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Monday, November 25, 2013

Five Tips for Putting Out an Anthology

This month on The Rockville 8 we've had a lot of fun talking about anthologies (collections of writings by various authors, usually short stories or novellas). Evie Owens introduced us to her mistresses and shared inside info about her new release Once and Forever. And Keely Thrall discussed the things she loves about reading a good anthology.

Last year I was lucky enough to participate in a holiday-themed anthology called A Spirited Season, with my good pals Karen Cantwell and Laura Lucas. We each contributed two stories with a Christmas paranormal theme, packaged 'em up and put 'em on sale. (Side note: A Spirited Season is available on Kindle, Nook and Kobo, and all proceeds go to the Children's Miracle Network.)

So let's say you're a writer, and you want to get some work out there, but you're not sure if you're ready to publish your novel (either indie publishing or traditional publishing). Putting out an anthology is a great way to get yourself some exposure and let readers know who you are. Plus, it's fun!

If you're interested in putting together an anthology, here are a few tips to get you started:

1) Grab some friends. Well, don't literally grab them, but talk to your writing buddies and see who might want to participate. Make sure that your anthology partners are willing to help with the extraneous, administrative functions involved. (More on that in step three.)

2) Pick a theme. One of the challenges of an anthology is the differences in author writing styles. Sometimes a reader falls in love so hard with one particular author's style that it can be jarring to finish one short story and go right into another. Having a theme eases the transition and adds to the fun! For A Spirited Season, my friends and I obviously chose Christmas. While holiday themes are fun and provide a little bit of help with marketing, they do have a limited sales life, as you'll only really be able to push the marketing at a certain time of year. But whatever your theme, make it one you all love and can enjoy writing about.

3) Divide the labor. Okay, in a nutshell, here is a list of non-writing-related tasks that will need to be done to put out your anthology:
  • Cover design.
  • Conversion to e-book formats.
  • Uploading.
  • Distribution of funds.
How you divide the labor and distribute the funds is of course up to you! Each one of these tasks comes with its own need for special skills, so don't be afraid to hire a professional. Karen, Laura and I each paid for part of the work that needed to be done, then our expenses were reimbursed before the funds were distributed to charity.

4) Write, edit, proofread. Whether you hire a professional editor and proofreader, or trade off and co-edit each other's stories, make sure you're putting out your best work. Short stories give you fewer words with which to impress the reader, so make 'em count!

5) Upload and announce! Once your anthology is available for purchase, let the announcement ring from the highest mountaintop! Nothing is more fun than seeing your work in print, and nothing is more rewarding than hearing from readers who loved it. So, enjoy!

Have you ever participated in an anthology? What was your experience like?




9 comments:

Emelle Gamble said...

Lovely post, Misha Crews! I think you nailed all the tasks, but I'm wondering how you used social media and blog appearances, etc. to get the word out? We all lead such busy lives and the social media is so demanding...did your group divide up the tasks? Where did you publicize? Inquiring (author)minds want to know...

Shellie Williams said...

Excellent primer on overall tasks! thanks. Yes, there is more to an anthology than writing.

I suppose too, that you can't just post your anthology to Kindle or Nook without thoughts of marketing. What are some tips you have for marketing an anthology?

Misha Crews said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Misha Crews said...

Hi Shellie! Marketing anthologies is easier in some ways because all the authors can pitch in. I was just telling Emelle in her comment above that I can do a follow-up blog with more marketing specifics - ads placed, etc.Thanks for your question! :-)

Misha Crews said...

Thanks Emelle, so glad you liked the post! Yes, you're right, promotion is always the biggest challenge for any writer. For our anthology, we did make use of personal social media connections, the usual word-of-mouth for family and friends, and some ads were taken out. Unfortunately I don't have the list of ads in front of me so I can't give specifics (sorry - I know that's a frustrating non-answer!), but I'd be happy to do a follow-up blog post on that in the near future. Thank you again for your comment! Happy Monday! :-)

Emelle Gamble said...

Thanks Misha for the offer of a list, but please don't take time from your busy schedule for that. I've got lists out my ears! I tweet and FB and do ads...lots of good places, I was just wondering how that had worked for your group. Again, thanks for the great post!

Mackenzie Lucas said...

Great tips, Misha. Love the advice. It makes sense that you need to divide the administrative labor and it would make promoting a book a little less onerous if you have more than one person contributing to the social media effort.

I have not yet been involved in an anthology. However, the R8 does have one planned for next year. So I'm looking forward to using your tips as we develop and write our stories for that book.

Thanks for posting such sage advice.

Misha Crews said...

Emelle - Lists to your ears -- boy, can I relate to that! :-) Well now that I'm thinking about it, I'm actually wanting to pull the marketing info together, so I might just post that follow-up blog anyway, lol! Thanks again for your comments! Appreciate it! :-)

Misha Crews said...

Mackenzie - Thanks for your comment! So glad you liked the post. Yes, splitting the labor is one of the best things about an anthology, lol. I'm looking forward to our anthology next year! :-)