I’ve been on both sides of the anthology fence—having had stories published in several anthologies from Firestorm of Dragons to The Zombie Cookbook—as well as having edited three anthologies, the latest of which is Infinite Space, Infinite God II. (www.isigsf.com). I enjoy anthologies for a number of reasons—I like having my stories in a book, I like reading anthologies myself, and they are a lot of fun. However, they are a competitive market, just like all writing markets these days. Here are some things I’ve learned from being on both sides of the fence that can help you get in.
#1 Network: Join some writers groups that are tied to your genre or interest. Most of the anthologies I’ve been in, I’ve heard about from Yahoo groups or The Writers Chat Room. It’s also been an aid, since the editors are usually members of the groups, too. Duotrope.com and ralan.com also list calls for submissions, so check them out regularly.
#2 Read the Guidelines. You’d think this would be obvious, but it isn’t. I see editors complain about it, and as an editor, I’ve tossed out stories after the first paragraph because the writer sent me a fantasy for an SF anthology. Sorry, guidelines are there for a reason.
#3 Understand the SPIRIT of the anthology. Anthologies are not like magazines, that can take a wide range of stories. They usually have a specific theme or purpose. If you do not address that theme or style, it does not matter how good your story is. A bad fit is a bad fit. Here’s a good example for ISIG II: We stated that our intention in the anthology is to show the positive portrayal of the Catholic faith and science, and of them interacting in concert. Naturally, non-Catholic Christian stories didn’t fit. But even worse was the story that started out painting priests as evil and the Church as uncaring. Now, I’m not going to argue anyone’s personal beliefs here, but how in the world is that the POSITIVE?
#4 Be ready to accept some editorial direction. Editors are interested in making the stories the best they can be. Editors of anthologies need to think not only of the story but how the story fits the whole. That may mean some changes—in length, in prose, in style. Obviously, you don’t want to change your entire story into something unrecognizable, but do consider accepting direction—or losing your chance at the anthology. In ISIG II, for example, we wanted the portrayal of the Catholic Church to adhere to Catholic teachings and beliefs, and had to ask for some changes in order to do that. We were blessed with professional authors who were glad to do it.
#5 Regardless of how you’re paid for the anthology help promote it. Unlike a magazine, anthologies do not have a set audience. Like books, they need promoting. You’d think that an anthology would have a whole team behind it, but in reality, usually only the editors and one or two interested authors are doing the grunt work. It doesn’t to take much—mention it on Facebook, post the summary and link on your website, send out a press release, and ask folks to review it. Work with your editor. I can tell you from both sides of the editing fence, it’s much appreciated.
Anthologies are a lot of fun—and they are a lot of work. It’s a great opportunity for promoting yourself, reaching other audiences, and hooking your star to other great writers. Take advantage of the opportunities they present.
Karina's work on Kindle is available for these special prices for the dates specified: Infinite Space, Infinite God: $.99 April 9-13; $2.99 April 14-23. Infinite Space, Infinite God II: $2.99 now through April 23. Better hop on these deals. You'll be glad that you did!