We’ve put together some questions for our Publisher, Carrie Cuinn. The questions were asked by people on Twitter, or via email, or from our own staff members. Feel free to post additional questions in the comments.
Q: What is the reading process for submissions?
A: Every story is read at least twice. Acceptances are ultimately read (and commented on) by at least three people. For the most part, the stories I love and want to print are also loved by other readers, and the stories I don’t think are appropriate for us usually get the same reaction out of others. To date, there’s only been one story that I didn’t want to print but which was adored by another reader, and we bought that story.
Q: How important are submission guidelines?
A: Very. Reading the guidelines is most important thing that you can do to get into the pages of a Dagan Books publication. If you don’t read them, you won’t know what we’re looking for. More importantly, if I can tell by reading your submission that you don’t know what we want, it gives me the impression that you’re just shopping a story around randomly, one which had nothing to do with our specific publishing needs.
Q: Do you pay professional rates?
A: Not yet, though that’s definitely our goal. At the moment, and beginning with our very first title, we’ve been paying semi-pro rates. Writing rates are listed in the description of each open project. Our art rates are available online here. As Dagan Books grows, we plan to eventually become a SFWA and HWA qualifying publisher. That may take a few years, but in the meantime we guarantee that we will always pay our contributors to the best of our abilities.
Q: Are you going to publish something other than anthologies?
A: Absolutely. While I love anthologies for their ability to showcase the work of several different writers at once, we also plan to publish book-length fiction and academic non-fiction by select authors. Our plan is to start mixing in the longer titles with our anthologies, so that we eventual publish some of each kind during the year.
Q: Why aren’t you open to book submissions now?
A: We would rather spend all of our time and budget promoting one book than be spread too thin trying to publish and promote a variety of books. Because we’re a new company, we have to be extremely careful to make sure that the titles we print reflect on our brand in the way that we want. It’s terribly important that we establish who we are, what we do, and how we do it. By putting together the first couple of books ourselves, we are assured that what we create is sending the message we want it to. Soon, we’ll be established enough to take a chance on new writers of full-length works, but we’re not quite there yet.
Q: What’s your next project? How did you come up with the idea?
A: Our spring title will be In Situ, a science-fiction anthology. The collection will tell stories of alien archeology – other-wordly artifacts dug up on Earth, and mysterious ruins discovered off-planet. The idea comes out of my background in history of art, where the phrase “in situ” refers to the examination of an object “in place”; namely, still lying in the spot that it was found. By investigating the site before the object is removed, art historians and archeologists can piece together a better picture of the time and culture which left that object behind. I’m looking forward to seeing the submissions, and especially to see how writers work in the idea of theoretical mistakes … Throughout history, historians and other learned folks have incorrectly identified found objects, minimizing or mistakenly emphasizing some aspect of the culture as they imagined it should be, only to find out later how wrong our assumptions can be. When you’re talking about uniquely alien objects, I think the mistaken identities might be even worse.
Q: Last question – how did you come up with the name for Dagan Books?
A: I’ve had several people ask if it was mispelling of the name of one of Lovecraft’s famous monsters, but in truth Dagan is my son’s middle name. I always thought the best thing I could do with my life was to make his world a better, more educated, and more interesting place. I hope that by creating this company and printing these books, we’re doing exactly that.