BASIC QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
1. What is Weird Beard Press?
Weird Beard Press is a publishing company dedicated to working with new, inexperienced, misunderstood, stymied, or simply frustrated authors who are interested in predominantly avant-garde subjects, that is to say, “the wonderfully weird and weirdly wonderful.” We help our clients refine, promote, and sell their work, mostly online in e-book and print-on-demand (POD) formats but also in paperback. Most titles will be available for purchase on Amazon and other retail websites.
2. Is Weird Beard Press a vanity press?
No. We review works in twenty-two broad categories and offer editing and publishing services only to authors whose work we find promising and potentially profitable for us and them alike. We are actually quite choosy about what we publish.
3. Do authors pay for these services?
If they publish with us, no. If their work requires extensive editing to be made marketable and they opt to publish it on their own, elsewhere, or not at all, then they pay only for the service of having their work professionally edited. Our editing rates begin at $30.00 per hour.
4. If I choose to publish with Weird Beard Press, are there any up-front fees?
No. If after reviewing your work, which we do confidentially and at no cost to you, we judge it to be publishable though still in need of minor changes, any fees for editing are deducted from actual sales of the work. If the work sells few copies (or none at all), the author still pays no fees. In such cases the work may be pulled from circulation after a minimum of six months, and later republished within one to five years, at our discretion and possibly with further changes, if interest in the subject matter or the author becomes apparent.
5. Does Weird Beard Press pay advances to authors?
Not at present. We are determined not to lose money on any project. We hope that authors who choose to publish with us are as well.
6. What is the royalty schedule like?
Authors enter into a legally binding contract with Weird Beard Press authorizing us to edit and distribute their work. The terms differ from author to author depending on how much editing we have to do to make the work marketable. Authors are typically paid about 50% of net sales receipts, though this percentage can drop if a lot of editing or vetting of the original manuscript is warranted. It follows that only authors over the age of eighteen can publish their work with Weird Beard Press. You will be asked for your legal name and date of birth, and may also be required to provide proof of age.
7. Does Weird Beard Press publish anthologies?
Yes. They’re our specialty, as a matter of fact. The rate paid for the shorter works of fiction or non-fiction that make up such collections is split among the individual authors whose work is included in them, regardless of the length of said works. Stories that generate a lot of interest may be republished in later anthologies, sometimes with higher royalties paid to the authors.
8. Does Weird Beard Press accept material that has been published elsewhere?
Rarely. Our final decision will depend on several factors. We will consider in what format the piece was originally published, by whom, how long ago, and whether anyone else can claim rights to the material.
9. As an author, do I have to be represented by a literary agent to publish with Weird Beard Press?
No. It’s actually better if you aren’t, at least until you’ve had time to establish a reputation. We will gladly work with an agent if you hire one to represent your interests, though, to be honest, we prefer not to. Not having one on your personal payroll means you don’t have to share the proceeds from your work with a third party.
10. Does Weird Beard Press specialize in erotica?
You could say that. We certainly don’t shrink from it, at least as long as the specifications of the genre and our ground rules are followed. If your erotic stories are sufficiently creative and quirky yet celebrate the blessings of human sexuality in style without devolving into smut, readers will want to buy, enjoy, and even learn from them. We maintain stringent guidelines for submissions of erotic material, which are outlined on the following page.
· First, email us a brief summary of the work at least 50 words long but not more than 500. Attach the first five pages of the document, but no more than that, preferably in Rich Text Format (.rtf). If the manuscript consists of fewer than five pages, as is typical with poetry, you may attach the entire work. Always include an accurate word count for the entire work, not just for the sample you’re submitting for review. Your submission will be rejected immediately if the word count is missing. We call this document your proposal. Acceptance or rejection of your work depends on the quality of this submission, so be sure to make the most of it by eliminating any unnecessary padding or filler.
· Next, we may ask for a full outline. Both the summary and outline must always include the ending and not act as a mere blurb or teaser that stops short of a full conclusion.
· Third, if we’re interested, we may ask you more questions about your work, or we may ask to review the whole manuscript. With rare exceptions, the manuscript must be completed, never left open-ended or missing a section or two that you’re still working on, before it can be submitted for publication. Changes are usually made later, but only after we’ve gauged the full scope of the work. Under normal circumstances we won’t ask you to send us a printed document at all. Weird Beard Press assumes no responsibility for any unsolicited material. Most of it will be shredded (or deleted) immediately. If we do request a printed manuscript, or if you take it upon yourself to send us one, it must always be accompanied by a post-paid envelope (or box) large enough to accommodate all of it so we can send it back to you if for whatever reason we can’t publish it.
12. If you opt to review the whole manuscript, how should it be formatted?
Manuscripts are normally forwarded to us by email as a file attachment in Rich Text Format (.rtf). We will also consider accepting file attachments in Microsoft Word in Office Open XML format with the file extension .docx. If you don’t have easy access to these proprietary word-processing file types, you may ask permission to send a manuscript printed on paper. Always include the word count. Our answer will depend on the length of the document and other details. The manuscript must be formatted according to the following specifications:
a. A one-page cover letter including your full legal name and address along with the proposed title of your work (which may be changed before publication).
b. A title page that includes the title of your work, any pseudonym you want to use for this manuscript, so identified, and which naturally can’t be overly provocative, suggestive, or vulgar; your full legal name; and an accurate word count. Your date of birth is optional but helpful. You may use either the day-month-year format (1 January 2020), the month-day-year format (January 1, 2020), or the year-month-day format (2020 January 1), as long as the name of the month is spelled out in full.
c. A one- to five-page synopsis of the work that includes your name or pseudonym, the title of the work, and an accurate word count. The pages must be numbered if there is more than one of them. Specify which of our 22 publication categories you’d like to have your work featured in. Note that this assignment may be changed at a later date and at our sole discretion.
d. The full text manuscript with each page sequentially numbered, preferably at the bottom of the page, and including a header showing the work’s title followed by the author’s name or pseudonym. There should be a one-inch (or 2.5 cm) margin around every page. Line spacing should be 1.5. The font shouldn’t draw attention to itself. We prefer 12-point Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman, Tahoma, or Verdana. As a general rule, words shouldn’t be divided into syllables no matter how much space they take up on a line, and the text must not be justified on the right. Extraordinarily long words may be divided so they can fit on the page. Those should be few and far between. Words that are normally spelled with hyphens, like re-evaluate and will-o’-the-wisp, retain them even if they span a line break.
There is normally no need to skip a line between paragraphs except to indicate a section break, such as a change of scene or viewpoint, or a lapse of time. Line breaks are also used in poetry to separate stanzas.
Sample pages formatted according to our specifications may be viewed here.
13. Does Weird Beard Press accept simultaneous or multiple submissions?
As a rule, no. If you want to withdraw a submission from consideration, please let us know as soon as possible after you’ve submitted it. Ask for permission before you send multiple submissions.
14. How are royalties paid?
Usually via PayPal, though authors with bank accounts in the United States may also be paid by check.
15. How often are royalties paid?
Once a month – usually beginning a full month after the sale is made. If a buyer returns a book for a full refund within thirty calendar days, no royalty will be paid for that item. Buyers shouldn’t try to return books they simply don’t want, but occasionally they do.
16. If my manuscript is rejected, may I appeal your decision?
We offer authors two types of rejection: conditional and final. The conditional rejection will specify what changes have to be made to the manuscript to make it more suitable for our readership. If you can implement these changes successfully, you may resubmit the manuscript. The final rejection means that even after a second consideration we’ve determined that the work doesn’t fit our publishing needs. If it’s subsequently rewritten completely, you may submit a follow-up query along with a one-to-three page summary of the changes you’ve incorporated into the manuscript. With your permission, we may contact you after a manuscript is rejected if the market for the subject in question changes.
17. What kind of material is Weird Beard Press interested in?
The twenty general rules are listed below. Please do not ask us to bend them. They will be expanded as we take on new clients and their projects. Our twenty-two main publication categories appear are listed at the bottom of the page.
18. Why can’t I self-publish on my own?
You can – with or without our assistance. What Weird Beard Press provides is expert editing of both fiction and nonfiction whose subject matter appeals to our readership base. We can also help you promote your work while you do what you do best – continue to write. If your work is consistently substandard, we occasionally offer to publish it, anonymously if you so choose, in educational material intended for beginning writers. Online retail catalogues are littered with subpar self-published works that attract little attention (and few sales). Editor Michael N. Marcus, author of the blog Book Making, describes a few of them in his brief but informative collection Stinkers! America's Worst Self-Published Books: Learn What Not to Do. Titles like The Bimbo Bundle: A Compilation of Bimbo Erotica, The Hood of Justice, In the Breath of a Moment, Invisible Condom: A Naïve Novelette, Moon People, Sumo Man and the Slit-Mouthed Woman show imagination, even promise in spots, but are all nonetheless badly in need of professional editing – some obviously more so than others. Books like How the Shapeshifters of Misha's Pizza Made Moprah Wollins Happen Using Holysammichs and Mustaches by Misha-nariesLovesAmazeballs (a group of fifteen female Tweeters) defy explanation and should rightly have been rejected for publication.
19. Will my submission be vetted for accuracy?
To a limited extent, yes. Our editors scan the manuscript for obvious factual and overall historical accuracy. We can’t always validate more technical information, such as the general atmospheric conditions on Jupiter’s moon Amalthea or the current vice laws in Vanuatu, in the same detailed way. We may ask you how you arrived at a certain conclusion, and which sources you consulted during the composition of your work. If your manuscript has to be thoroughly vetted by a credentialed subject matter expert, you will normally have to pay an extra fee for that service and credit the source in your work. Note that readers expect even works of highly imaginative fiction to be as logical, internally consistent, and true-to-life as possible, depending to some extent on the literary form or genre in question. In other words, authors may take greater liberties with satire than with memoir, but they must never abuse those liberties to the extent that readers no longer trust their judgment. This rule holds true for unreliable narrators as well.
20. If Weird Beard Press publishes my manuscript, how much biographical information will I be expected to include in my byline?
Virtually all our publications, including anthologies, include an “About the Author” blurb for each contributor running roughly fifty words in length. While you won’t be asked to include any truly personal information in it, such as your date of birth or home address, it will help generate interest in your work if you can tell readers what general part of the world you live in, what some of your interests are, what other work (typically in the same genre, but not exclusively so) you may have published, and whether you have any special qualifications that would lend authority to your point of view. Your contract will stipulate that you can’t deliberately misrepresent your credentials, but beyond that you’re free to create one or more authorial personas to promote your work, and in general to disclose as much or as little information as you see fit. Providing no information at all, however, prevents you from establishing rapport with your readers.
21. How long will it take for you to review and edit my manuscript?
The review process generally takes from four to eight weeks. Editing can take longer depending on the length of the manuscript. We all still have day jobs and typically need that much time to give your work the consideration it’s due. Please don’t contact us for a status report until six full weeks after you’ve submitted your manuscript. We’ll do our best to respond as promptly as we can.
22. My late husband was a brilliant writer, but he died before he could finish his novel. Could one of your editors add the last chapter?
Though somewhat unlikely, it’s possible. If you are the sole heir to his unfinished manuscript and can prove it, and if the work shows considerable promise, you may be able to sign a contract with us enabling us to finish the manuscript and publish it in completed form. If there are joint heirs, this could be more difficult. This kind of arrangement rarely comes to fruition, however, and we are normally interested in work that’s submitted in complete form that we may edit later.
23. My manuscript is in pretty good shape except for some minor spelling and continuity errors. Does Weird Beard Press offer proofreading or line-editing services?
As a rule, no. Spelling errors are typically the easiest to correct, so we don’t expect to have to deal with a lot of them. As the expression goes: garbage in, garbage out. Weird Beard Press may be interested in trash as art, but not in garbage. When such remain, deeper flaws are likely to persist as well. We can review a manuscript and let you know within a specific range how much it will cost you to have it satisfactorily revised. We work with authors who have spent most of their budget on research and have only a few hundred dollars left over for editing.
1. As stated above, all submissions must include an accurate word count. Individual works of flash fiction can be up to 1,000 words in length. Vignettes may run from 1,000 to 3,000 words in length. Short stories customarily run between 3,000 and 10,000 words. A short novel or novelette typically runs between 10,000 and 20,000 words. A novella runs between 20,000 and 40,000 words. A novel runs between 40,000 and 175,000 words. Non-fiction articles generally run from 2,000 to 4,000 words. Essays more often run from 4,000 to 7,500 words. Poems usually run between 100 and 300 words, and are typically published in sets of ten or more. Because poetry anthologies tend to sell poorly, we prefer to supplement them with short stories, essays, memoirs, or vignettes, usually written by the same author. We are primarily interested in publishing short story anthologies, essay collections, short novels, and non-fiction works running between 45,000 and 75,000 words. We don’t pay by the word, but we can charge customers higher prices for works at least 150 pages in length.
2. Narratives should be expertly crafted with a strict but not obsessive adherence to current grammatical rules and conventions (but not fads or trends). They should feature strong, realistic, three-dimensional characters who engage the reader’s interest and drive the carefully constructed plot through one or more conflicts towards an emotionally and intellectually satisfying conclusion. They must consequently never defy the logic of cause and effect, particularly but not exclusively in the realm of human behavior (even though they may involve non-human entities of various types).
3. Narratives must be entirely original, not derivative from any other author’s work, whether fiction or non-fiction, and should offer unique insights into one or more aspects of the human condition. Intertextuality is allowed to the extent that it stops well short of plagiarism. It is best employed with works no longer protected by copyright, such as the Bible, Greek myths, or the plays of Shakespeare. Exceptions may be made in some cases for parodies, though as a rule of thumb even these should be as original as possible.
4. Narratives should stimulate the reader’s imagination and engage as many of the senses as is practical given the author’s theme and overall intent. Speculative fiction in particular should take the reader to previously unexplored realms.
5. Regional usage should always be consistent, as should the overall tone of a particular work. The rule applies to the various dialects of English as well. American and British conventions, for example, shouldn’t be intermixed, though either is acceptable if used appropriately, as are other varieties of English. Non-English words should be used (in English-language texts) only when appropriate, such as when a character speaks French. It is a writer’s job to expand and enrich the reader’s vocabulary by occasionally using unconventional words and turns of phrase, in effect sending readers to the dictionary once or twice in a given work. Naturally the reader’s attention shouldn’t be diverted in this manner every few pages. The best writers regularly coin new words and idioms. Their meanings should always be clear even when they serve as double entendres. Accomplished authors resort to using profanity only when the context demands it, which it may from time to time, though not frequently.
6. Formulaic writing should be avoided at all costs, in terms of characterization, content, and style, as should clichés and stereotypes. It is generally more effective to show than to tell, that is, to describe intention, action, reaction, opposition, and aftermath rather than simply mentioning that they happened. This rule can be broken in certain situations by writers who know their craft well. On the contrary, no narrative should be drowned in detail. The most skillful authors keep readers guessing until the last paragraph or two, and never skimp on the payoff.
7. Although authors should avoid outright moralizing, it is inevitable that narratives will reflect their personal value judgments. These should consequently be as unambiguous yet also as unobtrusive as possible, without ever seeming facile or intrusive. The editors may question the ethical or moral tenor of a narrative to make sure it cannot be construed as encouragement to commit crime.
8. Characters should take risks and engage in confrontations. Main characters should at least by the end of a narrative understand the broader social implications and ramifications of the risks they take.
9. The editing we provide is always a give-and-take process. Authors may be asked to clarify their themes, intents, or messages to an editor to make sure these are presented without unnecessary ambiguity, however obvious they may seem to their creators. Acceptance for publication can depend on the clarity of your answers to these questions. You may also be asked what kinds of books you like to read, and which titles you’ve read recently. If you have trouble answering either question, Weird Beard Press is probably not the right publisher for you. You probably won’t succeed as an author unless you read a lot of relatively recent work in your preferred genre, along with many of the so-called classics that have established the prototypical forms that most writers follow today – even if you deem them antiquated or inferior to your own writing.
10. Though characters may occasionally exhibit or espouse bigoted attitudes, such as racism or sexism, the overall narrative should never deliberately demean an individual or group, especially on the grounds of age, sex, race, color, caste, socioeconomic class, religion (or lack thereof), ethnicity, background, national origin, education level, political affiliation or ideology, familial status, gender identity, gender presentation, sexual orientation, medical condition, or disability, whether actual or perceived. Criticism of the specific behaviors of individuals is allowed as long as it doesn’t openly encourage discrimination. That having been stated, overt political correctness is also best avoided. Your characters should be as realistic – and consequently as flawed – as living human beings, yet they should also work to overcome these flaws and learn from their mistakes.
11. The default pronoun referring to a singular antecedent may normally be either he or she. He should be used whenever the antecedent can only be male, and she whenever it can only be female (e.g., his sperm and her eggs). In other cases either pronoun may be used. The expression he or she should not be overused, and he/she should be avoided entirely, except in quotations. Except in informal speech (and quotations from other authors’ works), the pronoun they should refer only to plural antecedents. We understand that the use of referent pronouns is changing in the 21st century, so we allow more flexibility with them now than we would have in 2001. As editors we usually prefer to err on the side of caution. We encourage the use of literary alternatives such as Marge Piercy’s per and pers (for person, regardless of gender) or Sasha Newborn’s hu, hum, and hus (for human, again regardless of gender).
Authors must know their subject pronouns from their object pronouns. The object pronoun whom is almost obsolete in the spoken language and need not be used in most informal writing. Writers who do use it, however, must use it correctly. It is not a formal variant of its subjective form who. Writers must also know when to use you and I and when to use you and me. The latter is correct about as often as the former, depending on their use in a sentence. Errors abound in contemporary speech and writing. Our editors will reject any manuscript that contains more than a one or two at the most.
12. Infinitives should be split only if the alternative would sound awkward if spoken aloud by an educated person. Always compare the options. As a general rule, the adverbs not and never must never split an infinitive no matter how much you see them in contemporary journalese, thus to be or not to be and in my never-to-be-humble opinion. Modifiers should likewise never be misplaced or left dangling.
13. Upper- and lower-case letters, along with italics and quotation marks, must be used as the rules require, never haphazardly or inconsistently. Observe the following basic punctuation rules:
a. Except in direct quotations from sources that omit it, the serial comma should always be used in sequences of three or more words: no ifs, ands, or buts.
b. Diacritical marks can usually be left out in English print (with a few common exceptions, such as the noun résumé, which might otherwise be confused with the verb resume). When the context demands them, however, they should be used correctly according to the etymology of the word, as in quotations in non-English languages, thus façade, fête, fiancé (not fiance’), Fräulein, frère, naïve, and piñata.
c. With few exceptions, apostrophes are used to indicate possession, not plurals, thus the roads (a plural), the road’s end (a singular possessive), and the two roads’ convergence (a plural possessive). Apostrophes mark the plurals of single letters, to avoid ambiguity, thus a’s (the plural of a) vs. as (a common adverb, conjunction, or preposition). Proper names from antiquity ending in -s usually add only an apostrophe to form a possessive, thus Cyclops’ eye, Jesus’ Crucifixion, and Socrates’ teachings. Except in some set phrases and brand or trade names (such as Caesars Palace), more modern appellations normally form the possessive by adding -'s, thus Burroughs’s contribution, Fuentes’s novels, and Kazantzakis’s rendition. Beyond this stage the rules get complicated, and sometimes more than one usage is admissible. Authors are referred to reference works like Bryan A. Garner’s Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style. A full list of reference books can be found on our Resources page.
d. Don’t be afraid to use semicolon. It’s every writer’s unobtrusive best friend.
14. Libel, which consists of deliberate untruths or unsubstantiated allegations that harm the reputation of an individual, group, or other legal entity, is likewise to be avoided.
15. In all works of fiction, the names of characters and most businesses should be products of the author’s imagination, or at the very least used in a fictitious manner (as in the case of a time traveler who meets Julius Caesar). Any resemblance to actual persons, living, dead, or undead, should be purely coincidental. Except in npnfiction, incidents based on an author’s personal experience, which inevitably crop up in literature, should be fictionalized. An editor may ask if a narrative sequence is based on one or more actual events, and may suggest changes that keep it within the realm of fiction. There is usually no need to state the obvious. If you insist on stating it, be sure not to overstate it. Doing so will only insult your readers’ intelligence, and that’s the surest way to betray their trust. Even if you’re an unreliable narrator, you want readers to trust you and believe in what you’re trying to convey.
16. Even in nonfiction, the names of persons, places, products, and other identifying details may have to be changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved. Detailed disclaimers are often necessary.
17. Brand names, such as Coke, Jell-O, or Kleenex, may be mentioned in fiction as long as the intent is not to misuse or disparage them. Legally speaking, an author’s work cannot defame, dilute, infringe upon, or tarnish a trademark. Most brand names should be capitalized. That stated, in 2003, Google, Inc., sent a cease-and-desist letter to Canadian tech author Paul McFedries, creator of the Word Spy website described as “The Word Lover’s Guide to New Words” (and which we highly recommend), for simply defining the now generic verb google and including examples of its usage in popular media. The word still appears on the site. It is therefore recommended that authors err on the side of caution when using trademarked names. It is not necessary to mark them with the R or TM symbols.
18. The titles of creative works are not protected by copyright and may be freely quoted, reused, or (if necessary) parodied – as long as no infringement is intended. Song lyrics, however, are protected by copyright and cannot be quoted without permission. Titles of pieces submitted for publication should be as original, memorable, and thought-provoking as possible. Whenever feasible, the spelling and pronunciation of proper names used in fiction should be relatively straightforward and not unnecessarily contrived. Authors may be asked how names should be pronounced. The same rule holds true for authors’ pseudonyms.
19. The current fair use law (US Code, Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 107) states that “use of a copyrighted work…for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.”
20. Though derivative works by definition, parodies may fall under the heading of fair use. Again it is best to err on the side of caution and make the parody as original as possible. We prefer not to take chances with any narrative that might be considered questionable in this regard.
Additional questions? Contact us.
After you’ve carefully read the answers to Questions 11 and 12 above,
you may submit a proposal here.
1) atheism and freethought
6) fiction and literature
7) film and TV criticism
8) GLBTQIA+ studies
11) languages and linguistics
14) new age
18) science fiction
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Antioch, CA 95431-2925
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