Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Exclusive Interview with Sasha Knight of Samhain w/a Call for Space Opera Anthology Submissions

Samhain Publishing does it again! The freshly minted announcement from this visionary(!) epublisher calls for a "Squee!" and a "Woot!" Can I just say, how exciting is this? Please indulge me as I kick up my heels in a fangirl happy dance.

Here’s the call in its entirety from Managing Editor Sasha Knight who is spearheading the project:

Call for Submissions: Samhain Publishing Space Opera anthology

Get your outer space on! Intergalactic wars, space battles, alien cultures, and love (and lust) across the cosmos.

Serenity PosterI’m very pleased to announce an open call for submissions for a new, yet-to-be titled spring 2010 space opera anthology. I’m looking for fast-paced, action-adventure space opera romances. Don’t know what space opera is? Think Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica or my personal favorite, Firefly/Serenity. For more information on Space Opera, you can check out the entry on Wikipedia.

I’m open to M/F, M/M, or multiples thereof, and any sexual heat level. The only rule is the story should be set mainly or entirely in space and the romance must end happily ever after or happy for now.

The anthology will include novellas from 25,000 to 30,000 words in length and will be released individually as ebooks in April 2010.

Submissions are open to all authors, published with Samhain or aspiring to be published with Samhain. All submissions must be new material—previously published submissions will not be considered. Additionally, manuscripts previously submitted, whether individually or for past anthologies, will not be considered either. Please be aware that manuscripts submitted to this anthology cannot be resubmitted at a later date unless by invitation from an editor.

To submit a manuscript for consideration, please include:

The full manuscript (of 25,000 to 30,000 words) with a comprehensive 2-5 page synopsis. Please include a letter of introduction/query letter. Full manuscripts are required for this as it’s a special project.

As well, when you send your manuscript, please be sure to use the naming convention SpaceOpera_Title_MS and SpaceOpera_Title_Synopsis. This will ensure that your submission doesn’t get missed in the many submissions we receive, and makes it easy for me to find in my ebook reader.

Submissions are open until August 10, 2009 and final decision will be made by August 31, 2009. Please send your submission to and include Space Opera Anthology in the subject line. Questions can be addressed to Sasha Knight (

Now that you've read the guidelines, here’s a little about Sasha Knight herself:

Sasha Knight loves words.

Her parents swear she came out of the womb speaking and took up reading soon after, so it should come as no surprise that she grew up to become an editor, allowing her to spend her days playing with words.

In 2005, Sasha joined Samhain Publishing, Ltd. as a full-time editor. In 2009, she added to her duties when she took on the position of managing editor for Linden Bay Romance, a recent acquisition of Samhain Publishing. In addition to her administrative duties, Sasha maintains a full-time editing schedule and edits more than 30 authors…and she’s always looking for more.

When she’s not editing, reading submissions or wading through thousands of emails, Sasha relaxes by watching TV. She’s an avid fan of Joss Whedon and thinks that Firefly was one of the best TV shows ever. Sasha loves to travel with her family with an e-reader full of books always at her side.

Sasha Knight was also gracious enough—immensely so since I was eager to post this announcement as soon as possible—to answer a few questions about her work as an editor. Do you feel the love? That’s because she’s such a fan of science fiction romance—ah, a woman after our own hearts!

The Galaxy Express: Please tell us about how you came to be an editor for Samhain Publishing.

Sasha Knight: When I heard that Christina Brashear was opening her own publishing company, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I highly respect the work she’s done in the industry and knew any company she formed would A) be going places, and more importantly, B) one I’d be proud to work for. I contacted her about becoming an editor and the rest is history. I started editing for Samhain before our virtual doors opened, and in fact celebrated turning in my 150th edited Samhain title last month.

TGE: What is the process of publication once you’ve acquired a manuscript?

SK: Once the contract has been signed, I begin working with the author on the many varied steps in the publication process. First, I work with the author on the blurb and cover art form, so we can get those turned in to the blurb editor and the cover art department, respectively, so they can work their magic. Then I begin edits. Often for the first round of edits I’ll send a global edit letter—things I noticed during my initial read through I’d like tackled before I begin the deeper, more intensive editing process. These things could be anything from trimming out repetition, fixing a dangling plot thread, taking out or adding a scene, etc. Once the author returns those edits to me, I do a minimum of two more rounds of edits. I read the book from beginning to end and comment on absolutely every little thing that I believe could be stronger or needs work. I’m a very detail-oriented editor—I’ve shocked more than a few of my authors when they received edits from me for the first time. I’m not a monster though either—I work with my authors to put out the best books possible.

Once the author and I have completed our editing rounds, I send the book off to one of Samhain’s fantastic final line editors, who also reads the book from beginning to end a minimum of two times. When the final line editor is done, I go over the book again, then send it on to the author, where we work together through the final changes. Once we’re both happy, the book is done. I send the book to our formatter, who takes over from there by getting the book formatted into all the various digital files. I scan over the book one final time when I get the copies from Samhain’s formatter. By the time the book releases, I’ve gone over the book half a dozen times or more.

But I’m not done yet. I work with the author to pick out excerpts from the book, for both the Samhain website and promotional opportunities. I also go over the blurb once it’s back from the blurb editor, and I work with the author and artist with the cover art proof.

Additionally, Samhain has a marketing department that works with the authors and provides various promotional opportunities. I’m not going to go into detail on that since I’m not involved as much with that part of the process.

TGE: What are some specific recommendations you often give writers to strengthen their worldbuilding?

SK: Perhaps it’s the books I contract or the authors I work with, but I don’t normally have to work too hard to get my authors to improve on their worldbuilding. The worldbuilding is such an essential and important part of the book, if it’s lacking, I probably wouldn’t offer a contract to begin with.

So when I do offer feedback on worldbuilding, it’s not usually on a large scale. More description here, more depth there. Make the analogies and metaphors in your writing fit the world—don’t revert to Americanisms or contemporary slang (unless it fits the culture of your world, and then make sure the reason for that cultural connection is explained).

Probably the simplest yet most important suggestion I can offer is to make me believe. Make me believe this world exists. Make me believe I could travel there, walk the streets, talk with the natives and become a part of the world.

TGE: Can you tell us about any forthcoming books you’ve edited?

SK: What I’m most excited about is something I can’t give specifics on yet. No titles or authors, because those are the very things I’m looking for. Just this week I posted a submission call for a space opera anthology that will be released in April 2010. Every time I type that I get excited. I’ve been thinking about doing a space opera anthology for well over a year, and it’s finally coming to fruition.

TGE: Is there anything else you’d like to add about science fiction romance, editing, or epublishing?

SK: This is quite an exciting time to be involved with epublishing. I’ve been reading ebooks since the late nineties. I began reading ebooks specifically to read sci-fi romances. Some of the first ebooks I read were by Linnea Sinclair and Isabo Kelly. They hooked me and I haven’t looked back since. Ten years have passed, and it’s exhilarating to see the leaps and bounds the epublishing industry has made in such a relatively short period of time. What’s the industry going to be like in another ten years? What new technologies will emerge? I can’t begin to answer those questions, but I’m looking forward to being a part of this industry and experiencing it all firsthand.

Thanks, Ms. Knight! It’s been a pleasure.

Now my dear passengers, settle back into your chairs with a glass of iced raspberry punch while you peruse Jesse Wave’s recent in-depth interview with Angela James, Executive Editor at Samhain. Learn about epublishing trends, the cover process, and (cuing commercial narrator voice) much, much more! It’s Samhain A-Z, basically.

Not only is this Space Opera anthology going to rock, but it’s also a chance for both established and aspiring authors to contribute fresh new stories to the genre. This is a tremendous opportunity. Contributions to anthologies are typically by invitation only (and even then, inclusion is not guaranteed). That kind of process often takes years, especially if one is a mid-list author. Samhain Publishing is effectively leveling the playing field.

Time to get your game on!

Joyfully yours,