Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ten Tips for Writing for Anthologies

Ten Tips for Writing for Anthologies
By Karina Fabian and Kim Richards
From the Home Office of The Zombie Cookbook,

1. Read the Guidelines! Study the Guidelines! Love the Guidelines! BE the Guidelines! Anthologies are often very specific in theme, scope and word count. The closer you get to meeting their needs, the more likely you will be accepted. For example, for The Zombie Cookbook, ( ), Damnation Books ( ) wanted anything to do with cooking zombies or cooking and zombies. This meant any zombie story which didn't involve cooking or food in some way, was rejected based upon that.

2. From Kim: "The best advice I ever got for writing for an anthology was this: jot down ten story ideas and then write number eleven. The reason being the first ten will get you through all the stereotypes and overdone ideas. By the time you get to eleven, you're opening up to new ideas and creativity. Unique is a plus."

3. From Karina: Know who you are writing for! I had some folks send me a story for the Catholic sci-fi, Infinite Space, Infinite God II that started with a diatribe about how priests abuse kids. I never got to the story before tossing it. It should have been clear to anyone who'd looked at the website that we support the Catholic Church. (Incidentally, ISIG I ( ) did have a story that treated the topic with realism but also with perspective. It was accepted.)

4. Don't wait until the last minute to submit something, especially if you're writing it specifically to submit to this anthology.

5. As with any manuscript, you want to send out your best. For stories written just for the anthology, the temptation is to rush through it to meet the deadline. It still needs to grow through the revision and editing process. Send it through your critique group and revise. Anthologies have only a few slots to fill and will have a lot of stories wanting in. Your piece needs to be at its strongest to stand out above the crowd.

6. There're two schools of thought about submitting to anthologies: the first is to write your stories and should an anthology open up where one you have saved on the hard drive fits in, then submit it. The other is to write a story just for that anthology. Both have positives and negatives. For saved stories, there's a temptation to just send off what you have without giving it a good editing first. Too many authors will send stories they can't sell to anthologies and then get upset when it doesn't sell to the anthology either. They aren't a dumping ground for your weak stuff. Maybe there's a reason it hasn't sold before now. It also might not actually fit the theme they're looking for. Look hard at your story and be sure. A little tweaking can't hurt.

7. If you're going to write for an anthology, especially one that pays a portion of the royalties, be willing to do some marketing if you're accepted. Go on a virtual book tour, send out some press releases, tell all your social groups. You're helping yourself and the other contributors--and you'll make yourself shine in the eyes of the publisher.

8. Anthologies need editing, too. Work with the editor. Also be sure to give the editor the other info you need--like your bio--by deadline. In this case, procrastination doesn't just hurt you, but all the other contributors who were accepted.

9. Remember that, with few exceptions, anthologies are not big money makers. Publishers usually do it for love, fun, promotion or charity. Writers join for fun, publicity, and sometimes charity.

10. From Karina: If you had fun with your story, consider doing more with those characters. Mercedes Lackey did many adventures of Tarma and Kethry, including some novels, after writing a story about them for Sword and Sorceress. My DragonEye, PI, ( ) series of books and novels started from a story I wrote for Firestorm of Dragons. ( )

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At 2:50 PM, Blogger Lisa Haselton said...

Great advice all around. Thanks, ladies!

At 5:49 PM, Blogger Lin52 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 5:52 PM, Blogger Lin52 said...

Picked up some new tips from you two- thanks!

Lin Neiswender


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