Writer Wednesday—Anthologies

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. Who’s registering the copyright? For the entire anthology, as in a “collection?” Or you, yourself, for your own submission?
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 . . .
  7. Who’s doing the formatting? Will it be professional quality?
  8. Who’s editing? Can this person spell and punctuate? Can he or she recognize flow and check consistency?
  9. 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.

RHP—New Division, New Imprints!

Some of you may have heard, via social media, that RHP is expanding. Yay, us! We just brought out two new imprints, and added staff!

First, we will now be listing all of our literary fiction under the imprint Equidae. Oh, it’s still Rocking Horse Publishing, never fear, but we’re at the point now where we can specialize a bit. The release of The Fires of Waterland gives us two lit-fic titles, as Danny’s Grace will be moved to Equidae as well.

What the heck does that even mean? Glad you asked. “Equidae” is the Latin term, as in taxonomy, for “a family of perissodactyl ungulate mammals including the horses, asses, zebras, and various extinct related mammals,” as per Webster’s.

Second, since we have had such success with Spirits of St. Louis: Missouri Ghost Stories, we’ve opened up a new division/imprint for anthologies.

Our intent is to publish four books per year, beginning in 2015, under Harness Anthologies. Shannon Yarbrough, author extraordinaire, will be the director.

Here are the details:

Harness Anthologies 2015 Season 1

Publication Date: January 2015

Payment: Two Copies

Solstice: A Winter Anthology

Winter vacation, snow cream, snow days from school, building snowmen, snowball fights, snow storms, the first time you or your child saw snow. Give us your best white memory! All things winter and snow related. Fiction or nonfiction accepted. Also accepting original winter poems and winter recipes.

Stories should be 750 to 2500 words.

Poems and recipes should be limited to one page.

Open to Submissions: September 2014


Publication Date: April 2015

Payment: Two Copies

Empty Nests: Parents, Old and New

Springtime is the time of year when birds start building nests and laying their eggs. It’s a time of rebirth, now that winter is over. The snow has melted and flowers are sprouting. Life is anew. Empty Nests is an anthology for parents and about parents. Whether you are building your nest for your newborn baby, or you are finding yourself in an empty nest now that your teens have gone off to college or moved out.

Stories can be fiction or nonfiction, but should focus on adults either preparing to be parents or finding their own children turning into adults and moving out. What makes your nest, now full or empty, a home? Inspire the parents around you.

Stories should be 750 to 2500 words.

Open to Submissions: January 2015


Publication Date: July 2015

Payment: Two Copies

The American Dream: Then and Now

Seeking short nonfiction essays from teens to baby boomers. Teens: What is your American dream? For the older generation, what was your American dream?

It is said that society has killed the American dream just in the last decade. If that is true, what killed your American dream? Tell us in 500 words or less about what your American dream is now or what it was for you when you were growing up. Include your real age.

Real names and ages will be published unless you wish to remain anonymous.

Essays should be 25 to 500 words.

Open to Submissions: April 2015


Publication Date: October 2015

Payment: Two Copies

Spirits of St. Louis: Missouri Ghost Stories Volume II

Rocking Horse Publishing is proud to present Volume II of its bestselling anthology. The paranormal has deep-rooted history on the banks of the Mississippi, and Missouri is well known for its haunted past. In this volume, we focus just on St. Louis ghost stories. Under the Arch, on the Delmar Loop, in the Central West End, near the Soulard district, around every corner you turn there might just be a ghost waiting. Stories can be fiction or nonfiction.

Stories should be 750 to 2500 words.

Open to Submissions: July 2015