So there was a discussion on a fellow author’s Facebook about anthologies. While I wasn’t going to add to my long “to do” stack, Cedar Sanderson felt strongly enough about the issue to put together a great post about the topic, while Dorothy Grant also gave her views on the topic.
I’ll add a couple things here. First, getting paid in contributor’s copies is also worthwhile if you sell books in person. I’ve been able to seal many a deal at cons with a “Hey, I can throw in this bludgeoning device, I mean, anthology for half price…”. While this may make your neighbors slightly angsty (“How in the hell are you selling a book that thick for only $10?!!”), it’ll be worth it.
This also provides another illustration of how anthologies are a marketing tool. To put it even plainer, anthologies will not, as a rule, make you rich by themselves–too many mouths to feed. However, as a marketing tool, they do allow you to use someone else’s network to propagate your name to the masses. So once you have a back catalog, definitely take advantage of the chance to bang out a 10,000-word story in one of your chosen genres.
From the editor’s perspective, I can also say that the biggest trick to actually getting accepted is to read the rules. In a couple cases I merely had to gently, but firmly, remind people that there was a word count band for a reason, and that neither Chris Kennedy or I felt comfortable paying someone a full share for less work than we’d asked for. Thankfully they were able to add elements to the story that made them even more awesome (because, believe me, they were amazing even in shortened form), and we were able to proceed with no problems. However, not everyone is going to have the time or wherewithal to make corrections like this.
Closely behind following the rules is, as with all things, be a professional. Positive example of this–I had an author who had, shall we say, a horrendous stretch of bad luck. She not only persevered, but her story was kick ass and a great addition to the anthology. A negative example was the author who, after getting a multi-week delay to get their 33% over word count story back within parameters, had a fit of pique because I did not call them. Yeah, don’t be that person, as the expectation that an editor is personally going to call 10+ authors is insane. At best, expect that a good editor will make regular email contact, keep you appraised of publication delays and, finally, tell you when the anthology is done. From the author’s perspective, professional behavior means letting the editor know if there’s going to be a delay, definitely making any extended deadlines, and generally conducting oneself in a manner that makes an editor decide “Whoa, I’m adding that person to my next gig if at all possible.” There’s a reason you got invited in the first place, so don’t mess it up (and possibly also harm a recommending friend’s reputation) by being a jerk.
Any questions about anthologies? Hit me up in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. Also, Those In Peril is still burning up the charts on Amazon, so go grab a copy if you want to see theory in action!