BL Submissions Support 2012

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BL Submissions Support 2012

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Tue Dec 20, 2011 7:45 am

The purpose of this thread is to have a central place for discussions and opinions regarding submissions windows, as they open up, for 2012. I'll post the dates of windows as they are announced and will keep track of what people are planning on submitting as well, just like this year. This is mostly to avoid having discussions going on in different places and keep everything in one place. Looking forward to the editors taking a part here too!

The submissions window is open as of today, April 1st and will end on June 30th. The guidelines here have been updated.

A few Guidelines to your submissions

The most important guidelines are already available on the BL site here. However, questions do crop up and sometimes people don't adhere to the guidelines for one reason or another. So I'm reposting them and just want to remind people that these guidelines are just that, guidelines. You do have some wiggle room but my suggestion would be to stick as close to them as possible.

Short Story -

Old version
- A 1,000-word sample - Generally, this should be the start of your short story but the editors do like to read about the most exciting part of your story which can be from any point in the plot. So use your judgement on this;

New version
- A 500-1,000 words sample - With the changes to the submission process, the editors only need this from you as part of your submission. This means that you have less wiggle room to impress the editors with. While before it was an unsaid fact that the sample needed to be your best, now it is absolutely crucial because it is only your sample, and nothing else, that will get you to stage 2. What I have said above still applies. This sample should be the best piece of prose for your story.

Short stories are expected to be in the 5,000-10,000 words range so make sure that when you are plotting your story (you should have some basic idea of your plot when working on the sample) takes this into account.

How to submit -
As an attached word document in the email as well as a part of the body of the email. Also, do submit a story title.

Novel -

This is the last year for submitting novel pitches. The most important reason for this is that even if you DO get accepted on the basis of your novel submission, you will still be asked to write short stories first, as in the case of Josh Reynolds. Also, Josh Reynolds is the only accepted novel submission from last year's window. Quite telling.

Old Version
- A 1,000-word summary of the story - This is going to be somewhat like the short story synopsis but not as detailed. However, you do want to make your characters, locations, settings, themes and story progression are clear;
- A maximum 6-page chapter-by-chapter breakdown - This is where you want to into detail and highlight all the scenes from your chapter. Character interactions, motivations, major events, that sort of thing. Avoid blow-by-blow details however.
- The first three chapters of the novel that clock in at a minimum of 10,000 words - A lot depends on how you get your breakdown/summary done and it is fine to write as much as 15,000 words or more even. It is not a major issue. But deliver complete chapters and don't mix in the prologue(s) here because those are for the full manuscript.

New Version
- A title and a single paragraph summary - Think of the blurbs at the back of a novel. That is what the editors want, roughly speaking. There are ample examples on the official site so this is pretty much a no-brainer. Also, its a big change from last year, so keep that in mind. Less is more;
- A 4-page chapter-by-chapter breakdown - With the reduction in size, it means you have much less room than before to get your point across. Again, less is more, so make sure that you are really economical here. The editors don't want extreme details;
- The first three chapters of the novel that clock in at a minimum of 10,000 words - Nothing has changed here really. Just make sure that your synopsis matches your actual text, as always.

Full novels are expected to be around 100,000 words so plot your novel submission accordingly.

How to submit -
As an attached word document in the email. Your title, summary, and the first 500 words of your first chapter should be posted in the body of the email as well.

Game books -

This is the first year that Black Library is looking for game book submissions. Think CZ Dunn's Hive of the Dead and the upcoming City of the White Wolf. These will all be choose your own adventure game books and are to be a part of the unnannounced Path to Victory series.

- A title and a single paragraph summary - As with the other two submission formats, make sure to get your basic idea across here and don't do anything fancy;
- Ten sample pages at 200 words each - These can be sequential if you want but they don't have to be. They should still give the reader an idea of the story/character progression however.

Full game books are expected to be around 50,000 words and clock in at about 400 pages.

How to submit -

As an attached word document in the email with your title and summary in the body of the email as well.

The editors are also fine if you draw your inspiration from the Forge World Imperial Armour books or the RPG books Fantasy Flight Games, so don't limit yourself just to the armybooks/codices and the rulebooks for 40k/WHF.

Space Marine Battles submissions are no longer being accepted, but really, that doens't change anything. Your ideas, even if they aleady exist in the current lore, are as good for submissions as before. The only difference is that you wouldn't mention in your email that the submission is for the SMB range.

As for the Time of Legends, Horus Heresy and the Gotrek & Felix ranges, no submissions for these categories will be entertained, unless explicitly stated in the case of the third option.

All submissions are to be sent to submissions@blacklibrary.com. You will receive no response or feedback unless the editors are interested in whatever submission you have sent to them.

You can find a write-up of the new rules and guidelines, courtesy Squiggle, over here.
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Re: BL Submissions Support 2012

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Tue Dec 20, 2011 7:50 am

May-July Submissions Window

Works in Progress
Carlos Estevez - Novels : 2, Short Stories : 2
Erunanion - Novels : 1, Short Stories : 0
J D Dunsany - Novels : 0, Short Stories : 2
MalkyDel - Novels : 1, Short Stories : 2
Mauthos - Novels : 0, Short Stories : 1
Midgard - Novels : 2, Short Stories : 0
MisterEd - Novels : 1, Short Stories : 3
MossyToes - Novels : 2, Short Stories : 1
Raziel4707 - Novels : 1, Short Stories : 2
Schaferwhat - Novels : 2, Short Stories : 1
Shadowhawk - Novels : 1, Short Stories : 2
Tim the Corsair - Novels : 1, Short Stories : 3
Vinnie - Novels : 1, Short Stories : 0
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Re: BL Submissions Support 2012

Postby Erunanion » Tue Dec 20, 2011 5:35 pm

You can add in one novel submission for me; Noble Born, my long-term IG novel project which will be going in next summer.
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Re: BL Submissions Support 2012

Postby kurisawa » Wed Dec 21, 2011 12:20 am

Perhaps another piece of advice that needs reiterating, often given by BL staff, and once again said by Laurie during the bolthole blog interview is: Don't Go Outside The Box.

By this, they mean they want story submissions based on existing "things" (races, armies, character-types) in the Warhammer Universes. Dan Abnett gets to make up lots of funky new aliens or character types for his stories because he is established. Maybe you can in the future too, but for the opening submission, as BL puts it, "Use the toys that we have already given you."

This can conflict with the contrasting advice that they don't want stories based on characters already existing in other stories - so no novel about Uriel Ventris, for example. These two contrasting pieces of advice can seem confusing to prospective submitters: What exactly constitutes "inside the box" yet also stays away from untouchable characters?

Their advice seems to be this: Don't write about individual characters already featured in BLACK LIBRARY books, but DO draw on the GAMES WORKSHOP rulebooks, codexes, army books, etc. The ultramarines 2nd Company (including all its main characters) features in Fall of Damnos, so not a good idea, but the rest of the Chapter has room for development. There are lots of gaps to exploit; just look at all those named chapters in the Space Marines codex, yet still waiting for a novel.

* Note that Gotrek and Felix were specifically named, in a challenge no less, from Mr. Dunn, as an "OK" subject for submissions this last year, so watch out for certain BL characters that become "available."


K.

EDIT
Additional: Many prospective submitters, including me, spend a long time agonising over whether to create "homegrown" armies - whether these are entirely new marine chapters, imperial regiments, or clans of dark elves. BL has not definitely said "no" to this, but by observing previous behaviour we can see that it is better to find a named regiment/chapter/city already existing in the codex or armybook (but not yet fully explored in the novels) and use that name/location for your "new" army.
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Re: BL Submissions Support 2012

Postby MisterEd » Wed Dec 21, 2011 1:12 pm

Put me down for 3 shorts and a novel this year.
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Re: BL Submissions Support 2012

Postby Erunanion » Thu Dec 22, 2011 6:56 pm

You know what? Having thought long and hard about this, I think I will be pitching a different novel than Noble Born in 2012; I have been confidenced by the myriad reports, interviews, rumours and downright commonsense that the smartest way to go is to pitch a novel that is straight down the middle in terms of fluff and invented stuff (see kurisawa's excellent summary above). Noble Born is the story I really, really want to tell, and as such has an awful lot of stuff that is of my own invention in there - a brand-new IG regiment and world, etc etc. The sort of thing one pitches once one has barged one's way through the door by showing true mastery of writing craft and the universe as it exists now, and while I think it would probably do just that, I don't want to chance it.

Not that any of this matters to you chaps and chapettes - I'm just talking out loud because I've been stuck on trains for the last seven hours and I have been thinking this over a lot :) Still one novel for me, but on what I do not yet know.
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Re: BL Submissions Support 2012

Postby Bod the inquisitor » Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:49 pm

If I may I’d like to add a couple of pennies worth to the issue of subjected matter and how far you can go in creating “new” things.

With respect to new guard regiments, I think it’s all about keeping it codex, don’t have everyone armed with power swords, axes and such like, down to the squadie level. These are rare things and I don’t think many if any planets would be able to equip a few thousand men with them. If that option is not in the codex it don’t happen is the rule I think. Also keep organisation very close to codex as you can, whatever options are described in the imperial guard codex is okay if it is not then don’t, i.e. it seems from my limited knowledge that most guard squads are 10 men a sergeant and 9 squadies. Also don’t invent new armoured vehicle types for the guard there are plenty to play within the various imperial armour books. You may be able to get away with PDF using non-standard imperial guard equipment i.e. locally produced but make it sub standard to guard stuff. Oh and don’t create any totally elite guard units that do special things and say are allowed to go about without commissars or such like.

With respect to worlds I think, personally (I’m about to be shot down here I can almost hear the carefully thought out back ground people sharpening the knives) we have a little more leeway, but again stick with the types of planet we already know about, agro worlds, hive worlds, death worlds extra. Oh and no creating undiscovered intelligent alien races, small furan and flora perhaps, but only local single planet stuff. Generally, keep it simple and watch out for things that have been wiped out already, i.e. nalwoods, they die on Tanith as far as I know.

I think that when the comment comes keep it within the pre-existing background material then it means don’t do anything that is not contained in a codex for army design equipment or behaviour. Well that’s the way I’ve understood it when I’ve been in a BL seminar on the subject. But I’m not exactly an expert on the matter as I’ve still to get something published :D
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Re: BL Submissions Support 2012

Postby Midgard » Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:44 pm

Put me down for two novels, both dealing with Space Marines. One is (hopefully) designed for a Space Marine Battles range, another is dealing with a Chapter that got most attention from Forge World, but does exist in non-FW lore as well. Possibly some short stories as well, featuring one of the Chapters in the novels.
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Re: BL Submissions Support 2012

Postby Tim the Corsair » Wed Dec 28, 2011 1:18 pm

One Space Marine Battles novel, three shorts at this stage.
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Re: BL Submissions Support 2012

Postby Vinnie » Sun Jan 08, 2012 4:13 am

Hey guys. Know I'm not a regular contributor here, but I do a fair amount of lurking and thought that this year I'd finally take the plunge.

Count me in for one novel idea, about 15 per cent complete :P

I look forward to watching the crop of subs from you guys grow!
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Re: BL Submissions Support 2012

Postby Mossy Toes » Sun Jan 08, 2012 4:16 am

I currently have 2 novel and 1 short story idea. I'll probably only pitch 1 and 1, but I'm still going to try to get #2 ready in time.
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Re: BL Submissions Support 2012

Postby J D Dunsany » Sun Jan 08, 2012 11:05 pm

I've got a couple of shorts in the works - one SM and one Inquisition.

(We should have a fingers-crossed smilie, shouldn't we, really?)

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Re: BL Submissions Support 2012

Postby Malcador » Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:18 am

I'd like to contribute by gathering in one post some helpful nuggets of information I came across on the forum. Shadowhawk, Feel free to incorporate it in your original post if you like it.

+Pyrorrific:

"It's the same advice as I think most of the other authors would give. Write, write some more, keep writing and then do a bit of writing for good measure. Read like it's going out of fashion. If you're not writing a story, write a blog. Try to write as much as you can because the more you do it, the better you get at it.

When it comes to actually writing a story... my advice is, and always has been, do. Don't think about it, do it. I know that everyone has their own style when it comes to constructing their stories, but my preferred method is to get the skeleton of the story down and then flesh it out afterwards. Otherwise if you're like me, you spend forever chewing over the tiniest details."

"Doing the gig professionally... you have to be professional. My desk is a swamp of photocopies, codices, books and copious notes that I'm constantly referring back to."

+ + +

+Narrativium:
"I'll give two examples. First: this conversation happened between Christian Dunn and I at Games Day 2010, and I mentioned an idea for a novel I was working on. Bear in mind: through the forums, the events, and my one sale to Black Library, I've known Christian since at least 2006, and that he was working, so his priority at the time was to show off Black Library's new digital range of stuff. I kept my pitch to a single sentence summary, and he gave me a very quick answer.

I said: what if Ravenwing were ordered to hunt down a unit of Imperial Guardsmen who'd discovered the secret of the Fallen?

He said: why not write a story about Ravenwing hunting down the Fallen?

My story idea: aiming for the box, trying to explore several core units without much exposure in BL's stories to date, trying to explore how far one faction will go to keep its secrets, to the expense of its allies, and with a bit of a twist which might make it different from all that's come before.

His idea: absolutely in the box, just waiting for some specifics to make it a story.

Second example: when the submission window for Heroes of the Space Marines came along, so many questions arose as to whether this meant we had to explore heroism or particularly heroic Space Marine characters in our stories. Nick Kyme's answer was so simple: "Cool. Space Marine. Stories."

I think most of the submissions either have a false idea of the 41st Millennium, or they overthink it."

"The rules change. Stay alert, and adhere to the rules they set."

"The game's pretty simple: ditch all your ideas about what you want to sell. Keep all your ideas about what BL want to buy."

+ + +

+Shadowhawk:
"The pitches are meant to show that we can write a good narrative that has action, tension, characterization, doesn't break grammar rules and is generally written well (sample). The pitch is meant to show that we can plot out a story with a clear beginning, middle and end that also shows that we have over-arching themes throughout (synopsis). The pitch is meant to show that we can distill our idea down to a handful of coherent sentences (summary). Whereas, if we give them the whole thing in one go, then their actual reading task is more difficult because they have to wade through the entire story to see what we are on about.

"As aspiring writers, we don't have the luxury of churning out the next Atlas Infernal where we include 90% of the minor/major factions of the setting. Our stories have to be focused on a small handful of factions, 2-4 I'd say, and show how they all interact given whatever events you are writing for."

+ + +

+Xisor:
"There's a certain amount of 'feeling in the dark' at work here."
-Xisor, on adapting to BL standards, so...
"...work to what BL want to buy."
+

+Jelboy:
"I could probably tell whether you've got story writing ability from one or two of your stories."
-And so could Laurie, Christian and Graeme, so keep that in mind everyone.
+

+David Earle:
"If I'd done that I wouldn't be published."
-David Earle on putting all of his efforts into one short story or novel.
+

+J D Dunsay:
"One of the key aspects of writing professionally is pleasing your prospective employer. If you're not able - or willing - to do that, then you're wasting your time.

Might it not be the case that the things that make us excited about the 40K universe (in particular) also make us singularly unsuited to writing official BL fiction about it?"
+
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Re: BL Submissions Support 2012

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Mon Jan 09, 2012 7:43 am

We are curiously heavy in the novels department in this early stage, and a lot of Space Marine Battles novels it seems. Cheers, folks! Just remember that for SMB novels, whatever event you are writing for has already been mentioned somewhere in the lore, whether it is Forge World or Fantasy Flight Games or GW books or Black Library. I've had to change my original SMB novel idea (that it is a SMB novel) to a regular novel after some advice.
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Re: BL Submissions Support 2012

Postby Carlos Estevez » Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:47 am

Hello hello, some grand hints and tips here. This year I'm going to aim for 2 novels and 2 short stories (1 fantasy 1 40k on both counts).
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Re: BL Submissions Support 2012

Postby Erunanion » Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:47 pm

I would quite like to do some fantasy stuff, but I am just so out of touch with the fluff I wouldn't know where to start.

To bluk out this post, I'm getting on grand with my novel submission at the moment. Should be getting to the actual writing on Monday with the synopsis and chapter-by-chapter nailed down. Hoping to have the writing of it done and dusted by BLL so I have a few months of time to work on other things before the window opens (plus plenty of time to amend things should some revelatory piece of wisdom completely change my approach).
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Re: BL Submissions Support 2012

Postby Raziel4707 » Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:52 pm

Put me down for one novel and one short story please Shadow, if you would be so kind. Novel is not Space Marine battles, it's Imperial Guard versus CSM, an unfinished little tale from last window.
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Re: BL Submissions Support 2012

Postby Mauthos » Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:57 pm

If I have the time I hope to have my first ever submission ready for this year. Small offering in only 1 40K short.

Slightly in awe of the people who aim to have 2 novels and multiple shorts to submit, really quite impressive!
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Re: BL Submissions Support 2012

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:58 pm

Erunanion wrote:I would quite like to do some fantasy stuff, but I am just so out of touch with the fluff I wouldn't know where to start.

well in many ways for fantasy the fluff is somewhat less important, it still being broadly identifiable as derivative of general fantasy bits (it just derives from a lot of things). There are folks here who know stuff so you can always get to know what you need to know through careful questioning.

Right now I have two novel ideas, and one short story for the second fear the alien anthology that will be coming up. I'll see how I do with working those out, they are cool ideas to be playing with so I'm just enjoying that at the moment. I really don't know if they'll be ready to submit, even if they are ready to convince BL to publish, ha.
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Re: BL Submissions Support 2012

Postby Erunanion » Wed Jan 11, 2012 1:38 pm

schaferwhat‽ wrote:
Erunanion wrote:I would quite like to do some fantasy stuff, but I am just so out of touch with the fluff I wouldn't know where to start.

well in many ways for fantasy the fluff is somewhat less important, it still being broadly identifiable as derivative of general fantasy bits (it just derives from a lot of things). There are folks here who know stuff so you can always get to know what you need to know through careful questioning.


Indeed; I think that once I have this novel sub polished off (and a non-BL short story done for an anthology I was meaning to post about; will go do that in a second) I will turn my attention to ideas for WHF and 40K short stories.
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