Universe Annex Submissions

Submission Instructions and User’s Guide

[Revised: 23 August 2010]

I – Introduction

II – Participation

III – Posting Stories

IV – The Process

V – About Manuscripts [ section pending]

IV – Membership [ section pending]

VII – About Baen’s Universe Annex [ section pending]

VIII – Baen’s Writer’s Workshop [ section pending]

I – Introduction

This is your guide to submitting to the Universe Annex, the section of the Grantville Gazette that publishes general science fiction and fantasy short-form stories.

There’s a lot of information here, but it is intended to help you work with the process. This guide explains how to get to the Baen’s Universe newsgroups, submit stories, and participate. It’s not your ordinary “throw it over the transom and hope” process, but we like the more interactive, workshop approach. We hope you like it, too.

The submission process is a combination submission venue and writers’ workshop.

The Universe Annex will emphasize discovering and developing new writers, as the Introducing section of Jim Baen’s Universe did. However, any writer—at any level—is welcome to submit stories to us. But you need to follow the procedures we have in place.

SFWA lists the Grantville Gazette as a professional market. The pay rate is five cents per word, which will increase to six cents a word on 1 July 2014.

We prefer stories under 15,000 words, with a strong preference for under 10,000 words. However, we will consider longer (novella-length) works, but will have to split longer stories over multiple issues.

II – Participation

To participate in the Universe Annex, you must first register with Baen’s Bar, simply follow the on-screen registration instructions. As always, record and remember your selected Username and Password. You will also be asked to provide an email address. Upon registering, you will receive a confirmation email, at the email address you provided. Click on the link in that email to confirm your registration.

Once registered, you may login to access the Baen’s Universe forum area on Baen’s Bar, to read and critique posted story manuscripts, or to submit a manuscript of your own.

Note: Baen’s Bar originated on computer bulletin board systems, well before the World Wide Web was overlaid onto the Internet in the mid-1990s. Jim Baen designed the Bar to resemble a virtual SF convention, where the hotel bar serves as the central watering hole and meeting place. And he called the various forum areas “conferences”—where authors could hold court, where people with similar interests could congregate. The term stuck, and decades later, the terms “conference” and “newsgroup” are used interchangeably.

The term “newsgroup” results from the fact that the Bar is accessible through the web interface, by email, and by newsreader. “Newsgroup” is the term used by news servers and newsreaders.

The term “forum area” can refer to a single conference/newsgroup, or it could refer to refer to a group of conferences/newsgroups. The Baen’s Universe forum area usually refers to the group that consists of “Baen’s Universe Slush,” “Baen’s Universe Slush Comments,” and “Baen’s Universe Facts.”

Navigate as follows:

1 – Login to Baen’s Bar.

You will be sent to a screen divided into three panels. The upper left panel lists Newsgroups. The lower left panel displays topics from the currently selected newsgroup. The right panel displays the contents of the selected item in a subject.

 

2 – Scroll down the Newsgroups panel to “Baen’s Universe Slush.”

This is the newsgroup to which you post your manuscript or choose a manuscript to read.

If you select “Baen’s Universe Slush,” then the panel below it will re-title to “Baen’s Universe Slush” and display a list of recently submitted manuscripts available for members to read and critique. If you do not see any story titles listed, click on the “ALL” button at the top of the lower-left panel.

Select a title from the lower left panel, and the right panel displays the story for you to read.

Please do not use the “REPLY” or “QUOTE” buttons to comment in “Baen’s Universe Slush.” This area is reserved for the submission of story manuscripts. As an example, suppose that “Baen’s Universe Slush” lists a manuscript named “The Great SF Story V03 (2500 words).” To comment on the manuscript, go to “Baen’s Universe Slush Comments” newsgroup.

3 – From the Newsgroups panel, immediately below “Baen’s Universe Slush,” select “Baen’s Universe Slush Comments.”

This newsgroup accesses comments on a particular story from “Baen’s Universe Slush.”

Once selected, the lower left panel will re-title as “Baen’s Universe Slush Comments.” For each manuscript submitted to “Baen’s Universe Slush,” there should be a corresponding title with the postfix “comments.” For example, “The Great SF Story V03 (2500 words) – comments.”

Select the title, and you should see notes from the author about the story she posted in Baen’s Universe Slush, and a request for comments or suggestions. If you do not see any comments titles, try the “ALL” button at the top of the lower left panel.

Don’t expect that the request for comments will be in the same order as the stories appeared in “Baen’s Universe Slush,” because the Web interface displays subjects in date order, based on the date of the most recent post within a subject thread.

Each request for comment may be followed by a thread of responses, usually labeled like a return email with the prefix RE:, for example “RE: The Great SF Story V03 (2500 words) – comments” would be a comment in the thread for The Great SF Story V03 (2500 words).

If a subject has responses, then a “+” (plus sign) will display to the left of the subject title. Clicking on the plus sign will expand the thread within the lower-left panel.

You can read each individual comment by selecting it in the lower-left panel. The selected comment will display in the right panel.

You can also click on the subject originating post, then click “Thread” in the right panel. This will display the entire thread in the right panel.

“As an alternative, you can click on “Float” in the right panel. This will display the entire thread in a new browser window.

If you read the story and have comments or suggestions for the author, this newsgroup is the place to comment on a story.

4 – To comment on a story (See Critiquing Etiquette [critiquing section pending]):

 

  1.  For general comments, select the author’s request from the “Baen’s Universe Slush Comments” panel. The details of the request appear in the right panel.
    • At the top of the right panel, select REPLY. A blank panel and editing keys appear in the right panel. Enter your comment.
    • As an alternative (and the preferred method if your comments are longer than one or two sentences), type your comments in a simple text editor and then copy/paste them into the response panel.
    • When you have finished your comments, check the panel header to be sure your response goes to “Baen’s Universe Slush Comments” and verify your user information. Then click on the “Post Message” button on the editing bar. Be sure to wait for the editing bar to disappear and your post to replace it before you switch to another activity.
  2.  For responses to other member’s comments, select the user’s comment from the Comments panel. When the user’s comments appear in the right panel, select the “Quote” button at the top of the panel. Continue with your response as described in general comments(4A).
    • When responding to another comment, it is important to use the “Quote” button, versus the “Reply” button, because people reading the comments by email may not have at hand the earlier post to which you are responding. Quoting the original post lets others know what you are responding to.
    • The custom on Baen’s Bar is to “top post”—that is, post your response above what you are responding to—so that people don’t have to scroll though the original post to get to your response.
    • It is considered a courtesy to “snip.” If you are responding to a small portion of a long post, then snipping out the non-pertinent portions of the original post reduces download times (for those with slow connections, and for those who read on handheld devices).

5 – Before posting a manuscript, it is a good idea to critique some manuscripts to get a better feel for the Bar. 

There is no requirement that you critique other stories in order to submit a story manuscript, but the experience may well make you a better writer, and the other members will appreciate your efforts. See suggestions for critiquing [critiquing section pending].

 

III – Posting Stories

  1.  Post a story manuscript:
    1.  Bring up your story manuscript in your word processor. Select/Highlight the contents of the story and then copy (with the copy button of your word processor or use {CTRL-C}).
    2.  Login to Baen’s Bar.
    3.  Scroll down the Newsgroups and select “Baen’s Universe Slush.”
      1.  From the upper left corner, select the “New Post” button (envelope icon).
      2.  The right panel will display the “Post New Message” screen. At the top of the right panel you should see “Baen’s Universe Slush,” your username, and email address.
      3.  Move the mouse pointer to the “Subject” line, and click on the mouse to place the text cursor in the “Subject” line. Then fill it in with the name of your story, the version number and the approximate number of words (round the word count to the nearest hundred.) For example, to post the second version of a manuscript titled “My Story,” which your word processor counts as 2673 words, enter the following on the subject line: My Story V02 (2700 words)
      4.  Move the mouse pointer to the main message box, and click the mouse to place the text cursor in the message box. Now hold down the Ctrl key and press the V ({CTRL-V}) to insert your story at the cursor. Your story should appear in the message box.
      5.  Scroll through the story and check the formatting. Be sure to delete any personal information that you do not want to post (example, your phone number).
      6.  If you experience a loss-of-format or other problem, cancel the operation by using the REFRESH icon above the Newsgroups panel, not your browser’s refresh. Once the screen clears, try copying your story to a plain text editor and start over.
      7.  If the format looks good, click the “Post Message” button on the edit bar. Be sure to wait for the screen to clear and your post to replace it before you attempt any other actions.
    4.  Once your story is posted to “Baen’s Universe Slush,” you need to set up a comments thread to get reader feedback in “Baen’s Universe Slush Comments.” This is an important part of Baen’s Writer’s Workshop aspect of The Universe Annex.
  2.  Set Up a Comments Thread for your Story in Baen’s Universe Slush Comments.
    1.  Be sure your story is successfully posted to “Baen’s Universe Slush.” At the top of the Newsgroup panel, select the REFRESH icon (not your browser’s refresh). You should see the title of your story in the lower left panel.
    2.  Now scroll down the Newsgroups list and select “Baen’s Universe Slush Comments.”
      1.  In the upper left, select the New Post icon. The right panel will display the “Post New Message” screen, and your user name and email address appears. Be sure the message is directed to “Baen’s Universe Slush Comments.”
      2.  Fill in the subject line with the name of your story, version number, and append the word “comments.” For example, if you posted “My Story V02 (2700 words)” to “Baen’s Universe Slush,” then enter the following into the subject line: My Story V02 – Comments.
      3.  In the main message box of the right panel, enter a message. It could be as brief as, “I’ve posted a story.” Or you can use this message to alert the reader (e.g. British spellings, story based on a development at NASA) or any particular focus you would like from the comments (need help with the ending, etcetera).
      4.  When finished with the entry, click “Post Message” on the editing ribbon. Wait for the screen to clear and the post to appear before attempting any other activity.
  3.  You are now ready to receive and reply to comments.

When replying to a comment, a “thank you” is always appropriate. Do not take comments about your story personally—they are intended to help you improve your story’s chance in the process.

 

Note: If you compose your manuscript in OpenOffice.org Writer, then you must either:

  • Save the file as a text file, then copy/paste from that text file to the Bar’s posting window

or

  • Copy/paste what you are going to post from your word processor to a simple text editor, then copy/paste from that text editor to the Bar’s posting window.

 

If you copy/paste directly from OpenOffice to the Bar’s posting window, then what you post will be invisible to those who use Internet Explorer (the default web browser on Windows-based computers).

IV – The Process

The Universe Annex section of the Grantville Gazette publishes short-form science fiction and fantasy. The editorial emphasis for the Universe Annex will be adventure stories (with “adventure” very loosely defined). But we will consider any science fiction or fantasy story.

The “Baen’s Universe Slush” forum is first and foremost the submission venue for The Universe Annex. As such, we consider all stories posted to be submissions for publication.

However, the “Baen’s Universe Slush” forum is also a writers’ workshop, and we consider the critiquing process to be vital to what we do.

The overall process is:

  1. Submit your story [example, My Story V02 (2700 words)].
    •  The story will be read and critiqued by other forum members.
    • You may respond to their comments.
  2. The editorial staff will monitor the story and critiques and may comment themselves.
  3. Based on the comments, you may want to revise your story—and you can.
    • When you have a revision ready, submit the new version with an updated version number and adjusted word count [ex. My Story V03 (2900 words)]. Then complete all the steps in “Posting Stories.”
    • The editorial staff will monitor the progress of each new version of your story.
    • There is no limit to the number of times a writer can revise and resubmit. But in our experience, it is in a writer’s best interest to wait at least a week before submitting a revision of a story.
    • A writer is under no obligation to follow the suggestion of anyone who offers a critique—or even the advice of an editor, for that matter. However, please do take advantage of any feedback that you think will improve your story. Remember, this is a writer’s workshop as well as a market for science fiction and fantasy.
    • As a general rule of thumb, the time to stop revising is when any further changes would make the story different but not better. It’s up to the writer to decide when a story reaches that point.
  4.  If one or more members of the editorial staff likes your story enought to want The Universe Annex to publish it, then you will receive an “RTF request”—that is, a request for the manuscript in RTF format to be sent to a specified member of the staff as an email attachment. The story will then be forwarded for final consideration.
  5.  A posted story will not receive a formal rejection.
    • A rejection tends to remove the impetus to revise, and a subsequent revision might be the one that breaks through.
  6.  If your story has been on the forum for three months, then you may assume that it has not been selected for further consideration. (The three month clock resets with each new version.)
  7.  If, before three months elapses, you decide that you’d like to submit your story elsewhere, you can post a message in your comments thread stating that you are withdrawing the story from consideration.
    • This is for the writer’s protection.
    • The Universe Annex allows simultaneous submissions, and you are free to submit your story elsewhere while it is still under consideration here. But not all markets allow sim-subs, so the formal withdrawal allows you to adhere to the rules of other markets.
  8.  If you sell your story to another market while it is submitted on “Baen’s Universe Slush,” please add a comment to your story’s thread announcing the sale.
  9.  The Universe Annex also allows for multiple story submissions.
    • However, please exercise reasonable restraint and not flood the newsgroup with too many stories at once. If you have two stories to submit, it’s fine to post them both at the same time. But if you intend to post three or more stories, then consider posting them one per week—then after the last one, post the revisions one story per week.

[Thanks to Ron Ferguson (known on the Bar as DrCrispy) for composing the draft for this User’s Guide. Also thanks to David Steffen (steffenwolf), Mike Barker (‘nother Mike), and all the other Bar flies who contributed to the development of this guide.—The editorial staff.]