Aether Beyond the Binary Rules and Guidelines

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Anthology Theme/Required Story Elements

  1. At least one main character must be outside the gender binary (for example, agender, non-binary, genderqueer, genderfluid, etc.).
  2. Stories must be set in modern/contemporary or near-future Earth-based aetherpunk settings where the technology runs on magic.
  3. Happy endings are a must!

We also encourage people to consider including found family, but it’s not a requirement, nor must stories have a romantic component. We are primarily interested in pitches that focus on the adventures, explorations, or doings of outside-the-binary characters living in modern or near-future Earth-based aetherpunk settings.

Not sure what aetherpunk is? Check out this post for more information on how we’re defining it!

General Rules

  1. All contributors must be at least 18 years of age.
  2. Contributors must be respectful toward their fellows and toward the anthologists at all times. We have a zero-tolerance policy toward fandom hate, kink shaming, anti-shipping, bigotry, racism, or other forms of abuse on our forums, comments, posts, and Discord.
  3. This anthology will be published as an e-book (ePub and PDF) and in print. Initial sales will be done through a crowdfunding campaign; once campaign fulfillment is completed, the book will be sold through the Duck Prints Press webstore.
  4. We will primarily be communicating with contributors via email and Discord. All participants must provide an email address they check regularly, and we encourage everyone to join our server as well. Invitations to the server will be included in acceptance emails. If you’re new to Discord, you can learn more about setting up a Discord account for yourself here.
  5. Violations of the rules will result in consequences ranging from a warning through a ban from working with the Press on future projects. The management team will decide consequences based on how many infractions take place and how severe those infractions are.

Applicant Guidelines

  1. The anthology will feature 20 stories, each between 5,000 and 7,500 words. 10 slots are reserved for writers who have contributed to past Duck Prints Press projects and would like to work with us again (“returners”). 10 applicants who have not worked with us previously will also be accepted to work on the anthology. The base pay for contributing authors is a flat rate of $75 per story, with a possibility of this increasing depending on our success at meeting crowdfunding campaign stretch goals. The maximum an author will be able to earn, should we meet all stretch goals, is $600. Contributors will also receive the e-book editions of the anthology for free.
  2. To qualify to apply, authors must meet the following minimum requirements:
  3. Interested authors who have previously worked with Duck Prints Press and are interested in returning as contributors to this anthology will be asked to submit their story pitch no longer than 400 words. They do not have to submit a new writing sample.
  4. Interested authors who are new to working with Duck Prints Press are asked to submit a sample of their work (no shorter than 500 words, no longer than 1,500 words). Submitted samples can be fanfiction or original fiction, previously published or otherwise. Samples may be extracts from longer works but they must be understandable without specialized knowledge of a specific fandom, meta, or pre-existing world. New authors must also submit a brief pitch aligned with the anthology themes (no longer than 400 words).
  5. Story pitches must be for stories that align with the story guidelines. Pitches are a significant factor in our assessment, so please carefully consider your pitch. A good pitch should give us a solid idea of what you’d write in your story, including basic information about your character(s) and plot. We don’t want to be left guessing; we want a clear idea of what you’d write for this project should you be selected. We give up to 400 words for a reason; please use them wisely. Make sure you save a copy of your pitch before you submit your application!
  6. If your story submission OR pitch includes any of these elements you must tag it on your application form: major character death, rape/non-con, dubious consent, harm to a child, death of a child, death of a relative, transphobia/homophobia/biphobia/etc., racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, ableism. Basically: if the material incorporates a relatively common trigger or is on a subject matter likely to make someone uncomfortable, please tag it! Also, please do not submit explicit story submissions when you apply for these anthologies. (We love erotica, but this isn’t an erotica anthology and we don’t want erotica samples at this time).
  7. Understanding that we may experience attrition among recruited authors, applicants may also volunteer as “pinch hitters.” If any of our first 20 accepted authors withdraw, we will contact authors who have offered to pinch hit.
  8. Applications will be open from January 5th, 2023 through January 20th, 2023. You can view the full schedule here.

You Should Not Apply If…

  1. Author legal names and addresses will be required for the contract, so if you’re not comfortable providing those, do not apply. You can see a generic version of a contract here
  2. Don’t commit to this project if you don’t think you can meet the deadlines in the schedule. If you miss a check-in without having come to an alternative agreement with us, you will be removed from the anthology. If you ghost completely (as in, don’t contact us to explain yourself), you’ll be permanently banned from contributing to future Duck Prints Press projects. Definitely consider the timeline as compared to your personal schedule. Note that, as long as an author communicates with us, we are generally generous with extensions; lack of communication is the offense we punish, not life happening.
  3. We will be rigorously editing all contributed stories to ensure they meet professional standards of formatting and grammar. We use the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (CMoS), as our standard style guide, with some modifications to meet our own standards and preferences. You can read our internal style guide here. We will do our best to work with authors, help them learn, point out things that don’t work, and highlight things that do work. If this level of editing and betaing will be too difficult for you to endure, please don’t apply. If you become defensive or aggressive with your editor, or otherwise act like a jerk, you’ll receive a warning. Subsequent infractions will result in your potentially being removed from the project and/or banned from contributing to future Duck Prints Press projects.

Story Guidelines

  1. Stories must be new and never-before-published. Authors may not “repurpose” a fanfiction—if the story was previously published in any form, you may not “rebrand” it to make it fit this anthology
  2. The worlds and characters in the stories must be original. No fanfiction is allowed, nor are stories featuring original characters inserted into an existing setting.
  3. Stories must incorporate all the elements of the anthology theme.
  4. Stories must be longer than 5,000 words. The maximum length allowed is 7,500 words.
  5. Stories cannot contain explicit sex. Ratings up to “mature” are permitted for depictions of violence, horror, gore, or sex.
  6. Stories must be primarily in English. Individual words or small chunks of text/dialogue may be in a non-English language.
  7. Stories can be in any English dialect provided that dialect is used consistently throughout the story.

Selection Process

  1. New-to-Duck-Prints-Press authors, your sample submissions will be rated using a rubric. You can read the rubric we use to review stories here. All submissions will be anonymized and rated by three readers using this rubric. Results will be statistically standardized and then averaged, and the new-to-us authors of the highest-rated stories will be invited to contribute.
  2. Depending on the volume of applications received and their quality, new-to-DPP authors who are not selected to contribute to the anthology may still be invited to join our Discord server and offered future opportunities to write with the Press. Invitations are issued at the discretion of the Duck Prints Press editorial team.
  3. Returning authors, your pitches will be rated on a 0 to 4 scale where 0 is “completely inappropriate to this project” and 4 is “this is perfect give it to me right now.” At least 3 reviewers will rate each of the returning author pitches; the exact number of times each pitch will be reviewed depend on staff availability and how many returner applications we receive.
  4. Selected authors were contacted on February 15th, 2023.

Accepted Contributor Guidelines

  1. The e-mails sent to selected contributors will include an invitation to our Discord server, a link to the author’s contract, and a form for submitting biographical information suitable for inclusion on the Duck Prints Press webpage, on our social media accounts, and as part of promotion for the crowdsourcing campaign. We will never share any author personal information except that which authors explicitly provide to us and authorize.
  2. Since authors will be selected in part based on their pitches, they will be expected to write the story they pitch; minor variations are permitted (for example, you could change whether a character was a lesbian or a bisexual, or if the story is set in New York City or Los Angeles) but neither the core plot nor world concept should change.
  3. Authors will be paired with one of our editors. The editor will be available to help with complications they run into during the process, and provide concept development support (alphaing), but will not fully edit their stories until after the final check-in.
  4. Please submit check-ins as Google documents; .docx/.doc is also acceptable. Please do not use PDF!
  5. Authors must meet all deadlines. Completed drafts, edited to the best of the authors’ ability, are due on May 31st, 2023; you can review the full schedule here. If you are concerned that you’ll miss a deadline, please contact the mods as early as possible, and we can work with you.
  6. To facilitate and hasten editing, we ask that authors review our style guide before submitting drafts. The style guide discusses various formatting and SPAG matters, especially those where we differ from the CMoS, and also covers a wide range of mistakes we see often.
  7. Authors are asked to not share their works-in-progress outside of the Duck Prints Press Discord. If you’d like to publish an excerpt (no more than 100 words) as part of a meme, work-in-progress update, or similar social media usage, that’s acceptable—please let us know so we can share and boost your post on our social media accounts!
  8. Once each story is completed, we will develop a tag list for it, similar to the “Additional Tags” section on AO3. Authors will be asked to review and approve the assigned tags. You can see the most up-to-date version of the controlled vocabulary we use here.
  9. Payment will be sent to authors once a final version of the story is agreed upon by the authors and book editors. If we raise enough in the crowdsourcing campaign to meet our stretch goals to pay authors above the minimum, that payment will be sent within six weeks of the conclusion of the campaign.

Have a question not addressed in these rules?