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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 own anthology! 

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 stories.   

Research

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 expertise.

Run a search on the internet at Barnes & Noble
(http://www.bn.com) or Amazon
(http://www.amazon.com) to see if there is already a
book covered on your subject.  Perhaps you'll find one and want to give up.  Don’t! 

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.

Network

Join writing groups and announce your anthology. Start a thread about your subject.   

Use your email address book and look up everyone you know and tell them about it. 

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.

Getting submissions

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 completed. 

Promote

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 buy it.

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), WordsOnAWire
(http://www.wordsonawire.com), The Write Woman
(http://www.thewritewoman.net) and SoulMateMystique
(http://www.soulmatemystique.com).  Her children's book, No More Gooseberry Pie, is available from Writers-Exchange E-Publishing (http://www.writers-exhcange.com/epublishing/dorothy-book1.htm).
Her anthology, Romancing the Soul, True Stories and Verse of the Existence of Soul Mates From Around the World and Beyond
(http://www.thewriterslife.net/romancingthesoul.html)
is pending publication.

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