I’m trying to think if I’ve ever had a true ‘open reading’ period for an anthology before. Obviously Eidolon magazine was always looking for new work, and Jeremy Byrne and I did have a reasonably long open period for the Eidolon anthology. Books like The Starry Rift, Eclipse One and Godlike Machines, though, were all invitation only. Assembling any kind of anthology has different challenges, but when I posted the information about an open reading period for Eclipse Two and Three, I’m not sure I’d really thought it through.
I certainly had clear reasons for having an open reading period, but I don’t know that I ever actually worked out what it would mean. As those who are interested know, the reading period runs for the month of February (1-29), which seemed reasonable last Thursday. Since it began I’ve received just over 100 submissions, and could well be on target to get 400 or so submissions. That’s potentially four million words of stories (don’t laugh Charles). I’m more than a little overwhelmed.
At the moment I’m also reading through Ellen Datlow’s The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy, which so far is my favorite of her recent anthologies (Inferno is great, but I’m not a true horror fan and this one is better than Salon Fantastique, which was good). Traveling through the stories while occasionally reading submissions seems to be giving me some kind of barometer as I go. I find myself comparing, checking in, and so on.
I am, for what it’s worth, trying to respond quickly too, even though the reading period doesn’t officially start till 1 March. I figure it’s best, rather than letting things build up. This means, usually, that the longer it takes to hear from me, the better things are. Also, if you hear from me very quickly, this doesn’t mean I didn’t fully consider your story. For example, I was at work yesterday, having my lunch break. I had nothing to read with me, but five new submissions had come in that morning and were sitting in my web-mail account, so I read and responded to them all. Hopefully, if I can, I’ll keep things going at that pace.
As to whether I’d hold another open reading period in future – I don’t know. This is almost certainly the only one for Eclipse for the next few years. We’ll see about other things as time goes on. Oh, and a special note to Eclipse invitees. I still want your stories, desperately. Please don’t think ‘he has 400 stories and doesn’t need mine’. I do.