GENERAL
                • What is Alternating Current?
                • Are you LGBT+ friendly?
COIL BOOK AWARD & PUBLICITY
                • Will you take on older books that are not brand new?
                • I’ve been accepted for publicity; will I be notified when I’m promoted?
                • How do I know if I’ve been accepted into the Goodreads Book Club?
                • How do I know if I’m still in the running for The Coil Book Award?
PRESS & SUBMISSIONS
                • Do you take unsolicited full-length manuscripts?
                • Do you ever have open submissions for unsolicited manuscripts?
                • Do you take referrals?
                • How many books do you publish each year?
                • Are you a vanity press?
                • Do you edit accepted submissions?
                • Will I get to see my work before it is printed?
                • Are you a paying press?
                • My manuscript was invited to your press; what’s the process?
                • My piece was accepted into Footnote; what’s the process?
                • My manuscript was accepted by your press; what’s the process?
                • What kind of work do you like?
                • Do you read every single submission?
                • What percentage of submissions do you accept?
                • Do you read submissions blindly?
AWARDS & PROCESSES




Q: What is Alternating Current?

A: Alternating Current is a boutique independent press team dedicated to publishing and promoting incredible literature that challenges readers and has an innate sense of self, timelessness, and atmosphere. We love science, history, homebound roots, rural landscapes, poetic literary fiction, diverse voices, and all that is electric in the literary world. Find out more about us here. Meet our staff here. Join our staff here.

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Q: Are you LGBT+ friendly?

A. Yes, yes, absolutely, yes. We have an LGBT+ Director (Hi, Amanda Jean!) who would be happy to talk to you about LGBT+ opportunities on our team, press, and journal. We feature LGBT+ spotlights on our journal all through Pride Month, too, so inquire about getting featured. In addition, anyone who identifies as LGBT+ is welcome to submit any material to our press, year-round, free of any submission or reading charge through this portal.

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Q: Will you take on older books that are not brand new?

A. Yes, we will. We will consider all books, new and old, sent in from publishers, agents, authors, and other PR people, without any exceptions. They will not all be chosen, as it is a selective process, but they will all be considered evenly. New publicity is a great way to revive older books, if your initial market is tapped out, and you want to extend to a new audience. We highly recommend publishers sending in their entire backcatalogs for prolonged publicity of older titles. Please note, however, that only books published in that calendar year can be considered for the Coil Book Award for that respective year. Any book at any time that matches our qualifications, however, may become a Coil Select Book. You can find out more information about the Coil Club here.

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Q: I’ve been accepted for publicity; will I be notified when I’m being promoted?

A. If you are being promoted in a post on The Spark, such as a book review, interview, Indie Book Radar, guest post, or other sort of column or individual feature, you will be notified in advance via email with a URL, a preview link (except for reviews because authors always try to change wording, and that’s not how reviews work), and a time of posting. If you are being promoted with a Book Blog Tour, you will know all of the sites participating in the tour in advance, and you should be proactive yourself in visiting those sites and promoting the blog tour, but we will also email you the URL as soon as the tour post is posted, and list all links on our tour page for your book tour. You can also get this information in our monthly digest by signing up for our email newsletter.

If you are being promoted via our social networks, then your notification will vary, and our promotion will be staggered across multiple networks. We will not send you emails or go point it out that you are being promoted; there simply isn’t enough time in the day for that. If you are on Twitter, be sure to give us your Twitter handle, and follow us at @altcurrent. We will @ everyone whose handles we know. If you are on Facebook, be sure to LIKE our page and check in regularly to see our latest posts. Facebook penalizes our promotion if we tag people in a post, showing it to a smaller audience than posts reach if they are simply left “public”; because of this, we do not tag in Facebook posts, finding it better to reach our max audience and direct them to your product than to notify you via a tag and risk reaching a smaller audience. Therefore; you will not be notified of Facebook posts; it is up to you to check the page frequently. The more you check the page and interact with posts by liking and commenting on them, the more our page posts will show up in your feed, per Facebook’s algorithms; so, stay active on the page to see our latest posts. If you are on Google+, you can add us to your circles and see our posts here. If you have a Google+ account, we will + you in our posts, so you will be tagged; if you do not have a Google+ account, then it is up to you to check our page. If you have an author account on Goodreads, we will tag you in any comments that we share on our Goodreads Group page. If you have a Goodreads account (not the same as an author account, since readers and authors are registered differently. Authors have to have one book published and can be linked; readers cannot be linked.), then join our Goodreads Group here, and either check the page often or turn on notifications for our page to be notified when we post something new. If you are on Ello, follow us here, add us to “Friends” not “Noise,” and we’ll tag you if we know your Ello @handle.

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Q: How do I know if I’ve been accepted into the Goodreads Book Club?

A. The Alternating Current Book Club is chosen by a selection panel. All books submitted to our Coil Club or read on our press are considered for the book club. Even if you are not accepted into the Coil Club, you are still under consideration for a book club selection, judged under separate panel. If you are selected, you will be notified of this via email, and it will not be a mystery. We do not notify people to tell them that they are NOT being included in the book club; you will only receive a notification if you are included. Please do not follow up with us to see if you are being included in the book club. We make the selections via a selection panel, and we notify you if you are included, and that’s it. Until you are included, you are not; there is no reason to follow-up with this.

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Q: How do I know if I’m still in the running for The Coil Book Award?

A. All books submitted to the Coil Club and read on our press are under consideration for the next annual Coil Book Award. Even if you are not accepted into the Coil Club, you are still under consideration for the award, judged under separate panel. If you are selected, you will be notified of this via email, and there will be an announcement made on our blog and website, with a full press release, in January or February of each year. We do not notify people to tell them that they have NOT won the award; you will only receive a notification if you have won. Please do not follow up with us to see if you are still in the running for the award. If you have not heard from us by the end of February of the following year after your book submission, then you have not won; we urge you to check our blog, website, and social media profiles for updates on the winner, rather than emailing us to ask about the winner. We make the selections via a selection panel, and we announce and notify the winner, and that’s it.

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Q: Do you take unsolicited full-length manuscripts?

A: The majority of the manuscripts considered on this press are submitted via invitation only, but we do have ongoing outlets for unsolicited manuscripts. In January/February of each year, we select a winning manuscript for The Electric Book Award to be published in winter/spring of the following year, and in June/July of each year, we select a second winning manuscript for The Electric Book Award to be published in fall/winter of the following year. Anyone at all may submit to The Electric Book Award, as many times and with as many prose, poetry, or hybrid manuscripts as you’d like, and your work will be considered by the judges for the next round. We also accept unsolicited fiction and creative nonfiction young-adult manuscripts that revolve around science, mathematics, history, engineering, computing, or invention, in a new and fresh way, for The Spark Award. For both awards, there are cash honorariums, plus other awards and sponsor prizes, and the winners are awarded publication, as well. You can submit to both of those contests here.

We acquire all other manuscripts through invitation, and we issue invitations only when we find work of impeccable merit. This does not mean that you have to be widely published before we’ll accept you; many of our authors are showcased here for the first time in print. We have no problem taking a chance on newbies. But, regarding invitations, we want to see that you have some stories and poems published in journals, that you have an audience, are immersed in the small or major press, and are taking your writing seriously. We don’t do well with fly-by-nighters. So, if you’ve never been published anywhere, go submit to some journals first and find your flow. We invite people whose work we see, read, and like. In addition, the majority of our invitees are people who have submitted to us through other methods, exposing us firsthand to the quality of their writing. We encourage you to submit to our contests first, and we may extend you further invitations. Do not query us with unsolicited submissions. We don’t look at them. If you really think you have something very specifically for our press, then you may email us, but our answer will probably be to tell you to submit to the contests and go through the proper channels.

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Q: Do you ever have open submissions for unsolicited manuscripts?

A: Our only open submissions for unsolicited manuscripts are through The Electric Book Award and The Spark Award contest entries. You can find both of those contests here. We never have free open submissions for unsolicited manuscripts. Some publishing houses have larger capacity, but we are small and specialized, and we don’t have the time or manpower to allow for the increase in manuscripts we’d get if we had free-for-all open submissions. We pay an external judging panel to read all contest submissions blindly and externally; this is the only method by which we have the time and manpower to accept unsolicited manuscripts at all, and we are thankful that this option is open to us and to you. If we removed this option, we’d have to shut all unsolicited manuscripts down entirely, as we’d be unable to read them. The contests provide us with this extra opportunity so we can see your work, and we hope you understand and appreciate that.

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Q: Do you take referrals?

A: Sure. We like that you like us. But the answer to The Big Question is probably still going to be no. See the two answers above. With that said, if we know about you, we’ll know to keep a lookout for your work. But a note to Alternating Current authors: Please don’t refer someone just to refer someone. Ask yourself first: Is this person’s work a right fit for Alternating Current? If you can’t answer with a zesty Jawohl!, then please don’t send him our way. That just wastes everyone’s time. Only refer someone whose work you, yourself, love. There is a difference between loving a person and loving a person’s work separately. Don’t refer a friend just because he’s a friend, if his work holds no water.

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Q: How many books do you publish each year?

A: It varies. Footnote: A Literary Journal of History take precedence for one out of the four seasons, and our Electric Book Award and Spark Award winners take up the majority of our early spring, late summer, and late fall. In what remains, we will print one to four books. We prefer to have a smaller, select number of books and to focus on making those selections top quality. We are always quality over quantity.

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Q: Are you a vanity press?

A. No. A vanity press is generally defined as a press that tells you your work is fabulous and “accepted” into its publication, only to make you pay astronomical prices for a copy of the book containing your work—and everyone else’s work, since everyone gets “accepted.” These are generally very predatory presses that you don’t want to submit to, and oftentimes, once you submit to them, they never leave you alone, forever trying to sell you something.

We are a real independent press. You submit your work to our press via our submission requirements. We accept or decline the work, based on our editorial needs at the current time. There are entry fees for some of our contests because there are cash prizes that get awarded and because we pay an external reading panel to read submissions blindly, for fairness across the board. Even most of these contests have a month or two where their submission entry fees are voided, and the entries are free. If your work is accepted, your work gets published at no cost to you, just as it should be. If you are published in Footnote: A Literary Journal of History, you will receive a complimentary digital contributor copy, and a contributor discount to purchase physical copies at a reduced rate, should you wish to do so, but you are never obligated to purchase anything. If your full-length collection is printed with us, you make a royalty per each sale of that title, and you will receive five complimentary copies and an author discount to purchase additional copies at a reduced rate, should you wish to do so. No authors are ever obligated to purchase anything. If your work is published otherwise, or you win an awarded prize, you will receive the prizes and publication stated for the respective publication or award won. We also do all we can to help promote and support each author after journals and books are published. As detailed here, we are a traditional independent press.

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Q: Do you edit accepted submissions?

A. Yes. Very, very carefully. We will edit every single piece, no matter how long or short, and we will brush its tender locks with a fine-toothed comb. We edit according to a style guide and will change obvious mistakes we find. We will fix all those Grammar-Nazi things—parallel structure, pronoun agreement, split infinitives, Oxford commas, unhyphenated compound adjectives—and we will comb through each piece for mishaps in continuity, punctuation, word repetition, etc. Once we are done editing, EACH AUTHOR will receive a PDF proof of EACH PIECE that is set for publication. No matter how big or how small, whether in print or online, whether a full manuscript or a teeny haiku in one journal—EACH AUTHOR receives a proof for EACH PIECE, period. Then, we talk through our mutual changes, until everyone is satisfied. It’s a beautiful, smooth-running machine that makes everyone happy, lets you see your work before it goes to print, and ensures that we have no surprises on launch day. In this business, no one likes that kind of surprise.

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Q: Will I get to see my work before it is printed?

A. Yes. See the answer directly above.

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Q: Are you a paying press?

A. Yes, for the most part. All work goes through agreed-upon contracts, so there are no surprises on payments, but for most everything on our press, authors get paid. For manuscripts submitted to contests, winning authors receive a cash prize and royalties accrued on the backend of publication. We do not pay advances, but royalties are accrued on all of our published books, beginning with the first sale. For individual poetry, prose, and hybrid pieces submitted to our contests, the first place winner in each category receives a cash prize, and eleven other pieces in each category receive publication as their only payment. Pieces published in Footnote: A Literary Journal of History receive publication and a complimentary digital copy as their only payment. Royalty payments are paid out via PayPal or paper check on the first non-holiday day of each month.

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Q: My manuscript was invited to your press; what’s the process?

A. Congratulations! You are officially the 1%. It is important, first, to distinguish the difference between an “acceptance” of a manuscript and an “invitation” to submit a manuscript for us to check out before accepting. An invitation does not automatically mean an acceptance. If we have extended an invitation to you or told you that it is all right to send your manuscript to us after reading a query, and you have gotten your yippees out of your system, then here’s what to expect: If we have asked to read a sample, then that’s what we want, a sample. For poetry, that means 10-20 poems that knock us off our feet. PLEASE NOTE that we ONLY print large volumes, full-sized collections, and generally, thematic works, in paperback. Be prepared with your manuscript to meet this requirement. If you are submitting poetry, your 10-20-poem sample should only be a fraction of the larger work, not the whole thing. We are looking for over 100 printed pages of poetry here, tied together by some common thread. If you are submitting a collection of flash, short fiction, or short creative nonfiction, please choose a selection of three or four stories to send us as a sample. Again, we look for a common thread, rather than just “a collection of stuff.” Your prose collections should be between 50 and 300 typed word-processor pages, although the maximum is just a soft guideline. If you are submitting historical nonfiction or translations, send us a sample, plus information about your platform, answering the question, Why are you the person who should write this book? If you are submitting a novel, then send the first three chapters, one or two of your favorite inner chapters, and a detailed synopsis. It’s okay to spoil the ending for us. ;) For long single-piece prose (such as a novel or novella), we’re looking for full books here, not slim volumes. If we’ve talked about the book already, which presumably we have, then we will have told you to email this material to us at alt.current[at]gmail.com. After you’ve submitted the sample, then there will be a waiting period for us to read it. We will try to respond within a month of receipt of your sample. An invitation does not automatically mean we will print your manuscript. Sometimes we have to reject even really, really good stuff because we simply don’t have time or space in our publishing schedule currently. If we do accept it, you will receive an email from us stating so, and you can find your next answer right here.

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Q: My piece was accepted into Footnote; what’s the process?

A. First, congratulations! If we’ve sent you that coveted acceptance letter, and you’ve responded with a resounding hip-hip-hooray, then the next step is to wait. You’ll get a response from us that will be something like, “Thanks for your enthusiasm! We’re excited for you, too! We’ll be back in touch with you as soon as we are laying out the issue.” And then, you’ll probably hear nothing for a long, long time, as we gather together whatever we need on this end. But, lo and behold!, we’ll be back in touch when we’re laying out the issue, just like we said we’d be! At the time of the initial layout of the issue or the accepted piece, we’ll send you an email telling you the time has come for your work.

If you’ve been accepted in Footnote, you’ll receive an email with a PDF proof that has been extensively edited by our staff of editors. This proof will look EXACTLY like the piece that goes to print. At that time, we will ask you to look over the proof, and reply to us with any suggestions or corrections. If you make extensive corrections to our proof, you will receive a new proof after our correction edits, which you will have to okay a second time. In addition to this, you will be asked to provide an author bio, a URL to your most-used website or social profile, your city and state (or regional/country information, if outside the United States), and acknowledgments for any places of previous publication for the forthcoming piece(s). Once everything has been finalized, you will receive an easy contract; you will have to okay that you have read and received these before anything will be printed. As payment, you will receive digital copies of the finished journal in all the popular formats. Before the journals go to print, you will be given the opportunity to order advanced copies at a discount, if you wish, and when the journals are released, you will receive an email with all the promotional information. We will feature the journal all over our website, through distribution channels, through review copies, on Twitter with the hashtag #Footnote, and on our Facebook page. We ask you to promote the journals, as well. We’ll give you our all; please give us yours, too. If you have review capabilities, please blurb and blog the journal.

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Q: My manuscript was accepted by your press; what’s the process?

A. First, congratulations! If we’ve sent you that coveted acceptance letter, and you’ve responded with a resounding hip-hip-hooray, then the next step is to wait. You’ll get a response from us that will be something like, “Thanks for your enthusiasm! We’re excited for you, too! We’ll be back in touch with you as soon as we are ready for your manuscript.” At this time, we will send you a contract. Once we’ve agreed upon the contract, and it has been signed by both parties, then we will send you a direct link to a private upload form that will show you what we want from you, formatting- and submission-wise. DO NOT FILL OUT THE FORM YET. We don’t want it; we just want you to look at it, so you know what we want from your manuscript. It’s important for you to know, at this point, that we are a traditional press, so you do not pay anything to be published by us (with the exception of initial entry fees, if you’ve submitted through a contest). We do all the editing, publishing, and follow-through marketing free of cost to the author, as it should be. You also should know that, at this point, if your contract is signed, then you’ve been accepted, your book is getting published, and it isn’t a secret. Feel free to tell your friends, social media, drum up the support, sound the trumpet. It’s really happening.

So, back to the waiting bit. We know that manuscripts take a long time to complete (or at least, they should!), and we also know that the longer your manuscript stays with you, the more polished it will be, as you comb over and over it and apply your finishing touches. We ask you to put your manuscript in a drawer (whether virtual or physical) and leave it there for a few months before taking it out and polishing it up again. We are excited about your manuscript, but we only work on one book at one time, in order to give each our full attention, so even though you’ve been accepted, we don’t want you yet. Wait your turn. Take this time, while you are waiting and waiting to hear back from us, to brush up your manuscript to perfection. Please. When we finally get the manuscript, we want it to be so close to perfection that we don’t have to rip it apart with our red pen. During this time, think about what you want to add to your book besides just the stories: introduction, forward, prologue, quotes, dedication, acknowledgments, afterword, blurbs/advanced praise (by professionals: teachers/professors, editors, authors, heads of organizations, publishers), sections/chapters, biography/about the author, author photo, other works available, snippets of forthcoming novels/sequels, cover art (if you have some in mind), that ilk. There’s plenty of time to work on collecting this material. When we get to your manuscript, we don’t want to hear, “Oh, I was thinking about asking my writing professor for an introduction. I’ll go ask him now.” That should have already been done. Take control of the time you have while you are waiting, and be professional in your approach to the completion of your finished work. We have our authors in a queue, and we work on their books in order. You really will have to wait your turn, no matter how excited you are. In this boring interim, we ask you to refrain, please and thank you, from asking us every week if it is your turn. It is not. We promise that you will know when it is.

And when it is, we’ll send you an email telling you the time has come for your work. In that email, you will receive the same upload link you received before, with all of the information about formatting your work to our specifications. This time, we actually want you to fill it out and submit your final manuscript. What we DON’T WANT, however, is for you to rush through this form. IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOU FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS carefully and fully. We just shouted that at you, so we hope you were listening. The link that we will send you is a private upload form from our online submissions manager, and it is for your eyes only, not to be shared with others. Some notes regarding your manuscript: Previously published and older works are readily accepted, with acknowledgments given. Again, we are looking for full-sized collections here, as we no longer print chapbook-sized work, so there is a minimum length in that vein, but there is no maximum length specification. We encourage writers to create categories/chapters/separators for their collections, if you have themes within themes, or groups that go together within a collection. You are also welcome to do a hybrid of poetry and fiction, if you write both. Give your work a killer title. Killer titles sell; “My Collection of Work” does not sell. It’s not rocket surgery, kids; people want to be excited by your work, and a killer title is exciting.

Then, the layout phase begins. We will work on your book, and only your book during this time (with the only exceptions to this being that we will have to take our required breaks to work on our ongoing or annual pojects at certain times of the week or year). We will be working extremely closely with you during this time, going over every tiny detail, discussing big picture and minutiae alike, hashing-out feel and style and overall concept of your book with you in a series of back-and-forth emails or Gchats. You will not wonder what is going on with your book during this time, unless we have told you that we have to take a break to work on one of our ongoing projects for the time being. In other words, it’s your turn, and you will know it.

Once we have gotten all of the kinks out, you’ll receive an email with a PDF proof that has been extensively edited by our staff of editors. This proof will look EXACTLY like the book that goes to print. At that time, we will ask you to look over the proof, and reply to us with any suggestions or corrections. Each time you make corrections to our proof, you will receive a new proof after our new edits, which you will have to okay each time, until we are both satisfied with the result. We will go back and forth like this until we reach the final version. There will be no surprises here. You will see the final versions of both the full wraparound cover and the full interior print pages before anything prints.

Once everything has been finalized for print, we will discuss all the details of your book, such as pricing and ordering information. You will make a royalty on each book sold through all distributor and self channels, with the royalty varying per distribution outlet, per your contract. If you purchase additional books from us, you can sell purchased copies at any price you wish (with the exception that any online sales must be at or above the stated price on Amazon, per their marketplace guidelines). You can expect your book to be in trade-ready, industry-sized, perfect-bound paperback, with both a 10-digit and a 13-digit ISBN (owned by Alternating Current), and also available as an eBook in various downloadable formats. You can expect the book to be available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, our various websites and social profiles, and other distributors worldwide. You will be given the opportunity at this time to order additional advanced copies at a discount, if you wish, but there is NEVER any obligation to purchase anything, EVER. When the book is released, you will receive emails with all the promotional information, press releases, links to various ordering sites, etc.

You will immediately receive five (5) physical author copies of the book, one digital contributor copy of the book, and a contributor discount to purchase additional copies at any time (at roughly half price; price is dictated by final page count), if you should choose to do so. The cover artist will receive two contributor copies, his name and artwork information printed both inside the book and online at the product page, and the same contributor discount that the author receives, should the cover artist wish to purchase additional copies. Cover artist copies DO NOT come out of the author’s copies; we ship them from Alternating Current separately, at no cost or penalty to artist or author. Authors will also receive promotional packets, including glossy postcards, business card-sized ads, wall posters with tear-off stubs, QR-code cards, etc. You can also expect a book blog tour, interviews wherever and whenever we can find them, full-color press releases to major outlets, and publicity marketing materials like an audiobook and a book trailer. In addition to this, we will send out physical and digital review copies. Authors will receive their royalties for each copy sold, paid out via PayPal on the first non-holiday day of each month. When units are sold, you are notified monthly. We will feature the book all over our website, through distribution channels, on Twitter with a designated hashtag, on our Facebook page, through ads in magazines and journals, and through our mailing lists. We ask you to promote the book, as well, obviously, as you have a chain of sources and networks to which we don’t have access. We ask you, please, to utilize every channel accessible to you. We’ll give you our all; please give us yours, too.

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Q: What kind of work do you like?

A: Ah, now there’s a loaded question to ask any editor, and yet, it’s what every author wants to know and needs to know. First, let me start with what we don’t want, as that’s often easier to describe. We are not interested in religious writing of any kind, although we will accept questioning, seeking of answers for what’s out there, and atheist views that are saying something new. There are plenty of Christian presses out there; we are not one of them. We can do without fluffy nature poetry, unless it really is saying something different or dissecting some part of nature in a new way. In a broader sense, we can do without fluffy poetry, period. If it sounds like something that should go in your private diary, then we don’t want it. Does that mean we don’t like happy writing? No, and it shouldn’t be taken as such. We just don’t want endless descriptions of clouds and birds and love, if nothing new is being discovered in these pieces. We don’t want hate speech of ANY kind, specifically: no racism, no stereotype perpetuation, no blatant sexism, no homophobia. Does that mean we’re wussies who can’t handle truthful controversy? No. We don’t mind cutting edge, controversial work, or work that walks the line. In fact, we prefer it. Just know that there is a difference in voice of a piece, a character, a message, and voice of an author spewing a negative agenda. We also aren’t really into extreme eroticism, extreme feminism (yawn), teen angst, writing aimed at children, experimental writing that is so disjointed that we can’t figure out what it’s saying, or work that you couldn’t be bothered to title. If there are numbers and symbols in the middle of your words, and parts of your words dangle off one line and jump somewhere else haphazardly, we don’t want it. All political opinions are considered evenly, but it might be helpful for you to know that there are no Republicans at the Alternating Current World Headquarters.

So, what do we want? We want to be surprised. We want to laugh. We want to gasp. We want something different that is not a warn-out cliché, but we still want you to hit the nail on the head, be right as rain, and have your heart in the right place, with a good thing that comes in a small package. We want something so universal, that we can read it again and again, and say, “Yes, we’ve also been there.” We want to see the world through your eyes, really see it, taste it, feel it, touch it, smell it. We want the five senses. We want passion. We want what we don’t know we want until we’ve seen it. We want work that doesn’t let us sleep at night. We want to be intimidated by your writing—to think, I wish I’d written that! We want you to send us your best work, not just the piece that you scribbled while you waited for your coffee to brew this morning; send us the piece you labored over, fretted over—the piece you have a hard time letting go. That’s the one we want—the one we have to wrestle from your fingertips. Pretty vague, huh? Yeah, well, the truth is that an editor doesn’t ever know what he wants until he’s blown away by it. So, all we want is for you to blow us away. Send us your best blowing-away piece.

Very specifically, we welcome all historical works; we love science and history. We love: nerdy humor, comic books, historical minutiae, Broadway, American and European history between the 1630s and 1880s, Bruce Springsteen, punk rock. It is true that Midwesterners, Great Plains residents, and Native Americans often get an unfair advantage here, as we love to hear from our hometown roots. We print mostly fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Straight-up nonfiction is a hard sell for us, unless it is historical in nature or has a really topical or thematic hook—then, we’re all ears. We don’t mind rhyming poetry, but make it good. Also, we look for killer titles. Please give your work a killer title, especially full-length manuscripts.

For full collections or full-length books, our tastes are currently for thematic works—works that are connected by some sort of theme, thread, or feeling (especially if it’s historical in nature), such as short stories about a Midwest hometown, poetry about the Civil War, metered verse about your travels through Paris, and novels that challenge readers and have an innate sense of self, timelessness, and atmosphere. We love homebound roots, rural landscapes, poetic literary fiction, diverse voices, details that leap off the page, and all that is electric in the literary world. We want to see an angle, a selling point, a unified whole, a heart at the center of your manuscript from which all the words streak like blood vessels.

WE ARE VERY INTERESTED in Native American translations and full-collection translations of historically overlooked foreign poets of the past (generally, pre-1923 public domain works by poets that are currently hard to find in print in English). Making poetry accessible in English from other languages is very important to us. Please note, however, that translations need to be extremely professional and handled with extreme care in preserving the original sense of the work. Translators must exhibit knowledge of both English and the language in question.

WE ARE VERY INTERESTED in young adult (Golly, we hate that term.) fiction or very-creative nonfiction prose or poetry collections that feature themes of science, mathematics, engineering, invention, computing, or history in a new and creative way, and that specifically DO NOT talk down to readers. Our aim is to get impressionable minds interested in science and history at a point in their lives when it could make a difference—the very foundations of our human nature, our roots, why we’re here, from whence we came, and where we’re headed.

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Q: Do you read every single submission?

A: For work submitted to contests and to blind submissions: Yes. We pay a reading panel to do just that. For the rest of the submissions: Mostly. If you submit to us, then we read every piece, usually multiple times, with only one exception: If you’ve submitted a 40-page story, and you haven’t captured our attention by page 20, then we might not read the rest, depending on our mood and/or how much time we have in the day. We will read enough of everything to make an absolutely unbiased, informed decision, but if we can tell right off that it is just going to be a solid no, then we don’t waste the rest of the time to read it. We absolutely respect and value your writing and the time it took you to write it; likewise, we are incredibly honored and humbled that you chose to submit it to our press, above all others. There are still, however, only so many hours in the day, and we don’t want to waste our time—or yours—by holding onto something longer than necessary, if it’s not going to get printed or if it’s not the right fit for our press.

As for full-length manuscripts: If the submission is unsolicited and not sent through the proper channels, then we probably won’t ever read it. We’ll just politely refer you to The Big Question up at the top of this FAQ. If it’s unsolicited, but it’s a slow day and we’ve decided to give the submission a shot, then you’ve got about 10 pages or a chapter to grab us. If we aren’t impressed with the opening, the tone, the voice, the writing, starting right at page one, then we won’t read the rest. Sorry, but there just isn’t time. WE WILL, however, read every single query and respond to every single query as swiftly as humanly possible. IN ADDITION, please don’t think that every single rejection means we weren’t impressed with your writing or that we thought it was terrible. There are lots of reasons we must reject something, and the biggest reason has nothing to do with how wonderful the manuscript is: Time. Space. We have to reject a lot of things that are actually really, really good, simply because we just don’t have the time or space for them in our current journals or schedules. Time is simply a real-world factor that rules us all and makes a lot of our decisions for us.

If your work is solicited or invited, then we read every single word, hundreds of times.

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Q: What percentage of submissions do you accept?

A. We currently are receiving about 200 unique submissions to each contest category. The Luminaire Award selects 12 poems and 12 prose pieces for publication annually, so that’s an average acceptance rate of 6% for poetry and 6% for prose. The Charter Oak Award selects 12 historical pieces for publication with the award, and roughly another 15-20 for further publication in Footnote: A Literary Journal of History, so the acceptance rate for The Charter Oak Award is 6%, and the acceptance rate for Footnote is 15%. The Electric Book Award receives about 200 unique submissions and selects two winning manuscripts for publication per year, with an acceptance rate of 1%, and The Spark Award is too new to know for sure what the acceptance rate will be, but we anticipate selecting one winning manuscript per year from a pool of probably fewer than 30 specialized submissions, with an approximate acceptance rate of 4%. Prose has a better shot at acceptance than poetry, since we receive more poetry. Authors who submit more than one piece have a better shot of getting work accepted. Unsolicited manuscripts sent through incorrect channels are not accepted, and solicited manuscripts are accepted 98% of the time. Please note that a solicitation or invitation to submit a manuscript DOES NOT automatically guarantee publication. If your manuscript is not up to snuff, it will still be turned down, even after an invitation is extended.

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Q: Do you read submissions blindly?

A. Yes, for all individual pieces and manuscripts sent. We pay an external reading panel that is not connected with Alternating Current to read through all blind submissions of poetry, prose, and manuscripts being considered for all contests. This allows us a very unbiased look at all submissions. Books that are sent for consideration for The Coil Award and Coil Publicity are not read blindly, as they are read from the physical, already-published and packaged books, containing the authors’ names and biographies.

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