Writing An Anthology
An anthology is a published collection of literary works containing short stories, poems, songs and other things. It was very common to collate anthologies about poems and music in the earlier years. However, since the twentieth century, anthologies have become an important subset in the publishing industry for several reasons. Firstly, during the world war era, more and more people preferred to read short and engaging stories over long-form novels. Publishers found anthology a great way to build recognition of an author.
It was brought by an identifiable group of “next-generation” writers & publishers who realised the advantages of writing an anthology, most of which still hold true to this date! Here are some of the top reasons why you should write a collection of stories today:
- One book, many people:
Anthology is the only form of book writing in which numerous people can come together to write about anything and everything they like! This gives more stories for the readers than ever before.
- Right Exposure:
Since you are writing different stories in one book, it will help sharpen your writing skills. It is also one of the most foolproof ways to kickstart creativity in any author.
- Larger reading audience:
Since most anthologies are short stories, more people tend to read an anthology due to its short reading time. It is also the perfect book for people who are just getting into the habit of reading. Since it targets a variety of readers, it naturally brings more profits and hence more and more writers choose to collaborate and write an anthology.
Rules to keep in mind while writing your anthology:
- Read other books to gain insights:
Nothing can help you as much as a good book. One of the best ways to kickstart writing an anthology is just to read books. Understanding the writer’s decisions, their writing style, tone, narration and overall theme will give you an overview of what you should write in your books.
Here are some of the best anthology books;
- Skeleton King – By Stephen King
- The Things They Carried – By Tim O’Brien
- Interpreter of Maladies – Jhumpa Lahiri
- Dangerous Visions – Harlan Ellison
- A Thousand Beginnings & Endings – Ellen Oh, Elise Chapman
- Select a theme/genre
If you have read through the above anthology books, the one thing you will find common in all the books is a structured theme and a well-established genre. Since it is an anthology, you can make the theme as specific or random as you want. For example, your theme can be about a broad topic like “Letters for the departed soul” or you can go very specific like “Letters for the departed sibling”.
Remember that a writer can write about one theme in various genres. Hence, decide the genre of your book beforehand to ensure uniformity; or like the great Ernest Hemingway once said,
“There are no rules in writing. There are useful principles. Throw them away when they’re not useful. But always know what you’re throwing away.”
- Choose your writer base
An anthology is most often a collaborative work between authors. Writing your book with a like-minded set of writers will help design the layout of the book more efficiently and assist in marketing the book.
The more the writers, the larger your reader base.
So, make sure you join writing groups, attend book fairs with your local artist community. Spread the word that you’re writing an anthology book and announce open entries. Take advantage of social media marketing and promote this as an event amongst your writing groups.
Although this is very time-consuming, it is one of the easiest and budget-free ways to find your writer. Once you find your writers for the books, the process will be a lot smoother!
- Frame Guidelines for the book
Once you finish deciding the theme and your writer base, the next step is to set a few ground rules for the success of your book.
- A word count – If you’re writing an anthology, it is of absolute importance to establish a word count based on the number of stories you will write. An ideal anthology story has about 2500-3000 words.
- Realistic Timeline – Whether you are working with a group of members or on your own, set a fixed timeline for every story and adhere to it. This will help bring out your creativity in unexpected ways!
- Publishing Method – Weigh your options between traditional and self-publishing options and choose the most profitable one.
- Writing Method – Once you decide the theme of your book, writing guidelines regarding the tone, writing style and formatting will ease the process of editing your manuscript.
- Legal Details – This especially applies especially for anthology books with multiple writers. You need to write clear rules about royalties, payments and copyrights.
And voila! Pick up your pen and paper, because you’re all set to write a book!
- Formatting, Editing & Marketing
After writing, the last step in completing and publishing an anthology is looking into all the nitty-gritties!
Collate all the stories in a structured manner and ensure an overall flow in your book while maintaining each story’s significance. If you’re writing with a collective, ensure credits are given where it’s due.
The next thing is to ensure you proofread and edit your book. That includes checking grammatical errors, ensuring that your book has a uniform writing style & tone. It is only human to overlook a few errors despite editing and formatting. Hence, give your book to someone who has never read it to gain a fresh perspective while editing.
Publishing & Marketing
Choosing between traditional and self-publishing methods is a very crucial step before actually publishing your books! Traditional publishing is where an established publishing company buys rights to your book after an extensive series of scrutinising and checking. On the other hand, self-publishing is a carefree method where you are not under any rules or deadlines. The editing, proofreading and marketing are entirely on you!
While traditional publishing helps in marketing your books and give you a better reach, you often have to spend a lot of money for very little reach.
Hope this helps you take your first step towards writing an anthology. While the process can be quite a hassle, it’s always worth the wait. So keep writing every day.