By Sherrie Cronin
While independent authors can find many expensive ways to promote their books, and a few free ones, SWFA offers an opportunity for gaining both income and that coveted exposure all authors seek. For the past five years, SFWA has collaborated with StoryBundle (website) to produce annual collections of fantasy and science fiction e-books, published either independently or by a small press.
These bundles of twelve to twenty books have sold well, and the response from authors has been enthusiastic. SFWA recently expanded to curating two bundles of each genre per year. That doubled effort is a response to a more-than-doubling of submissions, the high quality of those submissions, and our enthusiastic Independent Authors Committee that has eagerly taken on this extra effort.
What is a StoryBundle?
StoryBundles are curated collections of e-books, offered for three weeks only and at a discounted price. As the company describes itself, “StoryBundle is a way for people who love to read to discover quality indie books written by indie authors.”
Readers select what price they’d like to pay for a core collection of a few e-books. They can unlock the rest of the bundle by contributing at least $20 to their purchase. Proceeds go to the participating authors, small press publishers, and StoryBundle. A small cut is also donated to SFWA’s ongoing work to promote, advance, and support science fiction and fantasy creators.
Does any book qualify?
Both StoryBundle and SFWA have restrictions on which books can be included in the bundle. StoryBundle will not run the same book twice, nor will they include a book that is free at the time the StoryBundle is available for sale or that has recently been permafree anywhere online.
SFWA welcomes submissions from members and nonmembers, including from small press publishers, as long as the publisher agrees in writing to the StoryBundle terms. We consider full-length novels of over 40,000 words, but only if they are clearly stand-alone stories or the first in a series and there is no required reading of a prequel work to understand the story. Anthologies are not eligible, but collections of short stories and omnibuses are considered if the stories form a coherent (i.e., mosaic) novel.
We only accept one novel per author for each submission call.
What’s the SFWA StoryBundle Schedule?
SFWA solicits fantasy novels fitting a broad theme in the late spring of each year. Depending on the number and quality of submissions received, two related bundles may be curated at that time. One StoryBundle is offered in October, and a second the following April.
SFWA solicits science fiction novels fitting a broad theme in the early fall of each year. Depending on the number and quality of submissions received, two related bundles may be curated at that time. One StoryBundle will be offered in February of the next year, and the second one will be available the following August.
These opportunities will be publicized through all SFWA channels, as well as through social media catering to the independent author.
Who selects the books?
The SFWA Independent Authors committee assembles a panel of screeners consisting of fellow authors, editors, and others involved in SFF publishing. Each submission is considered by at least two evaluators, and the final selections are reviewed by at least five panel members.
Non-SFWA members are welcome to join this panel! If you are interested in serving as a screener, email Storybundle@sfwa.org.
How can I increase my book’s chances?
We aim to fill each bundle with well-written, interesting stories that fit the theme. So, obviously send us one of those!
However, if you have several to choose from, keep in mind that we have to narrow our choices down from a large selection. A book with a better cover, more positive reviews, and expert formatting and editing is less likely to be cut early on. Books with a strong start also have an initial advantage, as we begin our screening process at, well, the beginning.
We seek a well-rounded collection that includes a variety of subgenres and a diversity of authors, settings, and characters. We also look for unique takes on our theme, which means you should never self-reject if you think your book only kind-of fits!
Conversely, because readers do not select each book individually in a bundle, we avoid books that preach a strong message or contain content that many readers may find disturbing. Those books have a place! But we prefer not to roll them into our bundles.
If you’d like to learn more about the process, and therefore increase your chances of having a book selected, consider volunteering as a screener. It’s an informative experience sure to provide plenty of food for thought for any independent author.
Sherrie Cronin is the author of a collection of six speculative fiction novels known as 46. Ascending and is now in the process of publishing a historical fantasy series called The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters. A quick look at the synopses of her books makes it obvious she is fascinated by people achieving the astonishing by developing abilities they barely knew they had.