Lessons in Publishing
In the fall of 2019, Mannison Press published our inaugural anthology, Little Girl Lost: Thirteen Tales of Youth Disrupted. It was an exciting time! Our new line of Minibooks had been launched, we had enough stories queued up to carry us into the new year, and ideas were free-flowing for future projects. Then, right around the time the anthology was released, the question was posed: “Will there be a companion volume for Little Girl Lost?”
It didn’t really require discussion.
In fact, it rather went without saying.
Little Boy Lost was already percolating.
What caught this fledgling indie publisher off guard, however, was how vastly different this project would be. All the framework was in place, all the templates were there, all the SOPs established…what could go wrong? We were riding the high of a modestly successful launch and jumped in with both feet, but quickly became victims of our own enthusiasm…then became victims of circumstance.
Little Girl Lost was released in mid-October, which was absolutely ideal for a collection of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and crime fiction stories. We had had an amazing response to our first submission call and there was a fair bit of buzz (considering how new we were). As such, we decided to take advantage of the momentum and announced Little Boy Lost a month later, opening submissions in early December.
Lesson one: Don’t compete with the holidays.
Due to the distractions of the holiday season, submissions were much slower than our first go ’round. It took a lot more effort to rouse interest this time, but we still managed to drum up a solid number of submissions with some fabulous stories (as you are soon to discover). Overall sales also slowed to a trickle, and we acknowledged we would have to scrounge for funding in order to put together another anthology. Our first crowdfunding campaign got the job done, right?
Lesson two: Post-holiday slump is real.
January really is no good for sales or funding. Everyone’s tapped. As such, we set the next campaign for February. The holiday hangover will have run its course and we’ll be entering the month of love and good will! (Or so we thought.) We created a new campaign and put the word out.
Lesson three: Asking for money is humbling.
The first time was exciting. “Hi, we’re new! Help us find our feet!” The second time, though? That was hard. We’re still new but not shiny; we are growing but going through the awkward stage. Friends and family were stepping up, though, and we had hopes they might provide enough support to help see the project through. We extended the campaign to maximize potential contributions, but then…
…then the world shut down. Like, the whole world.
Lesson four: You can’t predict epic crises of humanity.
A global pandemic had gripped us—COVID-19, a.k.a. Coronavirus, you might’ve heard of it—and suddenly we felt like bedraggled panhandlers begging for change outside a burning building. The final two weeks of crowdfunding slipped silently by and the campaign closed unceremoniously.
Lesson five: God bless family and friends.
Fortunately, we’re plucky, and we have people in our lives who support our publishing venture. A few generous benefactors came forward to help finance the project. If it hadn’t been for them the entire project might have tanked, but thanks to their support, we were breathing a little easier by mid-April. Little Boy Lost had finally achieved solid footing.
So, what have we managed to pull together through all of this? You’ll find that this anthology is similar to the first in thematic elements and the multi-genre approach. However, as with every good sequel, it’s expanded upon the original. More stories. New genres. And now we’re multi-national.
As before, you’ll find creative horror and riveting science fiction, high and low fantasy and captivating storylines, coming from authors all across the United States and Canada. Only this time, you will also encounter contorted reality, gripping drama, even—even!—a sweet kiss of romance…and we’ve crossed an ocean to bring you stories from authors in the United Kingdom.
Lesson six: It’s all still worth it.
Ron Linson and I are now absolutely thrilled to present to you this exciting new anthology, Little Boy Lost: More Tales of Youth Disrupted. We hope you enjoy it as much as the first one. Perhaps even more. We worked hard, dang it.
Deidre J Owen
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