Welcome, Mechanist!

What’s next?

As a semi-professional publication, we work routinely with inexperienced writers and those with very limited experience. For the purposes of this explanation, we’re going to err on the side of caution and pretend you know absolutely nothing about the editorial process.

Agreement

Nothing happens until the Publication Agreement is signed. We encourage you to thoroughly read the agreement and ask us to clarify anything you’re uncertain of before signing.

Please be sure to follow the instructions in the acceptance email and send us a brief professional bio. (No more than 300 words.)

Scheduling

After your publication agreement is signed, you’ll receive an email from Alin containing your anticipated publication date and a link to your draft. These emails are usually delivered around the beginning of each month. If you haven’t heard from us by the end of the first week of the month, check your Spam inbox. If it isn’t there, email Alin. (Sometimes mail failures happen.)

You publication date isn’t set in stone, so please don’t announce it. Publication dates often shift. You are welcome to announce your acceptance, though!

Editing

Submissions rarely arrive in publishable condition. What follows is a brief overview of the editorial process, the different kinds of edits your story may require, and an outline explaining the levels of editing.

Our team prefers a collaborative approach, one where all parties recognize their first loyalty is to the reader. So, for the sake of efficiency, our editors provide thorough notes and suggestions (rather than hinting at what they would like to see from the author, requesting rewrites, hoping they figure it out, and repeating that process ad nauseam).

Our editors use Google Docs and the tracked changes feature. If you aren’t very familiar with word processing software, don’t fret! Our editors are happy to provide guidance and will be available to you whenever you need their assistance.

You will also have the option to schedule a live meeting with Alin to resolve your draft. Writers are not required to make an appointment (especially if the edits are minor), but we much prefer live resolution, as it speeds up the process and results in far more productive collaboration. If you are not familiar with the editing process, or if you haven’t worked with us before, we highly recommend making the appointment.

First Pass

When our editors evaluated your story, before it was marked for acceptance, they performed a developmental analysis. This is a fancy way of saying they evaluated your story from every angle, poked it with a sharp stick, and shook it violently to see what would fall off. During this assessment, our editors concentrated on developmental issues: big picture elements of the story. Plot, character, pacing, action, dialogue, and theme are all dissected during this first read.

Developmental edits address and correct narrative-level problems, like unnecessary characters or scenes. We almost never accept stories that require major developmental edits; you’re more likely to get a rewrite request. Our editors will highlight passages and leave comments in the areas that require your attention. For efficiency’s sake, they may provide suggestions for resolving the issues, but these are merely suggestions meant to spark inspiration. You are welcome to take your own approach, so long as all outstanding issues are satisfactorily resolved.

Mechanical edits are corrections to spelling, capitalization, punctuation, hyphenation, abbreviations, and consistency. We adhere to The Chicago Manual of Style. Also referred to as “CMOS,” Chicago is basically a rulebook we follow to ensure mechanical and grammatical consistency between stories. Indisputable mechanical edits are silent, or untracked, which means they will not be highlighted in any way. Discretionary mechanical edits (like whether to use parenthesis, commas, or em dashes to set off an interjection) will be tracked and will usually have comments explaining the suggestion.

Language edits pertain to grammar, usage, and diction. Our editors use Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage (also referred to as the “DEU”) to ensure that words and phrases form proper, non-awkward English sentences. These edits are tracked and explained in comments.

Stylistic edits are intended to clarify meaning, eliminate redundancy, revise overuse of passive verbs, organize disorganized passages, and polish rough prose. As experienced writing coaches, our editors will point out stylistic issues (inconsistent voice and repetition, for instance) and supply suggested revisions.

Once our editors finalize their first pass, it will be up to you to review the draft and perform refinements. You will turn on “Suggestion” mode, then address each comment and resolve all outstanding issues. Inform the editor when you’re finished.

Second Pass

Next, our editors will incorporate all changes. If there are no new issues to resolve, the story will be passed to our Gatekeepers who will read the “clean” version of the story and note observations of their own. This review system ensures typos and other errors don’t slip by unnoticed (most of the time).

If the Gatekeepers identify new problems or opportunities, those will be noted and sent back to you for review. If the Gatekeepers approve the draft, we move on to the next stage.

Presentation & Design

You may have noticed each story on the site is accompanied by an AI-generated artwork. This image will be used to promote your story on our site and our social platforms and will be selected based on how well it reflects the story’s tone and/or imagery. You’re welcome to participate in this process and submit prompts for us to use, however, we ultimately must choose the art most likely to inspire clicks.

Final Pass

Alin will create the story page on the site and do a final read. Once complete, your story will be scheduled. You will receive payment via Paypal, and a copy of the text will be emailed to you. We encourage you to give the story one final review before the publication date.

Levels of Editing

When determining how much and what kind of editing a given project requires, our editors generally weigh the quality of the author’s writing and the expectations of our readers. They estimate how much time will need to be invested in the story before it will be publication-ready. This determination impacts the scheduling of your story.

Light Editing: Almost entirely mechanical edits, plus perhaps a few minor stylistic and/or language edits. Writers can expect their story to be processed and prepared for publication very quickly. (The majority of the stories we accept fall into this category.)

Medium Editing: Mechanical plus some developmental and/or stylistic edits. Writers can expect two to three rounds of edits. (A fair number of the stories we accept fall into this category.)

Heavy Editing: Substantive mechanical, developmental, and stylistic edits that will require a considerable deal of time and collaboration. Our editors almost never accept submissions that require this level of work but are willing to invest the time when a story seems worth the effort and the writer seems eager to participate in the process. Stories that heavily rely on passive construction (“telling” instead of “showing”) or contain a lot of unnecessary passages will automatically fall into this category.

How many rounds of edits the story requires will depend on the length of the story and how quickly you respond to queries and suggestions.

Payment

Once your story has been scheduled for publication, payment will be made in full via Paypal to the account you specified when you signed our Publishing Agreement. As a matter of strict company policy, we do not use other third-party payment platforms (Venmo, Wave, Square, etc.).

From the Editor

Congrats on your acceptance! I hope you found this page to be informative.

In an ideal world, all writers would have ample time and resources to rigorously study and perfect their craft. As a mother of five, I understand better than most that we do not live in an ideal world. If you are haven’t studied grammar since high school, taken a single course on writing, been part of a critique group, or attended a workshop—don’t sweat it. We’re here for you.

Although we’re a very small, volunteer-run publication, we strive to be as available and communicative as possible. We particularly love helping new writers navigate the publishing process. If you have any questions at all, you are welcome to email me. Congrats again!

ALIN

Executive Editor

Under her fiction-focused pen name (Alin Walker), Tina Alberino serves as The Dread Machine's HBIC. When she's not toiling in service of the Machine, Tina works as an editorial project manager and writing coach at Strikethrough Editing. Follow her on Tumblr @allhailalin.

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