About the Project

In a nutshell, what is this project about?

            For those writers who choose to be included in our book, they will go through a fairly methodical process of choosing, assessing and revising their work; this will be done through a series of workshops (editorial sessions/focus groups) and private conferences with Bob. Each writer is guaranteed submission in the book, and will be allotted about a dozen pages more or less. The book—probably about 375 pages—will be professionally published and distributed.

What if my work is not up to snuff? There’s a specific piece of writing I really want to publish, but it seems a bit weak and not as moving or vivid as it should be. I’m actually feeling a little uneasy about it right now. Should I go forward?

            Even among accomplished professional writers the default starting point for their work is weakness: all first and second drafts, by definition, are wayward, unpolished, perhaps even seriously flawed. Writers not only write; they revise. The question to ask yourself isn’t, “Am I a first-class writer…do I deserve to be in this book?” Rather, it should be, “Do I have the ability to learn the sort of analytic and editorial skills necessary to turn so-so prose into superb writing….and do I have the patience & commitment to apply those skills…?”

This project presumes that its contributors are serious about their writing, and committed to improving their work. This project will last about three months, and there’ll be a very high level of attention given to your manuscripts. You can safely be assured that, at the end of the project, your work will be thoroughly improved. This is about commitment, not talent. Everyone who’s been invited to publish in our anthology has the capability of transforming their submissions into material they’ll be rightly proud of….  We’ll give you both the time and the guidance to make that happen.

Q & A

Are we going to be taught those analytic and editorial skills?

            You bet your sweet bippy you will….! But the “class” will be run more like an advanced focus group, where editorial skills will be learned largely by induction—that is, the process of following the trail of a professional editor.

Will I be at a disadvantage if I don’t read all the entries in this FAQ?

            Naturally! There are specific steps that must be accomplished in order to be published in this book. And we’ll explain all the details of the process in this FAQ! (This is a major undertaking, and we’ll need all the contributors to give special attention to the instructions and deadlines they receive. None of them is onerous in the least. And you’ll always have the guidance of the book’s publisher {Bob} and its managers.)

What kinds of material are appropriate for this book?

            Creative work in any genre—whether fiction, non-fiction, essay, drama, memoir, poetry, experimental prose, songs, etc—will be accepted. Works for either children or adults are acceptable. You may also submit excerpts of longer works, such as a novel, etc. We have no restrictions, nor will we censor any material (as long as it’s legal to publish!).

Are we limited to submitting only material that came out of our writing workshop?

            No. You may submit any work that is original to you and not previously published.

Is there a minimum or maximum length for my material?

            There is no minimum length requirement. Every contributor will be allotted up to approximately 4,000 words, or—in the case of poetry—about 11 manuscript pages of the book. This is flexible, however.

May I submit multiple pieces if I am still under the maximum word count?

            Yes. You may submit, for instance, a story, a poem, and an essay as long as their combined page count is under the allotment.

Do I give up any legal rights when submitting to this anthology?

            No. Each contributor fully owns the copyright to their own work included in the anthology. A copyright page will appear in the book, acknowledging each individual author as the copyright owner. The publisher will simply have the right to publish your work in anthology form (hard copy and e-book). After that, all rights and ownership revert to each individual author; you will be able to republish your respective submission elsewhere at any time in the future without requiring any release or permission from the publisher. In other words, you may do with your piece as you please after it is first published. The rights to the anthology itself are maintained by the publisher: meaning that the whole book, in the form that it is released in, can not be reprinted or republished without explicit written permission from the publisher.

Will we need to sign contracts?

            No. However, if any author wishes to put in writing any of the agreements laid out in this FAQ or any other safeguards, the publisher (Bob) will gladly sign the relevant contract.

Will writers be paid?

            Oh, we wish that it were so. Contributors will receive fame but, alas, no fortune! (However, if the book sells more than 300 copies, the publisher will initiate a profit-sharing plan, in which 100% of the profits on all books sold above 300 copies will be distributed equally among all the contributors)

What is the time frame for publication?

            You’ll be waving a copy of our anthology at your Labor Day picnic….! We will conclude the final layout of the book probably in late August. Beginning this week, the process will unfold slowly and methodically. And you will always be given definitive guidance as to the successive steps you’ll need to take. In brief, here’s the general outline, which will also be quite flexible: our principle is to make this a fun, not stressful or burdensome process.

  • May = selection process begins (you begin to sift through your possible submissions)
  • May 15 - 30 = submissions of initial drafts; informal reviews & feedback
  • May/June  = 5-week workshop on “Prepping Your Manuscript for Publication”
  • June / July = Private conferences w/ Bob; 
  • August 1st (approx)  = Final Revisions Due
  • August 15 = Copyediting, Layout & design
  • September = book distribution, press releases, public readings, Publication Party
  • October = your appearance on Oprah, optional


May we publish under a pen name?

            Yes. You may publish under any name you wish, as long as it isn’t Julius Q. Caesar.

What kind of literary standards are you setting for the book?

            Like you, we do have standards of quality. Not unrealistically high. No, no, no. Just thoroughly respectable! Writers will be encouraged—strongly encouraged—to revise their initial submissions. Given that virtually every professional writer—even very well-established ones—habitually goes through multiple revisions, working with their editor on numerous drafts before their pieces are sent to press, it is likely that your piece will probably be in need of some touch-up! Our anthology will not be a slap-dash, knock-off newslettery kinda thing often seen stacked at writing-club bake-sales. It will be professionally produced, and have serious value.

To that end, we’ll be offering a workshop toward the end of May: “Preparing Your Manuscript for Publication.” Moreover, Bob is devoting the entire months of June and July for at least three editorial conferences with each writer—private conferences.

In theory, each author here has the right to be published in this book, since that is the promise Bob gave and intends to keep; in practice, however, we expect that our authors will pursue the path that all other professionals do: they’ll resolutely seek out ways to clarify and strengthen their work. To raise their own bar. It is unlikely that any writer among us does not strive to submit work that is as close to their personal best as possible.


Tell me more about the ‘review’ process.

            An informal review group receives all initial submissions and assigns a scale to each manuscript, according to an established rubric. Your manuscript will be assigned a Level 1, 2 or 3. Authors will take this feedback as a general measure of how much attention the piece needs in order to bring it to a publishable level; remember, though, we have several months to accomplish revisions.

Here’s Bob’s actual rubric and the commission he gives the Review Committee:


To the Committee: Remember, we do NOT ourselves have to personally like or enjoy a manuscript; we are not judging this on the basis of its appeal to us personally. Rather, we’re assessing this material on its own terms, within the genre that it intends to represent, and on behalf of readers it intends to reach.

Level 1 = This manuscript presents a strong, coherent and well-executed story, essay or poem. It is polished and mostly free of typos or minor grammatical flaws; its dramatic and organizational qualities will stand out. There is a palpable sense of emotion or meaning within its pages. It may have some relatively minor flaws, but it could be considered to be as close to publishable as anyone in the alumni group is capable of producing.

Level 2 = This is a strong piece that coheres fairly well, but contains sections or elements that prevent it from being published ‘as is.’  It may be in need of minor (or even major) copyediting; this will be a potentially substantial work that would not be well-presented without additional revisions. 

Level 3 = This is a piece that we’d very much like to publish, but one that needs much more serious revision. It resembles a hasty draft rather than a finished product. It has sections that violate good writing practices (for instance, in the areas of logic, dramatic appeal, clarity, believability, characterization, grammatical mechanics, focus, etc.)


Remember, though, that this is just an advisory process; the review group does not have the power to accept or reject manuscripts. They only advise.


What if I miss a deadline?

            We’ll probably be listening to the Grateful Dead, on headphones, and so won’t notice. Heck, the management will miss deadlines. No biggy! But contributors who chronically miss deadlines will be given an avvertimento speciale. Although we do not expect this to happen, if a contributor misses a critical deadline that holds up the whole project—such as submission of their final proofs, etc.—then he or she will forfeit their place in our book.

 Will I have a say if my manuscript gets edited in any way?


            All manuscripts will be copyedited—that is, proofread and combed through for typos, grammatical issues, etc.  Minor changes will be made, of course, but all edited manuscripts must be approved by the author before being released for publication. Authors will always have the final say on any changes made to their work, large or small. No work will be published without prior authorization of the author.

The editor/publisher reserves the right to edit manuscripts in the event that an author chooses not to engage in any serious or timely revisions; such revisions, however, will not be published without explicit author pre-approval. The editor will not alter any narrative, literary, or voice element of any submission, but there may be occasions where some confusing passages will be rewritten. In any case, no author will be required to accept any revision they don’t agree with.

Let our last anthology be an indicator: the manuscript contained 93,000 words: about 65 submissions from 30 writers. Over 1,000 copy-edits were made. About 1% of them were on a level above simple mechanics. 100% of all the writers accepted 100% of the recommended changes in their material.

Will contributors have an opportunity to preview submissions and offer critiques to the other writers in the book?

            Yes. In fact, we welcome it. This will be accomplished largely, but not exclusively, through the class, “Preparing Your Manuscript for Publication.” The goal of this peer-sharing process is three-fold: to allow all the writers to see—and benefit from—each other’s progress; and to allow them to offer helpful insights; but primarily to engender a sense of confidence in each writer—that is, each writer will ultimately need to say they are comfortable with the material that will be positioned alongside their own….work that must be equally impressive.

Are there any charges for inclusion in this book?

            Other than tuition for the “Preparing Your Manuscript for Publication” workshop—which is required for all authors—there will be no entrance fees nor publishing costs, nor additional or unexpected charges of any kind. Guaranteed. Neither are individual authors obligated to purchase any copies of the book once published.

 Who’s paying for all this?

            All design, printing, binding, distribution, and publicity costs are paid for by a certain teacher with the initials BC. There will be no solicitation of contributors for any other charges.

How can contributors obtain copies?

            Contributors will have the opportunity to purchase as many copies of the first edition as they choose; copies for contributors will be offered at significant discount. Those who purchase multiple copies will be given additional discounts.

Tell me more about this “Preparing Your Manuscript for Publication” workshop.

            The course will commence in May or possibly June, and will last 5 or 6 weeks. Its purpose is to ensure the highest level of quality in the anthology possible.

            No author can be included in the anthology without going through this course. Authors must attend 4 of the 6 sessions.

            It’s really an augmented version of Bob’s regular courses, but will also include 3 private conferences with each author. Tuition for the course & conferences will be divided into two installments: a $29 tuition deposit will be due in mid-May, and the balance of $99 will be due the end of June. The class will run an afternoon and evening session.  Other than tuition, THERE ARE NO OTHER FEES  associated with this project.

What if I can’t make it to some or even all of the classes?

            If you’re prevented from attending, we’ll work out an alternate way to keep you engaged in the course to compensate for your physical absence. It’s the 21stCentury, so we’ll find a convenient and workable solution. But each writer must contribute his or her piece to the class for review, and must participate in the review of others’ work, as well.

 Will the book be available in bookstores, or is it distributed just to contributors?

            The anthology will be sold in a variety of stores locally and around the region. We will launch a fairly aggressive press campaign to announce it; we will also sponsor Reading & Signing events at bookstores and libraries in the Fall. Each contributor will be invited to read his or her material at each event.

It would be cool to talk to the contributors from the last anthology. For inspiration, direction, advice. Could that be arranged?

            Bob has already put together a small team of advisors (6 contributors from his last book) who’ve delightfully offered to field questions or just give moral support for all the new writers here. We’ll supply you with their phone numbers & email addresses later this week.

What other material must I prepare?

            Each author will be asked to write up a “preface” of his or her submissions, contextualizing their submissions; this will be published as a sort of “foreword” in the pages before your work. And every writer here will be asked to send us a biographical sketch to be included in the book.

Will someone be there to help me through the submission & publication process?

            Yes, someone will work with you through every aspect of the process. Our priority is to provide each author with as much personal guidance as possible.           

Will I need to format my manuscript in a certain way?

            Yes. And we’ll send you the proper formatting procedure (e.g. margins, font, etc) as we approach the submission dates. If you find formatting your material challenging, someone will walk you through the whole process.

 Our managers are Katie Semtner Stokes and Barb Tift. They'll be sending you their contact info soon.

When can I start submitting my work?

            Your Managers will give explicit instructions when we get to that phase. Not yet, however! Please do not submit material until it is requested by the Managers.

I have other questions. To whom should I direct them?

            Send all questions (or advice!) to either of the Project Leaders. And, of course, you can always call me: 10 AM – 10PM…!  315-702-7157.

Will I survive this process?