Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why Anthologies Make Good Markets

If you write speculative fiction but have never submitted to an anthology, you should consider it. I've found anthologies to be good markets.
  • Anthologies get fewer submissions than equivalent-paying magazines, so your chances of acceptance of higher.
  • Personally, I'm more creative when I have boundaries. An anthology provides a topic, usually an approach, and maximum and minimum word counts. I can come up with several ideas for an anthology story while watching a TV show, while I have a hard time corralling ideas, characters, and settings into something coherent when I have the whole of time and space to work in. 
  • Editors of anthologies sometimes arrange booksignings, increasing your name recognition. 
  • Editors sometimes arrange readings at bookstores or sf/f cons, increasing your name recognition.
  • Being in an anthology is an automatic conversation topic when you meet other authors in the anthology at sf/f cons and meetings.
  • Anthologies have deadlines. You can't put off writing your story or keep revising it; if you want to submit, you have to meet the deadline. If you write for anthologies, you get more stories out.
  • Sometimes I write a story that doesn't match the guidelines of any magazine. A few times, I've sold such stories to anthologies, where they were a perfect fit.
It's easy to find out about anthologies. Start with's list of open anthologies at This summary briefly lists genres, word count, pay, and other important matters. When you see an anthology that interests you, click on its name. A new window will open—sometimes it will be the page with submission information; other times, it will be a publisher's home page and you'll have to look for the submission instructions.

Another source that I have not used often but other people swear by is Duotrope. Its search page is at The fewer items you specify, the more hits you'll get. So to review all open paying anthologies in all genres, go down to the "Payscale" box and choose the minimum pay you want, go down to "Anthologies" box and click, then click "Search." Click on the title, and you'll go to Duotrope's summary. From there, you can go to the publisher's or anthology's Website.

The only bad experience I've had with anthologies is that they seem more likely not to respond if they're not interested.

I'll be blogging again at Novel Spaces on April 6. Hope to see you again then.

—Shauna Roberts


KeVin K. said...

Solid advice, Shauna.

While you're right, anthologies tend to be less prompt in contacting you when you don't make the cut, two of my best experiences with editors were with anthology editors.

Both editors required revisions: Steven Savile on Destination Prague needed me to trim a novella by 6000 words to fit budget/space; John Helfers on Spells and Chrome needed stylistic tweaks and adjustments to better suit the tone he was going for. Both of them communicated their objectives clearly, made specific but not restrictive suggestions, listened to my counterpoints; in short professionals who treated me as a fellow pro.

And, yes, I'm still in contact with some of my anthology-mates.

If you write short fiction, follow Shauna's advice.

Shauna Roberts said...

KeVin, I've found that too—anthology editors are more willing to ask for changes to a story they like rather than reject it outright because it isn't perfect and also more likely to go back and forth rather than dictating what has to be done.

Liane Spicer said...

Very useful information, Shauna. I'll be looking into this.