Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tips for Compiling Writing Anthologies

by M. J. Joachim
Whether it’s short stories, poetry, essays or any other writing compilation, creating a collection of writing takes skill and cooperation from all parties involved. There’s a certain finesse and expertise required, to make each piece of writing stand alone, yet also belong to an eclectic book, designed to capture the audience from beginning to end.

It is necessary to first consider the word anthology, and understand its meaning. Simply put, it is a collection of writing. A more detailed explanation is that is is a collection of themed writing, the purpose of which is to gain exposure for one or more authors, via circulating their name and work; perhaps the purpose of this is because one or more authors are in the midst of a larger piece that isn’t ready for publication yet. Or maybe it is a way to market oneself, especially if he or she is relatively unknown in the publishing industry.

Anthologies are an excellent way to fill voids in niche markets, or promote causes that aren’t very renown. They’re a way to promote several authors simultaneously, or an individual author revealing certain skill sets. They’re also an enjoyable way to work with and get to know other authors.

How to Make an Anthology

There are several things to consider when compiling segments for an anthology. First and foremost is how to get enough people involved in the project. While it seems easy enough to create a mass social networking strategy calling all writers, this might not be the most efficient or best course of action, particularly if one of the goals is to develop and edit the completed project to perfection.

Creating a team is vital to the success of creating a first-rate anthology. Teams have leaders, contributors and volunteers who help ensure goals are clearly outlined, combined effort works effectively for the general good of the project, communication is related intelligibly, deadlines are met and everyone is satisfied with the project in progress and upon its completion. No one wants to participate in an anthology that is only 50% well written, and no one wants to spend time on a project doomed to fail.

Teamwork is as vitally important to making an anthology, as are leaders throughout the various stages of its development. As for individual writing and publishing, anthologies require writers, editors, illustrators, proofreaders and publishers. Team members may willingly take on one or more roles, as their talent and availability suggest. Leadership teams are as important, if not more important, than worker teams. Leadership teams set the standard for the anthology being produced, and it is up to them to make sure that standard is met. If it isn’t, they’re the ones who will be held accountable.

Regular meetings are required to guarantee the project is going as planned. Leaders may meet without workers and discuss necessary adjustments. Editors will likely communicate with each other as a team, and also with writers for various reasons. Sometimes it’s as simple as clarifying the work. Other times it might be more complicate, requiring authors to adjust their work, so it fits more closely within the theme. Illustrators will want their artwork to be cohesive throughout the anthology, so they too will have to work together and report to the leadership team, and possibly the editors too.

All things working for good, a good anthology should never be slapped together on a whim, tossed together without a second thought. Unequivocally, anthologies should be planned as much, if not more so, than any larger piece of solitary writing. The more people involved, the more scrutiny the anthology should require. Each writer’s reputation will be affected by the finished product, after all.

Steps for Writing Anthologies

Step 1: Decide on a theme.
Step 2: Create a leadership team.
Step 3: Determine who should contribute.
Step 4: Invite contributors to participate.
Step 5: Create other necessary teams for success and completion of project.
Step 6: Set deadlines for writing, including first drafts, second drafts, editing, proofreading, publishing.
Step 7: Stick to deadlines as much as possible, communicating necessary adjustments in a timely manner.
Step 8: Combine all works together in a sequential way that makes sense, developing chapters throughout the work as necessary.
Step 9: Follow all necessary legal steps, including copyright and ownership requirements, plus author releases, allowing you to publish their individual in the anthology freely.
Step 10: Submit or publish anthology and market it to reach as many people as possible.

Upon publication, all participants would be wise to seek out reviews and help promote the project. Since so much went into it, the finished anthology should be magnificent. If it is beyond reproach, a plethora of positive reviews will help it reach the top of the charts in no time at all, thus meeting the ultimate goal of selling as many books as possible, while letting all contributors reap the rewards of their labor.

As a reviewer, there’s nothing that saddens me more, than reading an anthology tainted with poor organization and shoddy work in some of the pieces. Anthologies are so much fun to read and it’s easy to give them great reviews, but only if the bar is set high, and all contributors reach their mark.

Thank you so much for visiting my writing blog today. I hope this article benefits you and makes you a more successful writer.

M. J.

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