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Anthologies are rich with opportunity for new writers hoping to break into the market. And they’re a popular market now—simply count the number of Chicken Soup for the Soul collections in circulation. Editors of anthologies frequently put out calls for submissions from new and established writers. This article will teach you how to submit your stories, poems, and essays to anthologies, as well as where to find a list of anthologies that are open to your work.
An anthology gathers stories and/or essays that center around a common theme, which opens up a great avenue for aspiring authors. Are you a lifetime hiker? There’s probably an anthology of nature-based tales waiting for your contribution. Are you a cancer survivor? Caretaker of an elderly parent? If there’s a common thread that makes people feel a connection with each other, there’s likely a market for your story. These publications depend on the contributions of folks just like you.
Anthologies are often started as a way to fill gaps in the market when a publishing house perceives a need for a certain theme. Sometimes authors get together and submit samples as an anthology package, and other times a single author comes up with the idea and invites other writers to submit. Smaller publishing houses often put out anthologies too. The process will require research, but it may be well worth it.
A few things to look out for when choosing to submit:
1. Some anthologies consider reprints, and it’s best not to be locked into selling all your rights to the piece. Look for “reprints welcome” and “one-time or nonexclusive rights.” If the publisher insists on first rights only, you should receive a larger payment. Check the simultaneous submission policies as well, so that you can circulate your story to more than one potential anthology. However, if your piece is highly specific (targeted for Chicken Soup for the Avalanche Survivor’s Soul), you may have only one market in mind.
2. You should not be forced to purchase the anthology that has published your work, and you should receive at least one free copy plus discounts on additional copies. Avoid “reading fees” and collections that are “for a good cause” (unless you’re willing to write for free).
3. Get the terms of your payment upfront and in writing. Some anthologies pay token fees, which can be acceptable when you consider a great writing credit, while others pay quite handsomely.
Tips for submission:
1. Pay attention to reading periods. Ignore them and risk the Round File.
2. Study the editor’s submission guidelines and follow them to the letter. If the editor wants a 4,000 word count and Times New Roman font, do not be the exception to the rule to “stand out.”
3. Keep your cover letter brief, professional, and to the point. Do not tell your story in the cover letter and then use a couple of paragraphs persuading the editor to buy it. Let her do her job and get on to the good stuff—your actual piece.
4. If you have writing credits, list only the top four or five recognizable literary journals or publications. A list of 20 obscure ‘zines will likely be skipped over.
5. Make sure your work is proofed and polished to within an inch of its life. Clean copy is your friend.
6. As with all submissions, do not be impatient and pester the editor to make sure your piece was received or to ask if he liked it. This is a sure sign of an amateur and a surefire way to irritate the editor. If the publication deadline is looming and you still haven’t heard anything, then a quick query is acceptable.
Overall, anthologies are a great way to get started in this difficult industry. Even if you don’t land a lucrative sale, you’ll still be able to boast a writing credit, and this is what it’s all about—getting your work out there to be read. At Writer’s Relief, it’s our goal to help creative writers like you get published. We can target your writing to the best literary agents and editors out there. Contact us today so that we can save you the hassle of making your submissions.