Do you want to learn how to write an anthology?
Anthologies are very much in trend these days, and for all the right reasons. They are quick reads and are a collection of stories. Furthermore, they are also a great gift to give to a book lover. Anthologies have been a part of the literary world for ages and are here to stay.
What are Anthologies?
Simply put, an anthology is a collection of writings by a variety of authors. It may be non-fiction, short-fiction or poetry. Anthologies are usually organized around a particular theme, genre, subject or writing style.
An anthology has the power to amplify the voices of its contributors. One of the most popular anthology book series is Chicken Soup for the Soul by Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield. Each book contains a collection of inspirational stories targeted at different audiences. It includes pet lovers, nurses, cancer patients, runners, new moms, gardeners, etc.
Many authors write for anthologies when they are going through a writer’s block. Writing for anthologies warms up your creativity and imagination. It is also a great option for beginner writers who are trying to build up their portfolio. In addition to getting exposure, they are also able to make some money.
Want to know how to write an anthology?
You’ve come to the right place.
Here is a step-by-step guide on writing an anthology.
A Step-By-Step Guide on Writing an Anthology
Step 1: Look for an Interesting Theme
First things first, you must start by looking for interesting themes and topics for your anthology. It should be unique and exciting. It may be as specific or as generic as you want. There are no hard and fast rules here.
You may also simply pick a specific genre and use it as a theme. For example, ‘romance’ or ‘mystery’. Furthermore, you can then select a specific theme within your chosen genre, if you want. You can choose anything that you think will prove to be a good collection of writings once completed.
On the other hand, you can also choose a specific theme that can be written across from the perspective of various genres. If you choose this, your anthology will be a collection of writings on the same theme but from different genres.
For example, you can choose ‘motherhood’ as a theme. The stories you include in your anthology can be from various genres like fiction, non-fiction, philosophy, mystery, horror, fantasy, history, romance, mythology, thriller, etc.
You must also research the market before finalizing the theme of your anthology. Start with your local library or search for different writing and book platforms. This will help you be familiar with what’s already on the market and what you can do differently.
You can also base an anthology on your interests and hobbies, like travel, sports, history, etc. In short, you can choose any theme that you think has a fan base and that readers will find interesting to read.
Step 2: Going Solo or With a Partner
Now that you have decided to compile an anthology, you should decide if you want to go solo on your anthology project or want to work with a partner. Many people like to have total control over their work. If you are also one of them, then going solo is the best option.
However, going solo also means that you will have to do all the hard work yourself. It includes, but is not limited to, making calls for submissions, contacting publishers and agents and of course, proofreading and editing manuscripts.
If you think you won’t be able to handle all this work on your own, then you should find someone you can partner with.
Step 3: Set Goals
Once you have decided on the theme of your anthology, the next step is to set goals. We suggest creating SMART goals for your anthology. They should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. The goals may be related to anything, depending upon your motives of creating an anthology.
Here are some examples of goals that people who write anthologies set:
- Earn a specific amount of money
- Make it a tribute to someone
- Donate the earnings from the anthology to a charity
It is important to set your goals before you start writing an anthology. This will keep you focused, and you will be able to steer your anthology in the right direction. Furthermore, you should also decide if you want to self-publish the anthology or want to go with traditional publishing.
Step 4: Frame Guidelines for Contributors
Your contributors must know what they are working with before they submit their writings to your anthology. Therefore, you must set guidelines for them. This step is very important and at the same time, very time-consuming.
While your anthology is a collaborative work, it still needs to be streamlined and should have an organized template and layout. Setting out guidelines for your contributors will help you streamline the process.
When it comes to framing guidelines, the first and the most important one is to regulate the word count. 2000-5000 is the ideal word count for each story. However, you can change it as per your specific needs and the number of stories that you are going to publish.
In addition to the word count, you can also set guidelines about the theme, narration style, formatting, tone, etc.
Last but not least, you must also create specific guidelines about legal details such as copyrights, payments and royalty. If you are going to donate the amount you earn from the book to charity, specify it beforehand as well.
It is important to be as clear in your guidelines as possible. This will save you a lot of hassle later on.
Step 5: Look for the Right Publisher
By now, you must have decided if you will opt for traditional publishing or self-publishing. Whatever you choose, it is time to find a publisher. If you want the forthcoming legal procedures to be as hassle-free as possible, then you must talk to the publishers even before you have finalized your stories.
There are two ways of approaching publishers. You can send them a proposal about your anthology and ask them to consider it. Or, you can also send them one of your sample stories and ask them for feedback.
Whatever you choose, make sure that you have contacted publishers before your anthology is ready for editing. This will allow you to make any necessary changes to the anthology as the publisher demands. It will also save you a lot of time and hassle.
Step 6: Call for Submissions
Now that you have checked everything into place, the next step is to call for submissions. There are different ways to do this too. Do you have a circle of bloggers, book lovers or writers? You can personally ask them to contribute. You can also post on social media and on the right forums.
Many people also use speaking engagements, referrals, word of mouth marketing as well as articles in newspapers to spread the word about their anthology.
Whatever you choose, it is important to make sure that you provide all the legal details and guidelines to them so that they can make an informed decision. This step involves a lot of back and forth communication and can be very time-consuming. Therefore, make sure to set your guidelines beforehand and ensure that you communicate them to the contributors as best as you can.
Step 7: Collect the Manuscripts and All the Necessary Documents
Now that the stage is set, it is time to collect manuscripts from your contributors. Ask them to send an edited version of their work. However, you must edit the manuscripts yourself as well before you send them over for publishing.
In addition to their manuscripts, you must also ask them for all the necessary documents. It includes, but is not limited to, a consent letter and a transfer form. If their story is based on some real-life events, they must also provide consent forms from all the people involved. This is important to ensure that no legal issues arise later on once your anthology is published.
You should also share a copy of each of these documents with your publisher as well so that they can take care of the legal side of publishing an anthology.
Proofreading stories is hard work. It can also be very time-consuming. Therefore, people who write anthologies prefer to get editorial help. However, if you have a tight budget, you can consider hiring editorial volunteers. This will streamline the editing process and will give you a good final copy that you can add to your anthology.
Writing Multi-Author Anthologies – Tips to Follow
Multi-author anthologies, as the name suggests, are compiled from stories from different authors. If you are going for a multi-author anthology project, then here are some guidelines that you should follow:
· Invite 2-3 Times More People Than You Need
When it comes to choosing the number of people who will contribute to your anthology, it is always advisable to invite two to three times more people than you need. Not all the contributions will be worthy of publishing. Inviting more work than you need will give you the option to choose from the best work.
· Give Early Deadlines
We have learned this by experience that no matter how professional your contributors are, many of them will miss their first deadline. Therefore, it is advised that you always give them an early deadline so that you have ample time for editing the manuscripts before the publisher deadline comes up.
· Be Specific About the Tone, Style and Language
Working with so many authors is not easy. Therefore, it is suggested that you give them clear guidelines to follow from the beginning. Whether it should be first person or third person, American English or British English, you must communicate all your requirements right from the start.
· Get Editorial Help
As mentioned before, editing and proofreading the work of all your authors is not easy. It is also very time-consuming. Therefore, it is best to have some editorial help at hand so that you don’t miss any deadlines.
· Give Constructive and Substantive Feedback
If you want your anthology to stand out, then you must pay attention to every individual story. You must read each story yourself and get feedback from your editors. Furthermore, you must also share this feedback with your authors so that they can improve their writing.
· Have Some Beta-Readers
Beta-reading is very important when it comes to anthologies. Therefore, you should invite some proofreaders or beta-readers to read through each story. Make sure you are giving them the edited version of the story to read. This will give you another chance of fixing anything that needs to be fixed before you send the stories for publishing.
Contributing to Multi-Author Anthologies – Tips to Follow
Now that you know everything about how to write an anthology, here are some tips for writers who want to contribute to multi-author anthologies:
1. Don’t Apply for Everything
As a writer, you will come across different anthology invites. While choosing to write in an anthology is an entirely personal decision, you must evaluate each factor before you decide to write for an anthology. The most important consideration is to evaluate if writing for an anthology is the best thing to do for your writing career or not.
2. Follow the Guidelines
You will be sent some specific guidelines as soon as you accept the invitation to write an anthology. It is important to follow all the guidelines to a T. This will make things easier for people who are writing the anthology and for you. There will be less back and forth when you follow guidelines.
3. Know Your Rights
You will be asked to sign contracts and forms if you decide to be part of an anthology. Make sure you understand your rights and read the forms thoroughly. Don’t sign anything that you don’t understand or are not sure of. Understand everything before you sign the contracts or any other forms.
4. Edit and Proofread
It is important to edit and proofread your work thoroughly before you submit your entry for the anthology. Your work should be error-free from your end. Sending out the first draft that you create is a bad option. You must read, edit, re-write, proofread, re-edit and only send your work forward when you are fully satisfied and know that it is your best work.
5. Keep the Deadlines in Mind
Work submission deadlines are communicated with authors as soon as they sign up for writing. It is important to keep the deadlines in mind and submit your work before it. Missing your deadlines will only make you seem unprofessional and non-serious and you don’t want that.
· Great Cover Design
Just like any other book, an anthology should also have a great cover design. Don’t overlook the cover design just because it is an anthology. Your cover should be eye-catching and also related to the theme that you have chosen.
· Book Blurb
Again, just like any other book, your anthology should also have an interesting and attention-grabbing book blurb. The blurb should excite the readers. However, don’t give out all the details in the blurb. Keep it small, simple and exciting.
· Crisp Editing
Editing is the most important thing when writing any book, including anthologies. You must pass all the work through a streamlined process of editing if you want your readers to like the anthology.
· Good Marketing
Nobody will know about your anthology until you put it out there and market it well. Use all the right platforms that you think can help you market your book well. Market it online, on social media, in print and in newspapers, whatever you think seems fit.
This is all you need to know about how to write an anthology. Follow these tips and guidelines and you will surely be able to create a successful anthology.