Wednesday, August 3, 2011

5 Beginning Steps to Putting Together an Anthology

I love to read anthologies, especially if the anthology is a collection of works by different writers. I've just started reading the delightful Guppy Anthology called Fish Tales. If you haven't had a chance to pick up a copy of these 22 tales of murder and mystery by the rising stars of mystery, then you should get on that today! Here's a link. Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology.

The gang at All Things Writing has been working on an anthology of its own. Kaye, Steve, and myself are all into very different styles of writing, yet we all agree that a dark story intrigues us every time. With that in mind, we are creating a collection called All Things Dark and Dastardly. This fun little book will hold tales of mystery, horror, and other things that go bump in the night. Or in your soup can. (Ha! You'll have to read the book to get that little joke!) The book should be available by the end of October, and of course, we'll keep you posted on the book release, giveaways, and other promotional events.

Putting together an anthology with a group of writers is not easy. When you write a novel, it's all on you. When you put together a collection of stories, you have to rely on others. Deadlines, editing--all of that is crucial to getting your work in a coherent form everyone can agree on. If you are considering undertaking this kind of project, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

1. Figure out your theme. This is tricky if you have writers who write in different genres. Come up with a common them and work with that. Otherwise, your stories may feel a little out of whack, something that can turn off a potential reader.

2. Have a word count goal and assign the number of stories each writer will undertake. The count and number of stories may grow or diminish depending on the project, but at least have a starting point.

3. Set deadlines. This is probably one of the more crucial pieces of advice. Deadlines help keep people motivated and provide an end goal. Of course, we're talking about writers. Sometimes life happens, and you have to change deadlines. Be flexible, but do your best to stick to them.

4. Read each other's work. This is a great time to make sure every story fits within the theme and to give constructive criticism. Once all stories have been critiqued, allow for revision time.

5. Hire an editor.  I think this is the most important part of putting together an anthology. Good editing makes your work look polished and professional. An editor will catch all the technical stuff that's been overlooked and can guide you on the order of the stories. We hired the same person that edited Fish Tales, the great and wise Ramona DeFelice Long.

Of course, these are just the beginning stages of putting together an anthology. There are so many other things that go into this process. Have you ever worked on anthology? Share your experience in the comment section.

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