Hey, SE Readers. Joan with you today. In my last post, I talked about the advantages of writing short stories and how they could be stand-alone works or part of a collection. Today, I want to talk about anthologies.

What’s the difference? Dictionary (dot) com defines an anthology as this:

  1. A book or other collection of selected writings by various authors, usually in the same literary form, of the same period, or on the same subject: an anthology of Elizabethan drama; an anthology of modern philosophy.
  2. A collection of selected writings by one author.

My post today deals with the first definition. Participating with a group of authors in an anthology is another great way to build your backlist and attract new readers. I’ve been fortunate to have been included in four such collections.

If you participate in an anthology, here are a few tips.

  • Decide on a central theme or genre. One of the anthologies I was included in had the theme of time travel. Instead of a theme, the collection could be in the genre of romance, science fiction, fantasy, etc.
  • Another idea is to choose a specific setting. Years ago, I read a series of four books. The main setting was an older two-story house that had been converted into four apartments. Someone was found murdered. Each book was written by a different author, and each writer focused on a different lead character’s point of view. While these were separate books and not an anthology, a similar idea could be incorporated into a collection.
  • Determine if the book will be listed for free, or if there will be a charge. If it’s the latter, decide on how the royalties will be divided. Many times the publisher (or the author initiating the idea) will pay each participant a one-time payment. Any royalties go to the initiating author, as they bear the expense of editing, formatting, cover design, etc.
  • Recognize that all authors may not have the same writing skills. Some can be seasoned writers, others new to the world of publishing. If the idea of being included with previously unpublished authors doesn’t appeal to you, you might want to reconsider. (Remember every author was once unpublished.)
  • Anthologies are a great way for new writers to break into the publishing world. I’d recommend searching writing publications, either in print or online, for possibilities. Chicken Soup for The Soul, a non-fiction series, has helped many become published authors.
  • Know the word count and stick to the guidelines. If the maximum length is 10,000 words, don’t send a 12,000-word story to the publisher. By the same token, make certain you’ve met the minimum word count.

Anthologies are fun to read and fun to write. If you’ve participated in an anthology, what are some pros and cons you discovered? What other tips would you offer? Please share in the comments.

80 thoughts on “Anthologies

  1. I love submitting to anthologies and have had one story published that way. I wish there was a master list of calls for submissions to anthologies. I search periodically, but finding them is a haphazard process.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. HI Joan, I like being part of anthologies. I didn’t know what they were when I first started blogging. I’d never heard the term anthology used. It was a challenge to enter a story for an anthology that inspired me to write my first short paranormal story for adults. That was The Willow Tree which appeared in Dark Visions compiled by Dan Alatorre in 2018. He gave me encouragement and advice when I submitted my first story and I wrote another, The Haunting of William, for inclusion in the same anthology. Since then I have had short stories included in 10 short story anthologies and 2 poetry anthologies. I love meeting other authors, getting exposure to new readerships and just being part of a group project. I will be in two more short story anthologies this year. I am also putting together a collection of my own short stories because I think they are very popular with readers.

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. These sound like lots of fun, Joan. I’ve had my work published in a couple of poetry anthologies, but I haven’t submitted to a prose anthology. I love the different ways you described the way the stories are tied together. My muse’s ears couldn’t help but perk up. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoy anthologies both as a reader and a writer, and have been fortunate to have participated in several. I would definitely contribute to an anthology again if the opportunity arose. I’ve also found some great authors through reading their stories in anthologies.
    Last year, I published my own collection of shorts. It was a great experience crafting shorter fiction for a change. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a great share, Joan! Thank you!! I, for one, love anthologies! I enjoy a single-author anthology, but there’s something special about one that includes a variety of writers. You’re often introduced to ones you’ve not heard of. And it’s interesting to see different people’s take on themes or genres. You’ve shared some great tips too!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you for mentioning that every writer was once an unpublished writer. I am new to short story writing and was thrilled to have one of my stories included in our city’s Decameron Project, an anthology of fiction and non-fiction pieces inspired by the current pandemic. The idea for the anthology was based on the original Decameron Project created when the Black Death overtook Florence in the 1300s. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to see my story – and name – in print.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Great post, Joan 🙂 I have participated in a couple of anthologies and would do it again, if the right one. I do enjoy reading them and finding new authors. I wondered how royalities were handled there was no payment for participating in the ones I’ve been in but exposure.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It all depends. Most of the ones I’ve participated in have been free. A was included in a non-fiction book several years ago and each contributor was paid an up-front fee. I believe (but I’m not certain) that Amazon now has a way for publishers to know how to divide the royalties. Not sure where I heard that, so don’t take it as gospel.


  9. I’ve participated in a couple of anthologies, and I would definitely participate in more if given the opportunity. I think it’s a wonderful way to reach new readers. I’ve slowly warmed up to reading short stories. I used to hate them because I love losing myself for hours and hours in a character’s world, but with such little time to read, short stories have been great. Like others have said, an anthology allows you to try a new author without spending too much while also getting treats from authors you already love. So, it’s a win-win! Great post, Joan! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I’ve participated in a few anthologies, usually for charities which saves a lot of working out royalties and such.
    I definitely agree with having a theme. My personal favourite of the ones I’ve been in is the Dreamtime Dragons and Fatal Femmes Anthology, which was themed with strong women protagonists. My story in that one inspired me to write a full novel with the same characters.

    I hadn’t thought of using a common setting, although there is precedent in one of my favourite books, Thieves World edited by Robert Aspirin. That one was all known Fantasy authors contributing to a shared world and the first book worked out great and was followed by several sequels!

    I also suggest for anyone wanting to organise an anthology to work with writers you’ve read, known or unknown. It’s difficult when you get a story from someone you know and like and find it’s unpublishable or needs severe editing. It can be a headache job.

    I do read anthologies and enjoy having short stores to read between novels or just when I want to fill a small time window. It’s great to see the creativity people bring to various themes.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I’ve had short stories in horror and mystery anthologies, and it’s fun being in a collection with other authors. Sometimes I got paid and sometimes I just did it because I liked the idea. Barnes and Noble used to put out anthologies, and those did well, but many times, anthologies struggle to find a bigger audience. Short was popular when I first started writing, then almost disappeared, but now I think it’s making a comeback. I’m happy, because I love short fiction.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. This was hugely informative, Joan! I can see the benefits of collaborating with others but hadn’t given a thought to ‘rights’ nor that Amazon could start to charge for something that was supposed to be free. I’ve read more poetry and short stories recently – partly because my attention span has declined since Covid struck. I think anthologies would be another excellent source of reading material now. (I’ve just finished House of Sorrows – loved it!)

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think a lot of people’s attention spans are shorter these days. Amazon can be a pain, but where would we be without them? Fortunately, they’ve always corrected the errors – at least that’s my experience.

      I’m glad you enjoyed House of Sorrows. I loved writing it because of the 1960s elements.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I have been in several anthologies. I enjoy doing them. It gives me a chance to work with some amazing authors, and to write in genres other than my normal. Reading short stories is my favorite. They give the reader a chance to read an entire story at one sitting.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I love the concept of anthologies. It’s such a great way for readers to discover new authors and a great way for authors to find new readers. 🙂 I have had many short stories published in anthologies and would do it again. Last year a group of authors published an anthology of mixed genres of stories based on a single photo. That was awesome and worked really well as there was something for everyone. Thanks for sharing, Joan!

    Liked by 5 people

  15. I’ve had the pleasure of being included in one anthology with the theme of time travel – one of my favorite topics! I enjoy reading anthologies (I’m reading one now) and while I may not enjoy all the stories, I always come away with some new authors to look into.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I love the concept of time travel. So intriguing. You’ve made another good point about anthologies. If there are stories we don’t care for, we can skip to the next one. And as you say, it’s a great place to be introduced to new authors.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. A super post, Joan. Early in my writing journey, I was interested in anthologies. I love writing short stories and most sit in a file for the day when I can get them organized into a collection. Your post gets that old feeling back again. Maybe I’ll get something together. 😁

    Liked by 3 people

    • I agree, Craig. Great for lunchtime or reading before bed in the evenings. I’ve read micro-fiction. Haven’t had the courage to try it. (I tend to write long.) I enjoyed those anthologies we participated in.

      Liked by 3 people

  17. I had a short story included in an anthology once. I also have my book, Chronicles of Riss, that is just a bunch of short story “adventures” of the main character, Riss Cobalt. I’m not sure if it would be considered an anthology or not, though.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. These last years, I’ve been drawn to anthologies or collections of stories. They seem to fit my busy day and offer choices that fit my mood at the time. Thank you for the excellent post, Joan.

    Liked by 4 people

  19. I am a short fiction author and will be bringing out my fifth collection this fall. Over the years I have come to think of my collections as the primary market for my work, so that colors how I see calls for short fiction submissions.

    In the first place, quick reversion of rights is imperative. If a magazine or anthology pays pro rates I will accept up to a year exclusivity, but in general I will grant first publication only and expect to be able to reprint right away.

    I don’t count on royalties. They are a nice bonus when I get them, but most anthologies don’t sell well and once the pie is split between all the authors involved there’s not much to go around. This doesn’t bother me, since as I said I intend to publish any story I write at least twice.

    I look to short fiction calls for submissions for two things, then–marketing and inspiration. Every time one of my stories is published in a new market I am exposed to new readers, some of whom may enjoy my story enough to check out my other work. (And publishers of short fiction, as a rule, are very generous about allowing authors to include links and pointers in the introductory text.)

    And often the theme of an anthology will get my mind running along new channels. Two anthologies that I can think of (one with the theme of “Pizza Horror” and the other for stories set after the extinction of the human race) inspired stories that ended up being rejected by the editors of the anthology, but I ended up selling to other markets.

    First publication also provides editing. Granted, the quality is spotty, but usually if I have a corrected proof of the first publication of a story saved I use that when putting together my own collection and it saves time. (No publisher I’ve worked with has ever claimed that they own the corrections they’ve made to one of my stories or complained that I used their version as a reprint.)

    This having been said, I am selective in the markets where I submit. Once you start looking and develop a word of market network, there are plenty of calls of submissions to choose from. I always look at the guidelines in two ways–can I write to fit these guidelines, and would a story that fits these guidelines also fit into my next collection?

    There is an underserved market for short fiction. Traditional publishers pushed novels for a number of reasons, but the Indies are discovering readers who want a quick, exciting story they can read on a lunch hour or before bed. I see a lot of authors who are locked into the mentality that “real writing” means novels and are asking for help in fleshing out or expanding a story to a certain word count, when often the solution is to cut it down rather than pad it out.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. I’ve been in five anthologies over the years. As a writer, it’s nice to participate because I get my work in front of new readers (fans of the other authors). As a reader, I like them because I can test out a group of new-to-me authors in a low-price/low-risk way.

    Great post, Joan.

    Liked by 4 people

  21. I’ve been included in a few different anthologies. One thing I didn’t like was one publisher initially setting the books on free, but later, moving them to paid with no royalties or payments at all to the contributing authors.
    Another good thing to check is copyright and whether or not the contributing author keeps the rights to their work.

    Great post with excellent points. Thanks for sharing, Joan 💕🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • My sister has put a few anthologies together. Even though she sets them as free, Amazon periodically changes the price on them. (They don’t like permafree works.) When she discovers that prices have been changed, she has to go through an Amazon CSR to get them to drop the price to zero again. I hope that’s the case with the anthologies you’ve been involved with. I’d hate to think there’s a publisher out there who does that deliberately.

      Liked by 4 people

      • It’s the bane of her existence. It happens most often on Quantum Wanderlust, but I believe (stressing that word because I’m not 100% certain) it’s happened on all of them at one point.

        I think they do it because they don’t make money off free work. And it’s a terrible policy that they can do so without consent.

        Liked by 3 people

    • Amazon has been known to change the price of free books without warning the author or publisher. I’ve had that happen to a single title of mine which is supposed to be perma-free. They think they’re gods and do what they want.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Since we published the anthologies, I have had them several times revert from free to $.99. Luckily, when this happens, if I miss it, someone brings it to my attention so that I can go through the process to make the anthology free again, which takes days for Amazon to correct. It’s a battle on many fronts. Because I don’t normally see the Amazon pages outside of the USA, I don’t always see the price change. At times, they have made the UK site a charge and left the USA site as free. If you see that happening, you should contact the publisher. Chances are they don’t know that it is happening.

      Liked by 3 people

    • So far, my perma-free book has always been listed as free. One thing I think helps it stay that way is that I have it listed as free on Smashwords. I believe (like Staci said…not 100% sure) that Amazon checks other sources, and if no one else has it free, they can choose to change the price. If it’s listed free elsewhere, they will stay competitive to keep customers on their site. Just a thought…

      Liked by 2 people

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