attachments are preferable

Q 28: How should I format my story?

A 28: There's an example story in the guidelines of exactly how to format your story. Please follow that. Notice the title is capitalized, "by" after the name is lower cased and only the B in "Bio" is capitalized without a colon after it? It'll really help the editing process if you follow the way the example looks rather than making up your own submission method. Your story will look like it was made for the anthology and is ready to be added to the draft. Great first impression.

Q 29: Submittable or email submissions?

A 29: Submittable is faster. Either way is okay though. 

Q 30: You must like sports, having a sports category. Which one is your favorite? Baseball?

A 30: I get it, because Jackie Robinson was number 42. Actually, I like watching basketball the most and doing martial arts: with over twenty years experience in four styles, mostly Tai Chi, hence the inspiration for the fight category. 

Q 31: Which category is your favorite?
A 31: Indigenous. The indigenous voices of the world aren't heard enough in writing and many of their languages and cultures are going to be lost one day (a topic I'm passionate about in my linguistic research). Maybe we can preserve some of who they are through literature?

Q 32: You've read my work, so can I read yours?

A 32: This question has come up a few times surprisingly. Rather than advertise here, readers are free to look up my writing or email me for recommendations. Happy to read more of your words, too, when time allows and in some cases already have seen your work.

Q 33: After you ask for revisions, how long should I take to get back with you?

A 33: 3-month window, but you can send an email just in case you missed it. 

Q 34: So, this anthology doesn't pay everyone and the people it does pay only get 42 cents. Why bother?

A 34: I see this kind of comment on Facebook almost every time a call for submissions is posted. It's very negative. However, valid. Also valid: Many anthologies, journals, etc are charging writers fees. Paying 1,764 people from a one-volume anthology is a great idea, but unrealistic. All of the money put into the book so far is from my pocket too. 42 Stories Anthology is not going to make millions of dollars and maybe not even thousands. Most of the money earned for the book is going to the editors, readers, advertisements, promotions, publishing costs, and charity. Sure, I'm on a high horse here . . .

Yet, instead of looking at money as the only gain in writing, I ask you to consider how readers are going to see a sample of your work and might possibly buy one of your books because of what you have in this anthology. You could get a lifelong fan, which is worth more than 42 cents.

42 Stories Anthology is not a money pit. 

The idea of this project is to help writers and artists get their work out there to new eyes. If you think money is the only gain in writing, than I don't want you to submit to this anthology and I also ask that you keep your negative comments to yourself. 

For everyone else, if this book makes millions of dollars through magic, which is the only way, I'll be happy to share the income with every writer involved. For now, I hope you don't mind just having fun with the theme, name recognition, and practicing craft. 

As someone with microfiction published from journals such as the Oxford Comma Review, Fifty Word Stories, and Flash Fiction Magazine, to name a few, I know for a fact that the publications have gotten me noticed in the writing world by other publishers and they added to my writer portfolio significantly. Editors have emailed me in the past requesting microfiction for their anthology based on what they had read. It does help your chances of getting published elsewhere. 

Q 35: Is there a Facebook group for the anthology?

A 35: There's a private group for authors whose stories have been accepted so they can keep up with the project's progress and stay in touch. No need to worry about an invitation. Soon after a chapter (category) is filled, I'm going to email the authors a link to the group. If you're in a hurry to join, and your story was accepted, please feel free to email me a request for a link and include the byline to your accepted piece(s) in the email. This group has only been available since around August 1, 2020. There's also a like page on Facebook and email list for everyone.

Q 36: Was Jackie Robinson an inspiration for this anthology?

A 36: Coincidence. I like how some writers who have submitted stories were inspired by the connection. 

Q 37: Is there a way to keep up with how many stories are accepted?

A 37: I try to update this blog with anthology numbers bimonthly.

Q 38: If a different version of my story is accepted by a different publication, will you still read/accept what I've submitted?

A 38: By changing the story, you've made a new piece. As long as it doesn't violate terms of the other publisher, you're welcomed to submit the new work for consideration. However, the words you send us can only be sent to the 42 Stories Anthology Project. 

Q 39: Will the writers of the book get free copies?

A 39: Not sure yet. I'm working on a method to allocate free online copies for the authors and artists involved. More information later.

Q 40: Is your favorite number 42?
A 40: No. It's ten digits and starts with a zero. Only two people on the planet aside from me know it. 

Q 41: Can I add my forthcoming information into my bio?

A 41:timeless 42-word third-person bio is recommended. Actually, you should arguably always write a timeless bio. I suggest not putting something like "Such and Such will be released in 2020." You never know when someone will read your story. Include your website in the bio, if you have one, so readers know where to find your work and updates about forthcoming works. Need help writing a bio? Here is a blog on the topic.

Q 42: Do you have any advice for those submitting stories?

A 42: 3-part answer
P1: Definitely follow the guidelines. Also, if you missed something and are asked to revise, don't be rude and please respond in a timely manner.  

P2: Check your spam folder often.

P3: Remember that a rejected story is just that. Never take one personal

Please note: These answers are not set in stone and subject to change. Thanks for reading. Please share the information, let me know if I missed your question, and feel free to ask your friends to send a 42-word story before we accept 1,764. Submittable link here and blog link here

Have more questions? Email them please.

Remember to remember . . .