How To Compile A
Successful Anthology That Sells!
By Dorothy Thompson
Do you have a collection of short stories hanging around the house gathering
dust? Are you a member of a poetry-writing group that would love to see
their poems published? Do you have a particular interest that the world
would love to hear about? Gather them up and write, edit, and compile your
I have written, compiled, and edited an anthology called "Romancing the
Soul," a collection of true soul mate stories from various authors. I
am about to tell you how you, too, can compile a best-selling anthology today!
You Have To Have Passion For Your Subject
First of all, you must have passion for your subject. You must truly believe you
have something that people would want to read. Create a theme for your
passion. You want to create an anthology of short stories? Try coming up
with titles to indicate your theme. ‘Short Stories From the
Edge’ would indicate to the reader that it is a collection of suspense
Okay, you have the passion, then what? What’s the first step to take?
You have to do your homework.
Let's say you are compiling an anthology of poetry. Do you know the basics of
writing poetry? Can you tell bad poetry from good poetry? No one is
going to read a book of poems that you have edited if you can't provide that
Run a search on the internet at Barnes & Noble
(http://www.bn.com) or Amazon
(http://www.amazon.com) to see if there is
book covered on your subject. Perhaps you'll find one and want to give up.
Give it a delightful twist to make your anthology ‘different’ from the
others. Let’s say you want to do a book of poetry. There are
dozens of books of poetry. What would make yours stand out? How
about current events? How about a book of poetry written by the survivors
of ‘September 11, 2001’? How about a book of poetry by the firemen who
saved those few remaining survivors?
Provide A Website
One of the most important tools to succeed with getting your word across about
your anthology is a website. You can pay for someone to do it, but if
finances are pretty tight as they are for most “starving” writers, you can
opt for a free website host. There are many out there for free.
Announce your anthology at the top of the page. After that, provide
viewers with needed information on what your anthology is all about. Give
word length, how many stories they may submit, whether attachments are allowed,
cover letter requirements (your name, snail and email address, telephone number,
the title and word count), and bio requirements. Mention what rights will
be obtained and when the deadline for submissions is. It is very important
to mention what compensation they will receive so they will not be mislead.
Whether it is a paying anthology or whether they will receive compensation in
copies, it is vital you give this information up front. Also, give an email or
snail address to where writers can send their submissions.
Join writing groups and announce your anthology. Start a thread about your
Use your email address book and look up everyone you know and tell them about
Scour newsletters to see if they list contest announcements (yes, this could be
in the contest category) or calls for submissions.
Sign guest books with links to where they can view your guidelines.
You have done the groundwork; now it is time to find stories for your book.
You will get a few interested parties from your website and networking with your
writers groups. If that is not enough, you have to go get them! I
went to writing sites and put the words ‘soul mates’ in their search engines.
Once I found a writer who had written a well-written piece on soul mates, I
would email them and politely ask them if they would consider submitting their
article to my book. You must be careful and avoid spamming or you will end
up with a lot of nasty retorts! I, fortunately, only had the pleasure of
receiving heart-warming responses to the people I queried. They either
expressed interest or they politely said "no."
Editing Your Anthology
This is where the blood, sweat and tears come in. Getting your submissions is
the easy part, but editing them is the most important part to get your book
ready to send to the publishers.
Your stories must fit together like pieces of a puzzle. Ordinarily, your first
three stories should be your best. Some publishers accept proposals, which
would include the first three chapters, so it is very important to pick those
that are the best written and stand out from the rest. These three stories
are what will make you or break you.
Once you have your stories all flowing harmoniously together, put together a
‘bio’ page. This is the page where you list the author’s names and
their bylines, with links to their works or web page (if applicable).
Don’t forget the Introduction! The Introduction or Preface will inform
the reader how your anthology got its origins.
Finding A Publisher
I was lucky in that I had many author friends who could direct me towards the
right publishers for my anthology. Not every publisher will take on
collections of stories or poetry. There’s a good website to go to
familiarize yourself with anthology compiling. You can find it at: http://www.anthologiesonline.com.
Before you look for a publisher, decide in which format you want to see your
book. If you have many links to websites, a good e-publisher might be
recommended. I preferred to go the print route with mine; but that is a
personal opinion. There are many publishers that offer all publishing
formats. They are the ones to look for in many cases.
Another thing to keep in mind is that some publishers will request the whole
manuscript, so before you start querying, it would be a good idea to have it
Okay, you have the website up and running, the word is out, now it is the time
to sit back and wait for submissions to roll in. How wrong you are!
Now is the time to do the footwork! You can start by making up flyers
announcing your anthology and posting them
around town. Be sure to put your contact information on them so the public
will know how to get in touch with you. Post them everywhere. I put
them in libraries, hospital message boards, nursing homes, etc...
Call your local radio stations and ask for an interview. More than likely,
they would love to do an interview with someone local.
Call your local newspaper.
Put an excerpt from your anthology on your website with links to where they can
Write articles about your subject and provide a link where they can buy yours.
My anthology experience provided so much pleasure for me that I’m sure if you
follow these steps I have outlined, you will reap in the joys of having your own
anthology published and read the world over!
© Dorothy Thompson 2002
Dorothy Thompson is a freelance writer, children's book author, and
anthologist from the Eastern Shore of Virginia. She is also editor of a
Writer's Digest Magazine Top 101 Website, The Writer's Life (http://www.thewriterslife.net),
Her children's book, No More Gooseberry Pie, is available from Writers-Exchange
Her anthology, Romancing the Soul, True Stories and Verse of the Existence of
Soul Mates From Around the World and Beyond
is pending publication.
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