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Do’s and Don’ts of Writing for an Anthology

By Leslie Sartor

Have you ever had your work published as part of an anthology? Many writers strive to participate in anthologies because they’re a great way to connect with other authors in your genre and, even more importantly, find new readers. When authors participate in an anthology, they pool resources and share promotion duties, which means finding a wider audience. Having your work exposed to more readers can result in more sales.

Interested in learning more but don’t know how to get started? Read on for my do’s and don’ts for anthologies!

Blog post by K.L. Montgomery for Book Brush, Do's and Don'ts for Anthology Writers

Finding An Anthology

Do’s

  • Do build relationships with authors in the same genre as you. Often, opportunities to join anthologies come through writer groups or word of mouth.
  • Do look for opportunities on social media. Authors I polled found anthology submission calls on Facebook, Twitter, and various websites. A simple Facebook search will yield several Facebook groups devoted to connecting authors with anthology opportunities.
  • Do keep an eye out for opportunities related to groups you already belong to, both in-person and virtual ones. Sometimes anthologies are published in conjunction with book signings or to benefit specific charities.

Don’ts

  • Don’t forget to vet the anthology publisher before joining the team. Assess the quality of what they have already published. How long have they been published? How much experience do they have with organizing anthologies? Can you speak with other authors who have worked with them?
  • Don’t go overboard joining anthologies. They can take up a lot of time, and they require hard and fast deadlines. You don’t want to overcommit or burn yourself out by joining too many, particularly those with overlapping deadlines.
  • Don’t have unrealistic expectations for what an anthology can do for you. Will you make new author friends and gain new readers? Most likely. But you probably won’t sell millions of copies and become a famous author thanks to one anthology submission.

Things To Consider

Do’s

  • Do find out what the goal of the anthology is. Will proceeds be donated to charity, or is the goal to make a profit for the publisher and contributors? How are the profits being split? Is the anthology list-aiming (meaning the goal is to make a bestseller list, for example, the USA Today list)?
  • Do ask if there is a buy-in. Many anthologies require authors to put up money for things like cover design, editing, and promotion. Ask the organizer what the buy-in will be used for.
  • Do participate in the planning and organization as much as possible. Many times there will be a Facebook group or another virtual venue where decisions will be made about the cover, blurb, order of entries, pricing, distribution, important dates, promotion responsibilities, etc. Sometimes organizers will divvy up tasks like graphic design (for teasers, promotional graphics, etc.), social media postings, or arranging newsletter swaps. If you commit to an anthology, expect to participate in the planning and promotion process.

Don’ts

  • Don’t participate without a contract. The contract should spell out both your responsibilities as an author: due dates, length of submission, buy-in, and what contributions you need to make as far as promotion is concerned, as well as the publisher’s responsibilities: how the final product will be vetted, how the buy-in will be spent, how the profits will be handled, what types of advertising and promotion will be done, and how the rights are being handled (see below for more on rights).
  • Don’t forget to clarify your rights. How long will the publisher hold the rights to your anthology piece? Many times it is temporary. Is the contract only for ebook rights or paperback too? What about audio rights? Will you be able to publish your piece elsewhere and in other formats during the contract, or are the publisher’s rights exclusive?

Crafting Your Submission

Blog image for Anthology post by K.L. Montgomery for Book Brush Blog

Do’s

  • Do make sure your submission follows the theme of the anthology and be sure to stick to the length outlined in your contract. Sometimes anthologies will be chapters, some novellas, some full novels. Make sure you understand what’s expected and deliver accordingly.
  • Do consider making your anthology piece connect in some way to other works you have written, so you can entice new readers who are getting a taste of your style to buy your other books. You may choose to write a prequel to a series as your anthology piece, kick off a series with the first book in the anthology, or center your anthology piece around a side character from another book you’ve written.
  • Do communicate with your anthology organizer if you run into any issues with your piece, whether it’s staying on theme, sticking to the length, or meeting your deadline.
  • Do, if allowed, encourage new readers to sign up for your newsletter or follow you on social media at the end of your anthology piece.

Don’ts

  • Don’t skimp on editing or proofreading. Make sure you allow plenty of time for however many rounds of editing you typically require. Even if the publisher has hired an editor for the entire anthology, you should use an editor you feel comfortable with for your piece prior to submission.
  • Don’t forget that this will be many readers’ first introduction to your work. Make sure your piece shows them what to expect from your books. The voice, style, point of view, genre, etc. of your anthology piece should be in line with what you typically write.

Promotion

K.L. Montgomery's example for her anthology participation, shown in Book Brush Anthology blog

Do’s

  • Do regularly post the anthology and links in your newsletter, on your social media, and talk it up at signings or other events you attend.
  • Do look for out-of-the-box ways to promote your anthology, such as appearing on podcasts to promote it, or offering exclusive swag and giveaways to readers, see examples from Book Brush.
  • Do find Advance Review Copy readers and make sure they get a copy of your story in time to post a review on or close to release day (if you’re allowed to distribute your own ARCs, of course. Check your contract!)
  • Do uphold your contract and faithfully complete any promotion tasks you’ve been assigned. If you sign up to do it, do it!

Don’ts

  • Don’t post the same old advertising copy and graphics for your anthology over and over again. Stay on brand, but mix it up. Readers will start to tune out if they see the same images and copy over and over again, especially over a period of months, which is typical for anthology promotion. This is where Book Brush comes in—there are so many different options for showcasing your anthology! Try the instant mock-ups and videos, in addition to the custom creator.
  • Don’t get burned out. Promotion is the hardest part of participating in an anthology, as it takes the longest time and requires the most work. Try to do a little each week, perhaps setting aside an hour or two to complete your promotion tasks. During release week, block off some of your schedule to attend to promotion duties.
  • Don’t burn bridges. Your fellow participants will notice if you don’t pull your weight. Publishers and authors won’t want to work with you if you have a reputation for not following through with anthology commitments.

Final Thoughts

Do’s

  • Do have a plan for what to do with your anthology piece when you get the rights back.
  • Do try to stay in contact with your fellow participants and look for ways you can continue to cross-promote each other.
  • Do thank your organizer/publisher for all their hard work!

Don’ts

  • Don’t forget to get a rights reversion letter from your publisher when their rights expire. Many times retailers will ask to see this letter in order to verify you have the right to publish.
  • Don’t forget to stay in touch with new readers you have found through the anthology. Welcome them on social media or to your newsletter with a beautiful graphic. You could use Book Brush to create a “What to Read Next” image and suggest the next book of yours they should sink their teeth into.
  • Don’t forget to have fun with it! It can be a great time of bonding with new author friends and celebrating your success!

Headshot of Krista Venero w/a K.L. MontgomeryBio:
Krista Venero writes under two pen names, Phoebe Alexander and K.L. Montgomery; edits books for indie authors; and runs the 5000-member Indie Author Support group on Facebook. She lives in coastal Delaware with her husband, sons, and fur babies, but she’s still a Hoosier at heart. You can often find her on the beach or in the pool when she’s not busy writing or editing. Find out more at www.mountainswanted.com

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