We've been having a discussion about self-publishing, POD, new technology and the future of publishing and one thing that seems to show up a lot as the difference between traditional publishing and new publishing is the vetting process - self-published books don't have to be approved by anyone. Maybe this is good, maybe it's not.

Anyway, the discussion led to the idea of a community-driven anthology of crime fiction short stories that would use new technology - POD and e-publishing, I think - to publish.

Would anyone be interested?

The idea now would be to have a place on Crimespace where members could post short stories and the community could vote for their favourites. There's been a suggestion that the stories could be posted anonymously and I guess there'd need to be a way to limit one vote per person. Does anyone feel the honour system would work?

Then we would take the most popular stories and put them into an anthology. I also thought we could probably get it ready in time to have a launch at Bouchercon in Indianapolis in October.

As far as I know this hasn't been done, even though there's been so much talk about the potential of online communities.

Any ideas?

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You might want a way to limit the number of submissions per person. Honor system might work, might not. It's worth a shot, though.

One thing I would suggest is not to make a theme that everyone has to stick to. Like, for example, every story has to have a ticking time bomb in it. That kind of stuff limits creativity, and limiting the genre (hardboiled, cozy, etc) is no good for the same reason. A representation of the community means no restrictions. It may end up that the same kinds of stories are voted on, but that would at least be an accurate representation of the community.
I also have an idea for how we can post stories anonymously. Have one person create a forum topic as you just did here, and only that person is allowed to post in the forum (we can use the honor system for that). Everyone who wants to submit a story can email (through Crimespace) their submission to the forum host and he will post it on the forum, sans the author name.

This means that one person does know who submitted what, but one person isn't a big deal and won't affect the results (meaning the forum host should not be barred from participating in either the submitting of a story or in voting).
I like those ideas. That person can then be credited as the "editor."

Plus we should work out some guidelines on length, and such, then go for it.

Only if he or she does the actual editing.

I already put my support behind the anthology in the other thread.
There would need to be copy editors, for sure (and maybe the writers of chosen stories could copy edit each other's work) but I'd like to see this a true community-driven project with no traditional "editor" position.

Maybe each posted story could be open to comments and the individual writers could make any revisions they like before the "voting deadline," but the final stories should be up to each writer.
The "editor" could simply an "editor-in-chief" overseeing how it all goes together, but not diminishing the input of Crimespace members.
I think in general terms a Crimespace anthology is a great idea. After I ran the last short story comp there was some interest in doing one based on the stories but I didn't think there was enough material to fill out an entire anthology.

A plan I've had for Crimespace from the very beginning was to include a section for member-submitted flash fiction, similar to Tribe's Flashing In The Gutters. And an anthology of that fiction was also a possibility. My plan was to have a separate forum or forum category with posts needing admin approval. That way, people could post their stories to the forum and I could stagger the output to give people time to read and comment. The point of this system was to avoid having a lot of manual labour. This is software we're using, after all. That's what it's there for.

Ning is about to introduce a mechanism for extended customising and programming of the platform. I'm already waiting for it so I can write up a new Author Directory (the way I was doing it before is no longer supported). It's possible that this new customisation could allow me to make a section for automated anonymous posting but that may take some time.

Anyway, I don't have a problem with you and others going ahead with this. A community driven project is a very cool idea. I can't say I have the energy for such an undertaking but I'm happy to help from the Crimespace/tech side of things.
I like it, especially the idea of a Bouchercon launch.
I think an anthology is a great idea - but ONLY if it's edited - which I know is your intention. That's a lot of work for whoever does that.

I like the idea of a theme. Most anthologies are themed and people seem to like that. The theme can be wide enough that it covers all subgenres.

I like Daniel's idea of a separate forum for anthology stories with the facility for comments. And I think anonymous is best.
And Ning has a built in ratings system so I may be able to incorporate that. Between the comments and ratings, it should be clear which stories are the cream of the crop. Unless I get a strange and sudden influx of new members with subtle variations in their names ...
What interests me is the possibility of doing something different. I like the idea of, as best we can, having "stories chosen by the members of Crimespace," instead of chosen by a single editor or a small panel of editors.

Anonymous would be great, but of course, the writer would know whose story it is and so all that vote-rigging could just as easily happen then. Could we set it up so that only people who were members as of December 31, 2008 can vote?

There must be some kind of online voting system out there somewhere by now?
There are. I used to write fanfiction, and there was a yearly awards program that allowed the fans to vote on their favorite stories in a number of categories. The system can be set up to allow people to register by email address and allows only one voting session per address. Of course, then you get the ones who vote once for each of their email address, but if there's suspicion someone's doing that, their votes can be removed.

They've used several different voting systems over the years. I'm not sure what they're using currently, but doing an online search will probably turn up the most popular ones.


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