I’ve been asked a couple times about the selection process for Year’s Best Weird Fiction. Here’s what we are doing:
I try to cast as wide a net as possible. I basically hound publishers and editors for digital copies of their books. I prefer digital files as I can load the books on my tablet and easily access them on my commute to work. That’s where the bulk of my reading takes place – on the train to and from work. 40 minutes each way. And I also read a bit on my lunch break.
I’m on the lookout for any anthologies and short story collections that may contain weird fiction. And though I do constantly hound people for books, there are quite a few times when a publisher is simply non-responsive. There’s only so much I can do.
Thus far, I have received 71 books this year for review. I’ve read about 60 of them. On top of that, there are 51 (so far) online journals and magazines that I am monitoring and reading.
If I read a story that I think should be considered for the volume, I will ask the publisher or writer for a Word document file of the story. I explain to them that I would like to pass it along to my guest editor, Simon Strantzas, for further consideration.
Once I have the file, I note it in my Excel sheet. Then I strip the byline and any other identifiers from the story and send it along to Simon. He’s reading the submissions blind.
I estimate I’ve read 1200 stories so far. I’ve passed 16 along to Simon. By the end of the process, if previous years are to go by, I will likely have read 2500 – 2800 stories and passed along between 50 – 60 for final consideration.
Though the final stories are filtered through my aesthetics and sensibilities, the guest editors are free to read on their own and to make their own choices. My tastes are wide-ranging enough, I think, to offer a good selection to draw from.
All final selections for inclusion in the anthology are the responsibility of the guest editor. It makes for an exciting and vibrant volume.