Anthologies – Do they help or hurt?

I’ve noticed that various authors have their own opinions on anthologies. Some say there is no value to having your story in a book that most likely will never get read or reviewed. Or worse, it will get read and reviewed and the overall quality is shit so it gets a bad review.

I’m going to tell you why I’m in anthos and A LOT of them.

#1 – Advertising:

Personally, I see anthologies as advertising tools. In my mind, people who may never read my writing, will get exposed to me. Maybe this sounds odd, but even if just the people who are in the antho read the book, they’ll read something by someone new — happens to me all the time. If they’re impressed enough with your work, they’ll seek you out — again, happens to me all the time! I can’t tell you how many new friends/followers I’ve gotten on Facebook/Twitter who say they love my work they’ve read in an antho and want to know where they can find more.

Another way I see anthos as free advertisers is that your name will possibly/can be added when the book is listed on places like Amazon. Having a book with your name associated with it allows you to start an author page through Author Central. You can share the link and start building on for later!

People often give me shit for being in anthos where I don’t get paid, but I think I do get paid…with advertising! Here’s how: 1) Someone other than just me will be promoting the book, whether it’s the press or the other writers included; and 2) The family members of the people in the book (especially for someone’s firstpublication) will be sharing and showing the books around. = MORE READERS!

Besides the more readers uptake, I see it as renting out my story, since I get most of my rights back within 6 months to a year (depending on the contracts). After that time I can sell them as reprints, publish them as freebies on my blog, or expand them and make novellas and/or novels. No story of mine is going to go to waste while I’m still at the keyboard.

So, to me, anthos equal free advertising, fan base builders, and story temp homes.

Oh! They’re also great if you want to promote a larger work! You can write stories for anthos, put the titles you’ve written (novellas/novels) in your bio, and if people like your story it could lead to more sales!

#2 – Press Relations:

Another good thing about having your short stories accepted into anthos is that you can feel out the presses. There are a lot of them out there and you never know when you might get burned by one. You don’t want to give your novel to a press that’s going to be crooked with you, or you just aren’t going to get along with, are you?! No!

When you submit to an antho, you get a feel for the presses submission preferences and guidelines; you also get an idea of their response time, etc. If your story is accepted, you’ll then become familiar with how they handle their “business.”

Do they use contracts? What kind of rights do they ask for? Are you comfortable with their editing and communication along the way? Do you REALLY want to work with them?

You can benefit so much by feeling out a press by submitting to an anthology.

If things go well, you can build a relationship with a press, their editors, and/or owners by submitting multiple times (to multiple anthologies). In the long run, this could open doors for you for opportunities, such as editing or submitting a larger work (novella/novel).

#3 – Responsibility (representing yourself):

Not only does submitting to anthologies get you advertising and good press relations, it gets you familiar with the publishing process over all: submitting; acceptances/rejection; editing; contracts; the dreaded ‘wait’; and (very importantly) your professional attitude with all of it.

You represent you.

You need to conduct yourself with professionalism or no one will want to work with you. Submitting gives you practice at this whether you’re accepted or not.

You are responsible for deadlines, handling the editing process without having a full on hissy fit, etc! Would you want to work with someone who made every step of the process complicated, or held up the project because they were always late? Nope!

Don’t expect to be treated as a professional unless you act like one.

#4 – Writing:

You’re probably thinking, “Duh! Writing! Isn’t that what we’re talking about?” The answer is yes. But anthologies have a way of inspiring you to write more! You read the calls and get sparks of ideas. If you get good at hammering out short stories, you’ll find that you’re writing more.

This is important for every writer. Writing a lot = practice. Practice makes perfect, right? When you practice writing you tend to learn what you’re doing wrong and correct it, or you’ll find that your style/voice matures. This is a very, very good thing.

#5 – Deadlines:

I know I mentioned deadlines in the area of professionalism — I’m going to reiterate because it’s that important.

Deadlines are part of the business. Deadlines are important.

If an editor/press gives you a deadline to meet, do it! They are there for a reason. Writing for anthologies give you practice at writing for deadlines. You know you have to have your story written and sent in by a certain time, or OOPS! you’ve missed your chance. You can benefit from the experience of racing time, balancing life, and still accomplishing your writing goals.

Overall, I think anthologies can be used in a positive way! Don’t get me wrong, there are some negatives that go along with it… Like the reviewing and low book sales, etc. But, if you use anthologies for practice, experience, advertising, and to get to know various presses you’ll be building a fan base and networking at the same time.

At the end of the day it depends on the individual and their overall goals. Anthologies aren’t for everyone, so don’t feel bad if you just don’t like them and don’t want to submit — that’s okay too.

I hope I’ve at least made you think about how being part of an anthology can help you along the way with your writing journey.

 

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©Rebecca Besser, 2012. All rights reserved.

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