I was recently asked to contribute to an anthology, for charity, and while I did pull out a horror WIP that I’d started a few months ago, I had a lot of questions before I kinda/sorta committed.
See, while having short stories “out there” can help build your reputation, sometimes things don’t go according to plan. A poorly executed E-book, let alone a paperback, can, at best, receive no reviews and no sales. At the same time, it can even be the target of bad reviews—perhaps not your story, per se, but if any are not up to par, you can bet a reader will fixate on that one.
And those reviews go on your author page.
There are definitely some things one should consider when submitting to anthologies of any kind:
- Who’s in charge?Some people think that “anyone” can be an indie author or publisher; websites make it so simple, right? But the truth is that there are a lot of details to handle and typically that first book needs some tweaking. Then, too, the person/people who are acting as the “publisher” may simply not know what they’re doing . . . or be able to agree. One person or several? How will that work? Who takes care of quality control and do they have any experience?
- Is there a contract? A legally binding one? You may be told that you retain all rights, but was that a conversation or something in writing? It doesn’t have to be a formal contract, but rights should always be clarified.
- Who’s registering the copyright? For the entire anthology, as in a “collection?” Or you, yourself, for your own submission?
- How are payments made? The one I was contacted about is, as I said, for charity, so I wouldn’t see a dime—and that’s fine, if you know how your particular antho will work. Some anthos pay in copies, some pay a small stipend; you just need to know upfront.
- Price of the book. E-book or Kindle, will that book be priced to sell or will it be too high, in order to accommodate all the royalties that must be paid? If the price is low, or even competitive, will you actually earn anything?Let’s look at a $3.99 Kindle book:If a publisher pays out 50% of the retail price in royalties, then each author earns 10 cents per sale. You know the word count on your story, do the math. At a 70% royalty rate, that book will earn $2.79 per sale. Let’s assume, too, that there are 20 authors contributing to this anthology. That means, for each book sold, each of those authors receives 14 cents—and that’s if the book is done cooperatively, not via publisher. Maybe that’s okay with you. For authors who are just beginning, being published in anthologies can help get your name out there—as long as it’s a good book. For many, just seeing one’s name in print can be a thrill.
- Who’s doing the cover? Will it be hideous? Will it end up on LousyBookCovers.com? You likely won’t have any say in this—imagine trying to get 20 contributors to agree on a cover . . .
- Who’s doing the formatting? Will it be professional quality?
- Who’s editing? Can this person spell and punctuate? Can he or she recognize flow and check consistency?
- And finally, promotion. Of course you want to promote this book, your name is in it—is anyone else involved, besides the authors? Especially since you’ll be earning pennies, you’ll want to get as many sales as possible; otherwise, having another author credit to your name is worthless. Where will the books be sold? Besides Amazon, I mean.
I’m not saying “don’t do an anthology.” Heck, RHP just opened Harness Anthologies a couple months ago. But do be aware of what you’re getting into and do it for the right reason—to expand and build upon your platform. Don’t expect to earn much, and don’t get carried away with submitting. As nice as it is to add another book to your author page, it’s much better for your long-term career to have several solid titles to your credit alone.
And better for your wallet, too.