From modern-day tales of the American West to essays about the Golden Age of Radio to vegan science fiction stories, anthologies showcase an amazing array of topics. Even more incredible, these diverse and sometimes bizarre anthologies are generally open to unsolicited submissions. “Okay,” you say, “but why should I submit stories to anthologies when I already send my work to literary and genre magazines?” Read on, and find out!
Extended Shelf Life
Getting a story published in a paying literary magazine is great, but each print magazine issue typically appears only once. And unless the magazine hosts a free online archive, or subscribers hoard every issue, your work is essentially gone when the next issue is delivered. True, if you get the rights back to your story, you can republish it. But wouldn’t it be cool if your story appeared in a paperback or e-book anthology? Let’s face it, books are harder to throw away than old magazine issues.
Themes and Deadlines
When a magazine with a rolling submission policy says, “Send us your best literary fiction short stories up to 10,000 words,” the vagueness of these instructions can be daunting. Combine that with a total lack of deadlines, and the motivation to submit can completely vanish. After all, why not wait until tomorrow? And besides, what should you write about? In contrast, themed anthology calls with strict content requirements discourage procrastination and writer’s block. If you have only a few weeks to produce a maximum 6,000-word speculative story about bicycles, cats, and feminism, the challenge of meeting these unusual requirements within a tight schedule can unleash your creativity and help produce a story you never would have imagined otherwise.
Fame by Association
Anthologies often select stories from both established and burgeoning writers. Having your story chosen for an anthology could put your work in the same book as a famous writer in your genre. If a diehard devotee of that author sees your work in the same anthology, you may gain a new fan. And as you read your contributor copy, you may find some new authors to follow as well. Think of it as a networking opportunity without the cocktails and the small talk.
Little Fish in a Smaller Pond
Although some anthologies restrict submissions to certain groups, such as subscribers to their email newsletter or residents from a particular country, many others are open to the public. With their highly specific topics, anthologies are likely to draw from a smaller pool of writers. A staggering number of writers want to be published in The New Yorker, and this creates nearly impossible levels of competition. But how many writers are clamoring to submit horror stories devoted to pizza? Whether you’re a new writer or a veteran author, submitting to an obscure anthology could give you the edge you need to get your next (or first!) paid writing credit.
Like magazines, anthologies usually make a one-time purchase of first rights. However, some anthologies pay an advance against royalties that are split among the contributors. Depending upon how many contributors are in a particular anthology, royalty payments could amount to only pennies. That’s assuming the advance is ever paid off, but the possibility of ongoing income from a single short story can be an exciting prospect. It’s also a great incentive to advertise the anthology on your author website or social media accounts.
“All right,” you say. “Those reasons all sound pretty good. But where do I find these elusive anthologies?”
This can be a difficult question to answer. Unlike established magazines with a consistent publication schedule, anthologies are often created on a whim. An editor has a flash of inspiration one day and then starts a crowdfunding campaign to bring the project to fruition. If the project creator doesn’t have a large following, good luck finding that awesome anthology in the making. Thankfully, there are a few places to easily locate anthology submission calls.
Start with Submittable. On your account, click “Discover,” and then type “anthology” in the search bar. You can also type a genre such as “fantasy” in the search bar to refine your results. Scroll through the current listings that meet your specifications, and check back frequently.
Another helpful resource is Erica Verrillo’s blog “Publishing… and Other Forms of Insanity.” Verrillo maintains a regular “Call for Submissions” page that lists only paying markets, most of which don’t require a reading fee. A number of these listed submission calls, which sometimes include anthologies, accept work through Submittable. For additional anthology submission calls, check out NewPages and Horror Tree.
Perusing current Kickstarter campaigns is another option. Type “anthologies” in the search bar and limit your results to “live projects.” Keep in mind that many listed campaigns aren’t open to additional submissions, but you never know what you may find.
Need another source for anthology calls? Look at published anthologies on the internet or your local library, and make a note of the publisher’s name. The anthology could have been a one-time project, but it may be part of an ongoing series. Visit the anthology publisher’s website for more information. Some publishers offer a free email newsletter to inform writers of their next anthology submission calls. Otherwise, you may just have to keep checking back.
No matter how or where you find anthology opportunities, always research the publisher for legitimacy and read all guidelines carefully before submitting. So what are you waiting for? Let the anthology search begin!