I need to announce some major changes moving forward for Bards and Sages Publishing. But before I get into the changes, I want to be transparent and honest about why these changes are happening.
The pandemic and subsequent disruption created by it have caused challenges for most of us. We’ve all been dealing with our own unique struggles, and I have not been immune to this. Since September of 2021, I have been dealing with generalized anxiety. More accurately, that was when I finally worked up the courage to have a frank conversation with my primary doctor about what I was dealing with. She helped me acknowledge that this wasn’t just something to “deal with” or “toughen up” over and we started working on a care plan.
Now may be a good time to tell people that if you are struggling with mental health issues, your primary care doctor is a great place to start. In many states, your primary care doctor can diagnose and prescribe therapies for a wide range of mental health issues. You don’t always need a psychiatrist or psychologist first. Your primary may also be able to get you referrals for more severe forms of mental illness and be able to work hand-in-hand with those providers to manage your overall wellness.
Part of my care plan requires reducing exposures to triggering activities or situations which cause undue stress. As many of you are aware, Bards and Sages Publishing is not a full-time job for me. I have a full-time job which has gotten increasingly demanding and stressful over the last few years. Like many of you, we’re being asked to accomplish more with fewer resources, fewer staff, and less support. I also have family and personal responsibilities. I’ve been able to make some changes in these areas, but the only place I really have 100% control is Bards and Sages, so that is where the majority of changes have to occur.
Best Indie Speculative Fiction:
We will not be publishing an issue this year. If my situation improves, we’ll revisit this project for next year.
The Society of Misfit Stories:
The September issue of The Society of Misfit Stories will be the last issue. As much as I love working on long-form fiction, it is no longer sustainable for me to manage two magazines. Individuals who purchased subscriptions that would have started next year have had their money refunded already. But….
Bards and Sages Quarterly:
The Quarterly will be expanded to include stories up to 20,000 words and continue to be published 4 times a year. Authors who originally had stories accepted for SMS will have their stories instead published in the Bards and Sages Quarterly. Impacted authors have already been notified of this change ahead of this announcement.
Submission Feedback Is Discontinued:
We will no longer provide feedback on stories that are rejected for our publications, unless we are requesting a revision. Dealing with abusive authors has frankly been a driving stressor for me. The majority of authors are wonderful and often so appreciative of feedback, and it hurts to have to cut this offer of feedback out. But I can’t take the abuse anymore.
It isn’t just the snark comments about how untalented my review team is, or how jealous I am of the author, or how I can’t recognize a “Amazon bestselling author” when I see one. If it was just stupid snark, I could just ignore it.
But it is actual threats of violence. Emails suggesting people know where I live and may want to “pay a visit.” It is the horrible misogynistic emails threatening rape because we dared to turn down a story. It is the private messages on Facebook and Twitter berating me. Its every few weeks having to reach out to Amazon because someone decided to one star a bunch of books in retaliation or because someone filed a fake takedown notice and now I have to prove my rights to publish something for the fifth time.
All from people who had EXPLICITLY requested feedback!
I’ve gone days without even opening my email, because I was terrified of what would be in it. And, of course, this has kept me from responding to legitimate emails and concerns.
If you have an existing submission in the queue for the Society of Misfit Stories, it will still be reviewed and will be considered for inclusion in the Bards and Sages Quarterly. So if you have a story in the SMS queue, you don’t need to do anything on your end. We will still review the story, though we will not be providing feedback if we decide not to publish it.
I already spoke to all of my current authors regarding their books. As the caretaker for their books, I felt an obligation to be honest with them about what I can, and can’t, do for them right now. It certainly would not be fair to them for me to unilaterally hold on to publishing rights for titles I can’t support to the degree they deserve. Any author that requested it was given a full release from their publishing agreement.
All of these changes are designed to help alleviate stressors so I am better equipped to manage the things I have to manage. I apologize if some of these changes negatively impact anyone, but I am no good to anyone if I am not good to myself first.
Updated submission guidelines effective 8-3-2022 for Bards and Sages Publishing can be found here: https://www.bardsandsages.com/contact_us/fiction_submission_guidelines