My recent venture (adventure or mis-adventure, depending on how you look at it) with writing comes in the form of an anthology.
In principle, anthologies are fun. You get to write a short story which I love writing as there’s an almost instant gratification in writing them. Unlike a full length that takes months (sometimes years to finish), a short story can take as little as a few weeks to finish. You also get to work with people that have the same writing interests as you. And if you’re lucky, you get to do an anthology with friends (which I did).
But anthologies can be a major pain in the neck. And I won’t lie, our latest Writing Wenches was a pain in my neck. There’s a lot that goes into writing and publishing a book that the average reader never gets to see–from the brainstorming, to the outline, to the critique stage, to the editing, then back to critiquing, then editing again, followed by line edits, then if you’re very, very close you get your beta reader lined up, then if you’re doubly lucky, there would be little to edit. And so voila! You have your finished story. But then there’s the cover, the formatting, the synopsis, the marketing. Imagine then that you have to do this ten times over with each story. So you get the gist.
The last anthology I was involved in, it was all fun for me. I wrote, I gave my story to the editor, I followed directions and suddenly I was holding my book in my hand. In this one, I was far more involved. I worked quite a bit behind the scenes including nagging, threatening and scolding people. I’m sure quite a bit of my writer friends wanted to block me. I was not a nice person.
So what did I learn from this anthology?
- Patience. Buckets of it. Not because the writers were being difficult but because people have lives. They have different priorities with conflicting schedules so you have to have a lot of patience trying to make sure everyone meets deadlines, and every one follow guidelines.
- Patience. Ok. I’m cheating here but its so very, very important. Otherwise, you’d need a new pancreas from the constant drinking, and hair pulling.
- Knowing the writing styles of each writer. For an anthology to be successful, the writers must have the similar writing style, and preferably in the same genre. They don’t have to be exact but close would be good. For instance, our current anthology is romance oriented but there’s one which falls under LGBT genre, and fantasy. Different but still in the same universe.
- Everyone has to pull their own weight–from the writer to the editors, to the beta readers, and cover designer. A writer doesn’t simply write, they have to communicate to the editors, to the other writers, and even to the cover designer to make sure their work is represented by a single image.
- Deadlines? Make sure to add a few weeks to that deadline. Because, well, things happen.
- You will get mad at each other. Prepare for hurt feelings and frustration but be a grown-up. Writing is usually a solitary endeavor. Not when writing an anthology so big girl panties must always be on. Fortunately, the Writing Wenches understand this, and no one holds a grudge because we’re friends and professionals. We understand what goes into getting a book done.
I make publishing an anthology positively difficult. So why do it? The same reason we do write and publish books, because it brings us joy.