Horror Writers Association Blog

HWA ‘Other Terrors’ Anthology Update


Dear HWA Membership,

We’d like to provide a few updates regarding the status of the HWA’s forthcoming OTHER TERRORS: AN INCLUSIVE ANTHOLOGY.

First, you’ll notice the title change. Formerly OTHER FEARS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF DIVERSE TERRORS, the editorial team at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt worked with us to fashion a stronger, more marketable title. We are thrilled with the new title and feel that it better encapsulates our theme and positions us better in the marketplace. In addition, in conjunction with our HMH editors, we have narrowed our choices for cover artist down to two—and either will be amazing!

Second, as you may have heard, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has been acquired by HarperCollins, which puts a tremendous amount of muscle—from design and editorial services to marketing and sales—behind this project. In addition, on a more humanistic level, HarperCollins has informed the fine folks we’re working with at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt that they are taking everything from their editors to their warehouse staff, warehouse building, supply chain and procurement, and even customer service reps. They have a history of recent acquisitions that went quite smoothly for all parties involved. Obviously, HarperCollins is a company that knows what book publishing is and understands the business.

Lastly, and most important to you, we have read through our member submissions. We received hundreds of submissions from HWA members. Over the course of the last few months, all were given our full editorial consideration. After our first (lengthy) round of readings and discussions, we will be passing on 79% of these stories, with rejection letters going out shortly. We are actively engaged in what we’re calling our “deliberations round” and narrowing the remaining stories down to acceptances and conditional acceptances. To explain, we saved room in the anthology for an allotted portion of the word count specifically from HWA members. Those stories we accept outright will be given those slots. That said, we are still awaiting submissions from several of our invited contributors. Until all of those submissions are received and given editorial review and acceptance, we are planning on holding a few additional member submissions in the event there is room within the allotted word count to accept a few more member stories.

We did think it might be helpful to provide the top four reasons why stories were rejected during this initial round of cuts:

  • The author included his/her/their name or other personally identifiable information in the submission. Apologies, but we conducted a blind submission process for a reason and were specific in the submission guidelines about not including such information. If you did, your story was not read and rejected outright.
  • The story did not capture the essence of the anthology’s theme of “fear of the other.” Admittedly, the theme was abstract and challenging—so don’t beat yourself up if your story fell into this category. This was a matter of who interpreted the theme the clearest, the most creatively. Some came close but, ultimately, fell short.
  • The story wasn’t horror. We had a surprising number of submissions that were decidedly science fiction, fantasy, or another genre altogether—and we were looking for horror stories. We were open to some form of hybrid or genre-crossover, but if the story failed to elicit a sense of dread or tension or outright fear, we passed. The horror elements had to be dominant and central to the story.
  • The story simply didn’t grab us enough to make it to the “deliberations round.” This might have been due to serious structural or technical issues with the story and/or the quality of the writing itself, use of horror tropes that failed to rise above the level of cliché, or because the story simply failed to connect with us on some level.

To those members who submitted stories, we want to thank you for submitting your work to us and for your patience as we thoroughly and deliberately made our way through all the submissions.

Vince Liaguno and Rena Mason, Editors

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