Thursday, August 14, 2008

Getting Into Anthologies

Because I edit a number of fiction anthologies, I'm often asked about how one gets into the anthologies. There is a bit of a trick - not really a secret, though. At one time, I used to do open calls (and I still do for some anthologies). However, open calls produce millions of words of reading. Yes, that many people submit to anthologies. I enjoy the variety, but sometimes responses bounce, email addresses change, or submissions are overlooked. When you consider the volume of stories coming in electronically and by post, there is room for all many of mishaps.

To help manage this, as of late (last couple of years), I've taken to posting queries on my blog. The last time I did this was about a dark fantasy anthology. These posts are not open calls. Why? Because, if I made an obvious post, someone would submit it to many of the wonderful market services, and I'd have countless submissions. And beyond having numerous "subs," many of such submissions are off topic. Many writers have ready made tales that border the requirements of an anthology. This results in increased submissions that are not really focused on the theme of the book I'm editing.

The result of all of this is that I post seemingly rhetorical questions about topics, and the writers who are interested in the topic typically email me with a story, or ask about writing for the anthology.

Oh, I also mention anthologies in my newsletter. Writers often get a head start by reading that.

Perhaps you're wondering why am I mentioning this? Won't it defeat the purpose of this strange system I'm using? Or, if you're one of the writers who knows, you're saying, "Shhh...don't tell everyone." :) Well, the truth is, I do tell most everyone. And mentioning it here won't undermine the tactic because I still don't post all of the information about the anthology - which keeps it from appearing elsewhere. My main motivation for mentioning this now is the number of emails I've had over the last week or so, asking about getting into anthologies. I figured I'd simply make a post to let everyone know.

Other methods of getting into one of these mysterious anthologies is by my contacting you. Sometimes I read a story by a writer, enjoy the story, and find a match with the style with what I'm working on. I also try to bring in a few new writers whenever I can.

This probably leans to the question: Are you about to mention a new anthology. :) No, not right now. I do have a few in the works, but they are mainly full. If a determined writer is interested, that shouldn't keep the writer from emailing me a query at the least (for existing anthologies). Most importantly, keep an eye out for any cryptic messages. Or, the less cryptic version of, I'm editing anthology X (that one is easy to figure out).

Time to stop typing. I'm at Gen Con, and I need to be somewhere else. If you're at the convention, and you run into me, ask me about my latest anthology. :) Or just say "Hello!"

5 comments:

Stewart Sternberg said...

Hmmm.....you could always hire people with sandwich boards to waddle up and down a main thoroughfare...one side of the board: "NEW ANTHOLOGY", other side "NOT AN OPEN CALL".

I look at some anthologies and moan. MOAN. I think: God, I wish I could have submitted something to that one. Or, how does one get a ticket on that ride?

I will be interested in seeing if, after posting this, you see an increase or a decrease in queries. Or if anyone comes up to you at the convention and mentions the post.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm always amazed when I hear how many subs a typical anthology gets. I've always wondered if a lot of folks are trying to empty their "trunks," but most anthologies have clear themes that prevent that. It takes me so long to craft a story that I don't do a lot of theme antholiges because I'm not able to make the deadline.

Steve Buchheit said...

Well, some of us authors you need to slap upside the head. :)

William Jones said...

Stewart - I'll have to try the sandwich board idea. :) And yes, I did run into quite a few folks at Gen Con who asked me about anthologies, and several whom I suggested that my blog might have some details, and a few that I simply stated the intent of the anthology.

Charles - I'm amazed as well! There are times I fear there are more writers than readers out there. I know, one would think they are the same, but typically not. Writers tend not to be the audience of most books. But what a potential audience. :)

Steve - lol I've yet to be that forceful with a writer. I confess, I'm very vague on the topic. Hopefully this post will answer some questions.

Mark Rainey said...

And, for the editor (as William will certainly know), anthologies are less stressful than a regularly scheduled magazine, since the reading period isn't open-ended, and oftentimes the theme, if there is one, limits the number of submissions, to some extent.

Even with the relatively small number of anthologies I've edited, I hate to put out the open call because, sure enough, even if the theme is Deranged Rats From Australia Who Are Having Not-at-all-Palatable Issues With Their Excretory Systems, and your publisher is paying a highly insulting penny a word, the number of submissions will generally be staggering. I rather like the idea of this system. It's definitely something to keep in mind when I put my slightly tattered editor's hat back on.

--M