Producing an Anthology

 

Have you ever considered producing an anthology of short stories?

Perhaps you’ve written short stories and never considered creating a collection, or you’re a novelist who shuns the short story discipline to concentrate on longer work.

My first anthology was a project, a challenge, a dream, and a nightmare all before it became a reality.

I’d written numerous short stories and won competitions, but Smoke & Mirrors: and other stories was my first foray into compiling an anthology. Should I aim for a theme or go multi-genre? Is it best to go with a complete set of original work or include something which has been commended? Go it alone or ask other people to donate a story?

The questions pile up about ten seconds after the decision to tackle such a project.

I’m pleased to report that stories from that first collection are still referred to in reviews, which is heartwarming. It is also a testament to the credibility of the stories and justifies their inclusion. I’ve now compiled seven anthologies including The Welcome: and other Sci-Fi stories created by inviting other authors to join me.

When I compiled ‘The Welcome’ it was never about earning money, it was always intended as a platform for fellow authors from the IASD and me to get examples of our work out there. No, the collection hasn’t made me a millionaire although the book continues to sell the occasional copy. Thanks to Amazon’s peculiar attitude to customers spending a set amount of money before being allowed to comment, there are now fewer reviews being posted.

I suppose I should come clean and admit that if you’re a multi-genre author like me there is a constant need to work on a new anthology. If writing short stories appeals to you then the next logical step must be producing a range of your work instead of keeping it aside waiting for the opportunity a competition offers.

Would you prefer to keep all the stories in one genre, or might you find it easier to mix the genre?

The two main routes to go are theme-based or genre-based, and then, of course, you can go it alone or invite work from others. Apart from anything else, it’s a great way to hone your writing skills.

I enjoy reading and writing short stories. In the Resources section of my blog, apart from tips on the discipline of Writing a Short Story and Competition Writing I have sections regarding anthologies, Creating an Anthology, and Theme or Genre-based?

The key, as with all writing projects is the desire to take on the mission.

If you are more inclined to work on novels, you’ll appreciate that your manuscript needs some downtime, and one of the most useful ways of dealing with this I’ve found is to work on a couple of short stories. Sometimes the distraction produces further inspiration for the novel.

Have you considered inviting fellow authors to join you in creating a collection?

If you have a favourite genre or theme you could create a collection of your short stories or use yours as a base and mix in stories donated by other authors. You are in control.

When you get right down to it, you are practising your writing craft by producing short stories so why not take that next step and build up a few and make them the ‘chapters’ of your first anthology.

I dare you—you’ll be hooked.

My next anthology, due publication in 2020, starts with a factual story, so once again, another twist. The aim for me is to produce a collection of twelve original tales supplemented by three ‘bonus’ stories which are selected from my other anthologies. This creates value for the reader and provides a platform for the other work by the author.

 

Thank you for dropping by, and, as always, comments are welcomed.

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The Lyin’, the Which? and the Word-robe

Glasses and penThe Lyin’ – can otherwise be known as denial, delusion, or any one of several other descriptions. It’s how we deceive ourselves about any aspect of our prospective book.
I love that idea for a cover, we the author might think. Remember, unless we’re honest and open to outside influence and the opinion of those with more experience, a badly designed, or even inappropriate cover is a death-sentence for a book.

Until last year I was one of the worst offenders in this category, because I’m an artist, so who’s going to know better than me? Let’s see … oh yes, a book cover designer. I paid for three of my covers to be designed professionally and my books captured more interest – and damn me if they didn’t start selling more.

We can do the same with the writing. As the author who produced the wonderful story, we can truly appreciate how good it is – can’t we? We let relatives or friends read it and they suggest publishing, because they are so amazed at our talent … yeah, whatever.

DO NOT listen to friends or relatives; unless they are qualified to give an objective opinion.

That is an area where I’m pretty well protected. My wife and son don’t read fiction, and since leaving my military career in 1992 I’ve never had an acquaintance I would promote to the title of ‘friend’. The closest folk to me are those I’ve met on sites and blogs. I will give special mention here to Paul Ruddock, because we’ve actually met, and he really is a nice guy. We met at the Self-Publishing Conference earlier this year – an eye-opener.

The Which? – refers to how we can learn about the craft of presentation? Read, read, and then read some more. When you’ve finished … well read more. Don’t depend solely on one writer and one genre, but do consider reading authors who are already established. For example: Wilbur Smith, Tom Clancy, Stephen King, Sue Moorcroft or any other author who is already a name and publishes in the conventional (paperback/top publishing house) system.

I would suggest that if you are a fellow Indie author it is a good idea to read those established authors in eBook format. Why? Quite simply because it lets you see what the book layout should look like and how paragraphs are dealt with. You’ll see for example that dialogue has a certain discipline. Dialogue is indented, just like fresh paragraphs are indented.

What else is there? Oh yes! Punctuation. You are not going to see more than one exclamation mark!!! You are not going to see an ellipsis of more than three full stops … or are you ….. “When do you use double quotes?” and ‘Why would you change to single quotes?’

The Word-robe – ah yes, and to make it easy straight away, I’ll rename it. For the sake of argument let’s call it a … Dictionary and Thesaurus. We must all learn to expand our vocabulary so that we don’t depend on the same word being used continually in a book, if there are alternatives.

Let’s look at moving from point A to point B:
He walked, jogged, ran, sprinted, hurled, fell, staggered, strolled, minced, and with a few drinks your character will probably invent some others for you.

Remember, don’t use a big word or obscure word when a straightforward, smaller word will work just as well.

I’d like to suggest checking out ‘Resources for Writers’ on my main menu. A decent, simple-to-follow book on punctuation and grammar is an investment. If I had to suggest three books to have close at hand they would be:
Any good, standard-sized Dictionary and Thesaurus
On Writing by Stephen King
The Writer’s abc Checklist by Lorraine Moore & Maureen Vincent-Northam

I do realise that I might sometimes come across as being hard-nosed in my opinions, but it’s hard to inject humour and be taken seriously when writing about something you care about.
Please keep in mind that your name, brand, credibility as a writer and integrity as a person are on the line when you publish. Don’t go ahead too quickly and above all don’t be greedy when you set a price if you are an unknown.

Why am I so passionate when I’m ‘only’ an Indie author? I started working seriously at this craft in 2007 and I want to help my peers to avoid mistakes I made in the learning process. I want to help others to find the shortcuts I had to learn about through hard work.

As always, I thank you for sticking with me through this blog, article, rant, outburst, tutorial or however you’d like to refer to it.

My fuel tank ... and a message.

My fuel tank … and a message.