Aether Beyond the Binary FAQ

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What is Duck Prints Press?

Duck Prints Press LLC is a small, independent press based in New York State, USA. Claire Houck (aka Nina Waters, aka unforth) is the managing member/owner and is the lead editor for this project. Our founding vision is to work collaboratively with fanwork creators who wish to publish their original work. You can learn more about us here.

What is this anthology?

“Aether Beyond the Binary” is the newest collaborative project from Duck Prints Press, an anthology featuring characters outside the gender binary living and adventuring and experiencing while living on aetherpunk Earth during modern and near-future era.

Who will be creating the stories for this anthology? How will contributors be selected?

20 authors will be selected to write stories between 5,000 and 7,500 words aligned with the project theme. 10 of these authors will be “returners”—authors who have previously completed stories with Duck Prints Press—and 10 will be new to the Press. Returning authors will be selected based on a review of pitches submitted by all interested returners; new authors will be asked to submit a story sample of no more than 1,500 words and a story pitch aligned with the anthology’s themes. Three readers will rate the story sample on a rubric (which you can see here), the results will be standardized and averaged, and the ten top-rated authors will be invited to contribute. You can review the full guidelines here.

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What is the timeline for this project?

You can see the schedule here.

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Will authors be paid?

Yes. Authors will be paid $75 USD per story for works between 5,000 and 7,500 words. The rights we ask for in exchange for these payments are outlined in our contracts—basically, we request worldwide First English Publication rights for e-books and print for a period of one year. Other “first” rights (such as audio book) are not requested. You can see a sample of the author contract here.

During our crowdfunding campaign, we’ll include stretch goals aimed at raising enough funds to increase the contributor pay. If we reach these stretch goals, contributor payments will increase in $75 USD increments as each goal is reached, to a maximum of $600 USD per contributor.

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Will story rights revert to the authors post-publication?

Absolutely. We encourage you to review the sample Author Contract that we’ve provided publicly; for anthologies we request First English Electronic and Print Publishing rights, with exclusivity for a period of one year post publication.

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Will contributors receive a copy of the anthology?

Yes, contributors will receive a free e-book of the anthology (in ePub and PDF formats).

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How will the anthology be sold?

Copies of the digest-sized trade paperback book (5.5″ x 8.5″) and related merchandise will initially be available during a crowdfunding campaign; subsequent to campaign fulfillment, the book will also be available on our website as an e-book, and also potentially as print-on-demand. We tentatively expect the campaign to open during the fall of 2023, and the campaign will run for one month. We have not yet decided on which platform we’ll hold the crowdfunding campaign, but most likely it will be on either Kickstarter or Indiegogo. An “extra merchandise” sale may be held once campaign fulfillment is complete, if we have any extras available; alternatively, extras may be retained as prizes/extras for future campaigns.

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Where will net profits from anthology sales go?

If there are any net profits from the anthology, they will be re-invested in Duck Prints Press to help us grow the business and to fund the creation of future projects.

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What formats will the anthology be available in?

The anthology will be available as a digest-sized trade paperback book (5.5″ x 8.5″), and in ePub and PDF formats.

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What extras and merchandise will there be?

The precise list of extras and merchandise will depend on our success recruiting artists and on how well we meet our funding goals. We are also considering interior artwork for the anthology, pending the management team making decisions and recruiting artists.

We are currently planning to offer the book for sale in e-book and trade paperback formats, some merchandise on a pick-and-choose basis, and at least one “bundle” option that includes both the book and some or all of the merchandise. Merchandise will likely include at least one art print, a bookmark, an enamel pin, a die-cut sticker, and a key chain. We will announce the full list of available “extras” closer to the launch date of the crowdfunding campaign. You can see our current, tentatively proposed merchandise by reviewing the posted draft budget.

What purchase options will I have?

You will be able to buy the book, with or without merchandise/extras. The books will be available in print as a digest-sized trade paperbacks, and in ePub and PDF formats. If we receive feedback requesting other e-book formats we will consider offering those as well, depending how many requests we receive. Specific backing levels, costs, and options will be determined in more detail closer to when we launch the campaign.

What is aetherpunk?

We got asked this so many times that we wrote an entire blog post to answer it!

How different from “our” Earth can I make the Earth in my story? Does it have to be an alternate history that diverges from our own timeline, or can we go full “Final Fantasy” and craft another world that has ended up at approximately modern tech levels by going its own path?

Note: the second question in the title is copied and pasted from an question we were asked on Discord, so credit for the wording goes to the person there who asked. The answer is a combination of what I wrote and what another Duck Prints Press staff writer wrote.

Great question! We’re looking for stories that are basically about modern Earth. Like, history could have diverged ages ago, but there should be enough elements that are recognizable. Think of it more like “canon divergence” Earth and not just “a planet that has a vaguely Earth-like climate but completely different history.” If aether was discovered and harnessed a long time ago, the world could be very different politically, socially, physically, economically, etc., since the world’s development would change (potentially profoundly!) from the point when aether was found. As such, we’re giving a fair degree of latitude on what “counts,” but stories should be set on our Earth at roughly the same moment in Earth’s existence as we are in now.

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Do I have to write for a specific fandom, ship, kink, or trope to be eligible to apply to the anthology?

Not at all! As long as you meet the minimum requirements, are a fanwriter, and are prepared to write a new original story in line with the anthology theme, what fandoms/ships/whatnot you’ve written for in the past are irrelevant to us.

I’m interested in applying, but I want to know more about the possible tax and legal ramifications of being paid for this anthology.

The tax and legal ramifications depend on where the author lives and what the laws are there. Note that we are neither tax professionals nor lawyers; this answer is not the equivalent of advice from a CPA or member of the bar. If you have concerns, we highly recommend that you contact a professional.

For authors in the US:

Authors on this project are hired as Independent Contractors and do not qualify as employees. You can read more about the differences between independent contractors and employees, as defined by US federal law, here. If authors earn $600 or more from Duck Prints Press in a year, we will issue you a 1099-NEC or 1099-Misc (as appropriate) and file it with the IRS in January, 2024.

For authors outside the US:

For most international contributors, we will not need to file a 1042-S or 1042-T, which are the applicable tax forms related to paying independent contractors who are neither US residents nor US citizens. These forms only apply if taxes would have been withheld from an equivalent US contractor, and also their applicability depends on the terms of the tax treaty that the United States has with the author’s country of residence. Most countries, as we understand it, the terms are that as long as the contractor is a citizen in residence for at least half the year, they only owe income tax in their own countries, and Duck Prints Press does not have a reporting requirement. However, others countries will have their own reporting requirements on income earned. The Press isn’t responsible for this reporting, as we don’t have operations in any country outside the US (we’d only have to pay taxes abroad if we had a physical presence there, such as an office or storefront). Provided you meet the definition of an independent contractor in your country (which you almost certainly will—we’ve checked over a dozen countries and they all have similar requirements) we still recommend you check how much you have to make in your own country before you are required to report the earnings to the government. For example, in the US, the most an independent contractor can earn before they have to report their income to the government is US$600; in Canada, it’s CA$500. In practice, we’re unlikely to meet minimums in most countries, but as failing to report your income could have legal consequences, it behooves you to please check. Many of the resources related to this topics aren’t available in English, so we’re not able to check for you!

Note that, regardless of which country you reside in, if you work for us as an independent contractor you will not qualify for the protections that apply to “workers.” For example, in the US that means that if you were injured as a result of working on this anthology (…your desk collapses on you?) you wouldn’t qualify for Worker’s Compensation and that we don’t put money into Social Security on your behalf. You aren’t our employee and we’re not your employer – you are an independent contractor, and we are the company contracting you, so you won’t qualify for many employee benefits or protections.

Because of local rules we may not be able to hire people from some countries, but we will do our best to research and ensure that, from our end, all legal requirements are met. We hope not to have to turn anyone away based on their country of residence, but international law is extremely complicated…we’re doing our best!

We hope this helps clarify some basic questions as regard tax and legal issues related to this project. Feel free to contact us with questions, and if you have concerns, consult a professional.

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Are there any issues related to international Intellectual Property rights that I should be aware of?

There are several international treaties and agreements in place that should protect both us and you. The most notable applicable ones are the Berne Convention and the Agreement of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (or TRIPS). As long as your country has signed on to at least one of those agreements, we shouldn’t have any issues with the rights assignments outlined in the author contract. However, it wouldn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with the intellectual property laws in your own country, to be sure that you’ve correctly protected your copyright and rights (for example, not every country automatically grants copyright to an author and you may need to register your copyright in some fashion). We’re not lawyers and nothing we say here should be construed as legal advice—this is simply our understanding, based on the research we’ve done. If you have concerns about the rights assignments outlined in the author contract you should consult a lawyer.

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I’ve got original characters I’ve included in my fanfictions, or have written original works that I’ve shared that include my own characters—may I use those characters in my story for this anthology?

For this specific anthology, no. We want all of these stories to be brand new, not based on any existing works that have ever been shared. If you’ve got a favorite original character (OC) that you’ve written about but never published or shared any of the works, those characters you’d be welcome to use, but if the character has been featured in any existing work—either fanfiction or original fiction—we’d ask you not to use them for this project. We may change this ruling for future publications, though, so keep those stories with your OCs in mind!

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This anthology doesn’t sound like my cup of tea but I’d potentially be interested in writing original stories about other themes—will you be doing other anthologies in the future?

We absolutely will be! We’re currently aiming to publish three to four anthologies a year. Each will have a different theme—and some will be dark, or horror, or erotica, or, or, or. We’re a multi-genre publisher and open to all types of fiction (and to poetry and non-prose writing!) so if outside-the-binary aetherpunk isn’t your thing, it’s entirely possible our next anthology will be! We encourage you to sign up for our mailing list if you’d like to get an e-mail when we’re next recruiting authors.

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What format should I use for the writing sample on the author application?

Our author application is a Google form, and you’ll be asked to attach your writing sample file directly to the form (the form cannot accept a link). It’s set up to allow the following formats:

  • word documents (it definitely works .doc and .docx, and we think it will work for .rtf, .txt, and other common types of documents)
  • PDFs
  • direct transfer from your Google drive—since the form is a Google form, it can link directly to your personal g-drive and you can add files from it.

Story pitches are posted directly in a form question, so have them ready to copy and paste into place!

Please let us know if you’ve got another format you’d like to use to submit, or if you have any trouble with adding your file, and we’ll try to troubleshoot the issue with you.

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I’m not 18 yet but I’d like to get involved. What are my options?

While we’re not able to work with individuals under 18 for multiple reasons, we absolutely do want to encourage young writers—and when you do turn 18, you’re immediately eligible and we’d love to hear from you. As such, we recommend that you follow one (or more) of our social media accounts and/or sign up for our mailing list (you can find all our social media and our mailing list sign up on our Contacts Page). Also, we’d love to hear from you on some of our smaller events—for example, we host #drabbledaysaturday weekly on our Twitter, and there’s no age restriction on that. And keep writing! You’ll only improve in the meantime. We know how hard it is to wait, but don’t worry—when the time comes, we’ll still be here, and you’ll be ready.

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If I’m not accepted, may I tweak my submission piece and use it again when you next recruit authors for an anthology?

Absolutely! There’s no requirement that subsequent applications include a different writing sample. Further, once we’ve sent out rejection and acceptance letters, all applicants are invited to request copies of the rubrics we used to rate fics. If you’d like yours, we encourage you to ask for it and use it to refine and improve your story for the future!

Do writing samples have to be written in standard US English? What about stories in the anthology?

Writing samples can be in any English dialect—US English, British, Australian, AAVE, or any others. For the anthology, we need to discuss that as a team and decide, as we hadn’t previously decided if stories had to be in US English. Certainly, our Press is open to manuscripts in any English dialect (and non-English languages, provided we have people involved in the Press who are fluent enough in the language in question to edit) but in book with multiple contributors we may decide to standardize to one dialect to facilitate readability. We’ll update this FAQ item when we reach a decision.

Are there any formatting requirements for our writing sample submissions?

It has to be readable. Other than that, we’re not going to disqualify anyone for what font they use, how their lines are spaced, etc.

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