Joshua Palmatier — from Kickstarter to Antho


ZNB logo verticalAnd now it’s time for the third post here on Magical Words related to the upcoming release of the anthology CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK vs ALIENS, the first release from the new small press Zombies Need Brains.  In the first two posts, I focused on what I look for as an editor in terms of character and plot for the stories in the anthologies.  For this post, I thought I’d focus on what the process was for putting this anthology (and I assume all future anthologies) together, from assembling the kickstarter to getting that final book together and available for public consumption.

First off, Patricia and I have to select the theme of the anthology.  We actually have a small list of themes already sketched out, but for each one we weigh how strong the concept is and whether we think it will generate interest in the SF&F community.  Once we have the theme, we begin searching for artwork.  For these first few anthologies, we want to use crowdfunding as a way to generate the initial funds for the anthology, but we can’t capture the interest of backers without some basics already in place, and one of those is good cover art.  For CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE, I browsed Deviant Art and found “Steampunk Octopus” by Alex Broeckel and thought it was perfect for the anthology.  I expected the rights to be far too expensive, but Alex and I came to an agreement, and we were set to develop the Kickstarter!

Which is a job unto itself.  You can’t simply throw up something on Kickstarter and expect it to get funded.  You need something to draw the backers to the project.  For an anthology, one of the best draws is the authors participating, so I approached a slew of known, published authors to see if they’d be interested in the project.  I call these “anchor authors” and I usually shoot for about seven, or half of the anthology.  Then I began planning out some of the stretch goals, to try to keep the Kickstarter growing even after it’s reached that initial funding goal.  Every additional pledge helps us produce a bigger, better anthology in the end.  Balancing the cost of everything that you promise in addition to the actual anthology is key, plus there’s the cost of paying the authors, the editor, the cover artist, the designers of the book, etc.  It’s a numbers game (so it probably helps that I’m a mathematician).

But then it’s go time.  The Kickstarter is typically insane and sucks up all of your life for the 30 days of its run.  But once it’s over, there’s a break, because that’s when the writers who are anchor authors and those who’d like to submit for the remaining slots in the anthology start writing.  Not that you can relax, because there’s still promotional things that can be worked on.  I designed postcards, bookmarks, set up the ZNB website, etc., during this time.  But then the stories started pouring in, and Patricia and I began wading through them, narrowing it down to the final set of 14 stories.  We like variety in our stories—from humorous to dark, different tones, different styles.  Striking the right balance for the anthology as a whole takes entire days of reading, discussing, drinking, and chocolate.

After sending out acceptance (and unfortunately rejection) letters, it comes down to composing revision letters for each story, followed by copy edits after the revisions are in.  This usually takes a few months, and involves much hair-pulling and more drink.  We want the stories to be perfect and focus on making them as good as they can be.  Once we and the authors agree on final drafts, we send out contracts.

At this stage, the authors get to relax while I start getting the interior of the books and the cover designed.  ClockworkUniverseCoverWe’re in the middle of the production stage as I write this, trying to get the book ready to be sent to the printer, or files set up ready for the distributor for the ebooks.  I’m generally stressed out by the amount of questions about details that goes into this part of the process.  There’s more going into a book design than you think, from tweaking that font on the cover so that it’s perfect, to choosing a particular “house style” for grammar and punctuation in the text itself, not to mention making sure the file types are correct for the printer or distributor.  Plus there’s assigning the ISBN numbers for each version of the book (print and ebook), copyright, etc.  But all of this stress is balanced by the excitement that you know the book is within months of being OUT THERE, ON THE SHELF, READY FOR THE READERS!  And that’s why you do this.  It’s why I write my own books and short stories, and why I decided to take the plunge and set up the small press.  I can’t wait for the readers to get the books in their hands and sink themselves into the worlds that we’ve created.

I’m certain there will be a few surprises between now and when the anthology actually hits the shelves, but I’m focused on that day when the book is available and ready for readers.  I’m also focused on what comes after.  Not just what the readers might think about the book, but also a step beyond that:  the NEXT anthology.  *grin*

Thanks again for reading and to Magical Words for inviting us to guest post this month!  If you’d like to learn more about me or Zombies Need Brains, check out these webpages:

Joshua Palmatier: 
Zombies Need Brains: 
Zombies Need Brains Online Store:

Author Bio:  Joshua Palmatier is a fantasy writer with a PhD in mathematics.  His upcoming novel SHATTERING THE LEY (July 2014, DAW) is the first book in a new series, set in the same world as his “Throne of Amenkor” series.  He is also the founder of the new small press Zombies Need Brains LLC, which will focus on producing quality science-fiction and fantasy themed anthologies.  It’s first anthology release will be CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK vs ALIENS, currently in the production phase, to be released sometime before July 2014.  Joshua has also published numerous short stories in various anthology.  Find out more at and

   Social Media Info: 
Joshua Palmatier: 
Twitter:  @bentateauthor 
Zombies Need Brains: 
Online Store: 
Twitter: @ZNBLLC


3 comments to Joshua Palmatier — from Kickstarter to Antho

  • quillet

    Thanks for these posts, Joshua, I’m enjoying this look into the creation process for an anthology. Sounds like a LOT of work. …And a-ha, I just knew chocolate had to be involved somewhere! 😀

  • quilled: Of COURSE chocolate is involved! Chocolate is involved in any creative process, especially writing. It’s why I’m always going to the gym after a heavy duty writing session. *grin*

  • NewGuyDave

    *sends large volume of chocolate to Binghamton, NY*