Last updated 28th September 2019
Yes, there are repeated items in these guidelines. That’s because we know nobody reads them thoroughly.
Details vary a little between guidelines for Underdog Anthology short stories and those for whole books. This section deals with general, but still very important, matters which apply to both forms. Please read it all very carefully before deciding whether to send in your work.
First of all, every author is searching for the answer to the question ‘Do I have to pay anything to be published by Leg Iron Books?’- so let’s deal with that first.
Leg Iron Books does not charge authors anything, at any point, ever. We make money from book sales. If there are no sales, the author is not responsible. We take all the risk on investment. That’s why we will edit your book/story to make it the best it can be. If it doesn’t sell, Leg Iron Books takes the hit. The author is not liable for any losses incurred.
Short stories for the Underdog Anthologies are paid up front. Currently this is £12 per story or the equivalent in copies of the book (normally two copies, sometimes three if it’s a slim volume). Overseas authors are better off taking the money and ordering a copy locally – postage from the UK will cost you at least one book!
Novels, short story collections from single authors, nonfiction books etc. are paid on the basis of royalties earned. These are unlikely to be substantial for at least the near future but every sale is guaranteed to get the author something. For print books, profit margins are small because print costs are high but many people still seem to prefer print over eBook so it is important to have that option available.
Ebook profits are much better, even though their prices are much lower, since there are no print or postage costs to cover.
The current split for royalties is 70/30 in favour of the author. As sales improve, we will cut the Leg Iron Books share further. It is therefore in the authors’ interests to promote their own books and not leave it all up to the publisher. The bigger the sales, the bigger your cut of the profits.
What do we accept?
Almost anything as long as it is well written and can, with editing, be made into a sellable book. We have no restrictions on genre, fiction/nonfiction, writing style, subject matter, apart from a few rules.
No porn. Erotica, or stories with sex in them are okay. If the sex is the story, it’s porn.
No violent rape stories. That’s just nasty.
No child abuse stories. We will consider revenge stories where the one taking revenge was abused in the past, but no details.
No fan fiction. That’s where you write a story using characters from other books, films or TV. Those characters are copyrighted by other people and we can’t afford to get sued.
True stories are okay as long as the people in them can’t be identified. We are not looking for lawsuits. We prefer ‘based on a true story’ so fictionalise it to the max. Change every name and location and add a few embellishments.
No glorification or politically correct subliminal messaging about antismoking, antidrinking, anti-any-lifestyle choice. Leg Iron Books does not pander to Puritans.
Politics. Leg Iron Books does not take any sides in any form of politics and we encourage authors to take a similar stance. It’s not compulsory, of course, but we have observed many authors, including some famous ones, alienate half of their audience by taking a side and being very vocal about it on social media. It’s fine to have political beliefs, we all have them, but they are best not heavily linked to your writing business.
Also on politics – avoid topical stories that are going to make someone reading them ten years from now say ‘Huh?’ Subjects that are really hot right now will fade on the news cycle along with everything else. Try to stay time-independent. Political subjects are fine, but if you read a story about Edwina Currie and Salmonella in eggs now, how many would have to hunt down what it referred to? More to the point, how many would bother?
This list might be added to in the future, if we receive something so horrible in nature we hadn’t already thought of it.
Currently we will not consider multi-author anthologies because sales of those amount to pennies per month and we will not spend a lot of time calculating fractional pennies per author. If you have a short story, you are welcome to submit it to an Underdog Anthology but if you want to make something similar, you are free to do it yourself. Alternatively, you can agree to have one contact point who receives the pennies and who accepts responsibility for working out how many slices to cut those pennies into. Either way, we’re not going to divvy up royalties from one book among a dozen authors. We will also not take responsibility if one of your authors feels they are getting shafted.
What happens to copyright?
Copyright remains, always, with the author. Leg Iron Books contracts cover publishing rights, not copyright. That is always yours. You can, if you wish, register copyright with one of the institutions set up to do that but you don’t really need to.
‘Rights’ are as follows:
If you have a short story for the Underdog Anthologies, you are not selling us the story, you are selling us permission to put it in that one book. Once. Leg Iron Books will not have the right to republish your story in anything other than that one book and in the omnibus edition at the end of the year (does not apply to contracts before January 2019).
The author can republish those short stories anywhere they like after the book is out. We would rather you wait until the book is out before doing that, but realistically Leg Iron Books does not have the time or resources to check. It’s on trust.
Leg Iron Books does not own the stories we pay for. The authors own them. We just own the book containing them. To reiterate, you are not selling the story. That remains yours. You are selling the right to put it in one anthology. After publication, you are free to use it again in any way you choose.
Novel/nonfiction copyright also remains with the author but the contract requires an exclusive publishing deal for a period of five years. If, at the end of that time, you think the book will do better with another publisher, it’s still your book. You can sign up again at Leg Iron Books or move on. If a big publisher wants to buy out your contract part way through, we will not put any obstacles in the way. Getting small authors into the big time is our purpose.
This is a lot less complicated than it appears. There are different levels of author rights and publisher rights and the only ones that matter here are first or reprint rights:
First rights. Also known as first publication rights. That’s where you send in a new story that has never been published before. Its first ever appearance will be in an Underdog Anthology.
Reprint rights. In this case, it’s a story that has been published before but you still have copyright and have not foolishly signed away the right to sell it again. Putting it on the internet counts as published, putting it through a critique group that is not accessible to non-members isn’t publication. It’s fine to get the likes of CritiqueCircle.com to look it over for you.
Those are really the only ones that matter here. Film and other rights are the author’s business. If someone wants to make a film out of a story they work directly with the author. Leg Iron Books will not be involved at all.
Can I use my ‘About the Author’ section to advertise work published elsewhere?
This is absolutely encouraged in both the anthologies and in all other books. If you want to have an ‘About the Author’ page where you plug your other books, stories, website, blog, your eBay sideline in selling interestingly shaped rocks from Peru or anything at all, that would be fine and dandy. Try to keep it to one page, please. Don’t make it longer than the story!
You can even include a photo if you like, but only in monochrome. Adding a single colour page into a book will put up the price of the book by silly amounts. We can turn colour pictures into monochrome for you and it doesn’t have to be a picture of your face. It just has to be at least 310 dpi, or large enough that scaling it to that resolution won’t make it vanish.
Just keep it clean, okay?
Leg Iron Books can accept submissions in Microsoft Word, OpenOffice or as RTF. We can’t do anything with a PDF file other than read it. Don’t send those.
We publish in Times New Roman font, usually 12 pitch but sometimes 11 pitch if it’s a big book, to cut down on page numbers and therefore cost. If you want a version in large print, we can do that too. If your story absolutely requires the use of different fonts, we can handle that but please let us know which fonts you use. Also remember that eBook readers can change the fonts.
Send your story without embellishments please. No ‘sections’, no fancy borders, no style settings. If we don’t get those codes out entirely it will seriously mess up the eBook versions.
Do not use tabs or spaces to indent. Use an extra blank line between paragraphs or set the indent using the ‘paragraph’ settings. Taking out all the tabs and spaces is a real pain in the arse.
Keep paragraphs short. These days, people read books on small screen devices and if you have a block of text that goes on for screen after screen you really will put off readers.
Basically, where formatting is concerned, keep it simple. We will convert it to Leg Iron Books format for you. If you have any special requirements for how you want it formatted, say so. If we can, we will accommodate you. There are technical restrictions, especially for eBooks, but we will try.
These are general guidelines, subject to revision. Be sure to read the ‘Anthology’ or ‘Books’ guidelines also, as appropriate.