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Why Write for Anthologies?
by Susan Sundwall

Some say serous writers should stay away from anthologies but for me, and my writer’s group, writing for anthologies is an all time favorite. It may be true that an anthology is an editor’s dream. There are often hundreds of personal story submissions and the editors have the opportunity to choose only the best of the best for their book. In addition, the modest onetime payment for each story and a contributor’s copy of the book are usually the only compensation to the writer. But there’s an upside for those writers, too.

  • No research. The material is all there, tapped from personal experience.

  • Writing time is short and word count is low

  • Writing out our memories helps keep them alive

  • A writing credit is gained

My writer’s group and I have learned the ins and outs of writing for anthologies and, while our daily writing discussions tend to stay on the surface, with this kind of writing our kinship only deepens. When we critique a story, we learn about some of the life affecting moments that helped shape that person’s personality and life view. Four of us actually landed in the same children’s story anthology a few years ago. What a joy filled shout fest it was when we each got an acceptance! Our group experience in writing for anthologies has been nothing but positive, and we’re among the first to be notified by editors when new categories in a series opens up. Bonus!

Nearly all anthologies are themed. This saves the writer from having to come up with a topic. When a series of anthologies becomes very popular, like the Chicken Soup books, the market probably won’t dry up any time soon, increasing your chances of selling one of your stories. Best of all, you’ve got a short piece that’s focused. There’s a beginning, middle and an end, encompassing all the elements of a good short story. The beauty of that is, should your attempt to sell to a particular anthology fail, you have a story in the wings for another market or even a different anthology series. For example, in response to a call for submissions for a “life lesson” anthology, I wrote a short essay about a pumpkin pie I made as a young girl. The story didn’t make the cut for the anthology, but, undaunted, I sent it along to a regional paper in South Carolina that takes personal essays. The editor snapped it up. Her theme for the autumn issue was memories, so my story was a perfect fit.

I consider my anthology writing to be a great exercise in the craft. I regard those pieces as little gems in my inventory, ready to be pulled out whenever one of my topics fits a call for submissions. If you are like-minded, here some website links with guidelines:

We’re a story telling nation. Anthologies take our love of story beyond the break room, over the back fence and away from the dinner table, rounding them up for the wider audience that these books reach. I like it. It’s a good feeling to know that a schoolteacher in Iowa or a retiree in Florida has had a similar life experiences to mine. My writing friends and I seek anthologies out and it just might be a market that appeals to you, too.

© Copyright 2008, Susan Sundwall

Susan is a freelance writer, sometime poet and soon to be blogger. Read her children’s story, "Mary’s Sparrow."

Other articles by Susan Sundwall :

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