Strands is a new publication series presented by Ficticities, a collaborative laboratory that explores postcapitalist alternatives for publishing and distributing fictions. Offering particular promise is the possibility of writers organizing themselves into publishing houses, with each house being collectively responsible for writing, editing, formatting, reviewing, distributing, and promoting its own portfolio of fictions. Writer-run houses could ensure the quality and coherence of vision of their offerings, avoiding the overemphasis on commercial criteria imposed by the publishing industry without succumbing to the scattershot approach of self-publishing.
It is with the intent of investigating and enhancing the feasibility of writers forming Houses that Ficticities is launching the Strands project. Strands will be issued as a series of compiled volumes, each published as an e-book, in which contributing writers edit, select, and format one another’s manuscripts. Each edition will be organized around a unifying premise or thematic element – a “strand” – that spans diverse genres and styles. Incorporating a wide variety of texts into a thematically focused compilation can limn the intertextual vectors by which insular fictional zones are drawn together into cities, worlds, universes, linking writers and fellow explorers on collaborative trajectories that might not otherwise have been apparent.
Initial Strands. The first four thematic strands wind their ways through a host of actual and fictional realities. They also have metafictional impact on writers. Each strand is an entwinement of filaments to which a text might attach itself. The four initial strands are:
- Escape. Filaments include: discipline, punishment, constraint, threat, entrapment, tyranny, (ir)responsibility, freedom, fugue state, fantasy, refusal, evasion, flight, refuge, disappearance, emergence, portals…
- Discipline. Filaments include: practice, skill/craft, habit, rules/law, code, authority, punishment, sadomasochism, work, intent, pragmatics, instrumentality, specialty, profession…
- Audience. Filaments include: self-presentation, role, performance, entertainment, spectacle, judgment, fees, consumers, readers, attention, acclaim, humiliation, (in)visibility, voyeurism, narcissism…
- Commerce. Filaments include: sales, advertising, deals, contracts, schemes, ventures, money, exchange, risk, competition/cooperation, profit/loss, (un)employment, ownership, investment, servitude, precarity, ripoffs…
Writers are invited to contribute manuscripts in which one or more of the unifying strands is implicated in some way. All forms of text are appropriate: short stories, fragments of longer works, essays, reviews, memoirs, poems, plays, recipes, sermons, prophecies, ecstatic utterances, manifestos, jokes, fake ads, fake news, experiments, simulations, formulae, lists, outlines… The big-tent inclusiveness of Strands is compatible with the way fictions are already written, since arguably every novel incorporates non-fictional content. It’s also an attempt to recapture some of the broad original meaning of fiction as “that which is invented or imagined in the mind.”
For each text submitted, the author will be expected to edit two submissions and to make recommendations regarding acceptance for two other submissions, as assigned by the volume editors after the submission deadline. Guidelines for editing and reviewing manuscripts will be made available to authors.
- Email submissions and inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Writers may submit texts on any or all of the initial strands.
- Under 5,000 words is preferable though not mandatory.
- Previously published and to-be-published texts are welcomed if acceptable to the original publisher.
- No submission fee.
- No payment for published texts – the compiled volumes will be made available for downloading at no charge to readers.
Submission deadline: February 6, 2018.
If all goes well, by contributing to Strands you will have a piece published in an e-book and you will be credited with editing two other pieces. You will also help demonstrate proof of concept for an alternative publishing model in which writers join forces to create the best possible fictions. You will have collaborated with several other writers in shepherding a published book through the pipeline from start to finish. Then we can move on to the next phase of the experiment: dissemination.
I look forward to hearing from you and working with you.
Suggestions, corrections, critiques, comments?