The Speculative Literature Foundation

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)


General


1. What is the SLF, why does it exist?

The Speculative Literature Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting literary quality in speculative fiction. We plan to accomplish that goal by encouraging promising new writers, assisting established writers, facilitating the work of quality magazines and small presses in the genre, and developing a greater public appreciation of speculative fiction.

The Foundation was created to fill a perceived lack in the field -- while there are strong genre organizations working to serve the needs of writers, there was no overarching genre arts foundation working to bring together the energies of writers, editors, readers, and academics. As well, most genre writers are unaware of the many award and grant opportunities available to mainstream and literary authors; we hope that we can both facilitate awareness of such opportunities, and create new opportunities which cater specifically to the needs and concerns of the speculative literature field.



2. What is speculative literature anyway?

Speculative literature is a catch-all term meant to inclusively span the breadth of fantastic literature, encompassing literature ranging from hard science fiction to epic fantasy to ghost stories to horror to folk and fairy tales to slipstream to magical realism to modern myth-making -- and more. Any piece of literature containing a fabulist or speculative element would fall under our aegis, and would potentially be work that we would be interested in supporting.



3. How can I help support the SLF?

You can help support us in three ways: with donations, as a volunteer, or by helping to spread the word. In more detail:

  1. We're also always in need of volunteer staff, who would provide invaluable support in such areas as administrating grants and awards, developing web content, creating outreach materials and much more. For more details on how you can volunteer, please visit our Staff page.
  2. Publicity is an essential component for growth -- if you can help spread the word by mentioning us in any online forums or blogs you may participate in, by telling your friends, family, book groups about us, by copying and distributing our flyers at any conventions you may attend or bookstores you may frequent, that would be a tremendous help. To download online banners and/or print flyers, please visit our Media Kit page.

4. What's the geographical scope of SLF?

We are a global organization.



5. Does the SLF support work in languages other than English?

While we currently only have the resources to address English-language (or in English translation) material, we're reserving the right to expand our scope in the future.



6. Is SLF political in any way?

The SLF is political in the sense that our chief purpose is to raise the profile of speculative literature in as many ways as possible. We are a literary support organization; our interest is in assisting the production of excellent literature from the widest possible range of writers. Among other efforts we hope to encourage an increased participation of women, people of color, gays / lesbians / bisexuals / transgender, and other historically under-represented writers in the genre.



7. I have a link I want to add, or a correction to send in -- whom should I contact?

Please send link suggestions to Jennifer Dawson at webcoord@speclit.org. We appreciate an annotation accompanying each link suggestion; approximately 30 words, suitable for the web, would be appropriate.

Please send corrections to webmasters Gregory Banks and Kaolin Fire at webmaster@speclit.org.

Thank you!



8. Can everyone use the forums; do you have to be a member?

The general forums are intended to facilitate wide public discussion of the genre; you do not need to be a paid member to participate. But please remember that if you would like to join the SLF as a member and do not feel that you can currently afford the fees, we do offer sliding scale need-based membership.

The SLF small press co-op forum discussions are restricted to co-op members; membership in the co-op is currently free, and does not require that you be a general SLF paid member. Please see our small press co-op page here for more information and to apply.



Academics


1. Does SLF support scholarly research?

On the Foundation web pages, we currently provide a reference list of institutions and academic organizations, and welcome further additions to that list. We also provide some sample syllabi for those teaching speculative fiction (in literary, creative, and linguistic areas), and hope that those materials may encourage other academics to consider teaching such classes. Finally, we have provided a forum section devoted to academics, appropriate for posting calls-for-papers, conference announcements, and for starting discussions of relevant topics.

We would be pleased, long-term, to further assist academics in their research. If you have suggestions for such programs, we welcome them! Send suggestions to Mary Anne Mohanraj, at director@speclit.org.



Writers


1. Does SLF have a publishing program?

We do not currently have a publishing program; we are more interested at the moment in partnering with and supporting the endeavors of the many fine publishers in the field, both large and small. It is possible that at some point in the future, the Foundation may publish some materials, but that is not a current organizational priority.



2. Does SLF provide assistance to needy authors?

We have no current plans to provide need-based aid, though we certainly are not ruling out that possibility for the future; if we did provide such aid, it would likely be short-term and available only for emergency use. What we do plan to offer (hopefully by the end of our second year of operation) are small merit-based grants for writers in various genres (such as fiction, poetry, etc.) and/or cultural groups (i.e., age-based, gender-based, ethnicity-based, etc).



3. Will SLF help writers find agents?

We have no current plans to partner with agents, but we will entertain proposals of how that might be productively done; send any such suggestions to Mary Anne Mohanraj, at director@speclit.org. In the meantime, we'll be happy to provide links to data on agents as our website continues to be updated, and we encourage you to utilize our forum as a resource for discussions on this topic.



4. Will the SLF offer a mentorship program, matching up new writers, editors, publishers with more experienced folk?

We are pleased to tell you that a mentorship program for writers is currently under development; we will post public announcements when it is ready and available. We suggest that editors and publishers avail themselves of our small press co-op for information exchange.


Staff


1. What are the committees and staff positions available?

Volunteers may serve on the following committees:

  • Management (helping to oversee the Foundation's direction and decisions)
  • Membership (assisting in tracking membership and providing member services)
  • Newsletter (editing our monthly newsletter)
  • Web Content (adding new material to the website monthly)
  • Development (fund-raising through membership growth and grant applications)
  • Grants and Awards (shaping and administering our grants and awards)
  • Outreach (developing materials for outreach to schools, libraries, etc.)
  • Small Press Co-operative (developing projects of use to the co-op)
  • Small Press Forum Moderators (monitoring and assisting our private forum)



2. How much of a time commitment will each position require?

The time commitment varies widely, but generally requires approximately 5-10 hours per month, primarily for reading and responding to Foundation e-mail. We strongly recommend that staff members be comfortable with e-mail and able to read and respond daily (or close to that), as sometimes decisions are made fairly quickly.



3. What other type of resources are needed?

Academics are welcome to serve on our Academic Advisory Board; we may consult with you periodically to help determine how we may best serve the academic spec fic community.

We're always happy to have people come help us out at conventions; we're likely to have parties and/or dealer's room tables at major conventions in the next few years (WisCon, WorldCon and World Fantasy annually, others as convenient).

You can also help spread the word by posting our banner on your site, or printing and distributing flyers at local conventions, bookstores, etc.



4. Who is eligible to be a staff member?

Anyone may join -- all are welcome!



5. Are staff members eligible for SLF awards?

Unfortunately, no -- general staff members are ineligible while they are on staff; management staff members are ineligible while they are on staff plus one year after they leave the SLF, and our director is ineligible while on staff, plus five years after leaving SLF, to avoid conflict-of-interest issues. Affiliated publications are eligible, provided that the individual involved in both organizations recuse themselves from any Foundation discussion of the relevant material.

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