You all might have seen and read some of the posts I’ve done on here and on my author Facebook page about an impending anthology that I had a short story in.
Past tense, yes. Keep reading.
This anthology came together late last year and I was super excited about it because I was looking to have another piece out in the world after Pearl, but I’m not a fast writer, so this offer seemed like a perfect solution. It would be my first experience with a publisher who isn’t me and I would be in the company of so many talented authors. Short stories take less time to write and I hadn’t written a short story since college, so it would be like using an old artistic muscle.
Well, things haven’t quite worked out. The authors are currently trying to decide on a solution.
As much as fiction writing is about inspiration and other twee sort of things, the publishing side is a business: is it selling? How can it be marketed? Who is the audience? There are contracts and clauses, marketing considerations, money and business obligations in publishing; this is the stuff I studied in grad school.
So: for authors, if you’re considering going into an anthology, it may be a worthwhile experience. It may expose your work to a new audience, you’ll make some new writer companions and contacts, it might stretch you as a writer.
BUT—as with everything in publishing, do your research. Check out the publisher. Ask questions. Make sure the communication is regular and business-like. Read that contract.
I cannot stress this enough: read every word, every clause. Make sure it’s in the right format and wording for a publishing contract. If you don’t understand something, find a legal adviser. Make sure your copyright reverts to you if something goes wrong. Make sure you can get out of the project if it goes south. Explore how the funds are to be distributed and how the publisher is permitted control over your work and your name.
As for me and the other authors: we’re considering other ways of getting our stories out there. I’m not hugely attached to my entry in the anthology; I think it needs a developmental editorial brush-up. It’s called “The Disappearance of Miss Mary Dawkins” and it’s about the mother of little Alexandra Keegan, one of the children in Pearl. To be honest, I haven’t actually read “Mary Dawkins” in several months. Though I’m not attached to it, I want it out in the world and not hanging over me like Eeyore.
Edited to Add:
The publisher finally resurfaced today on Facebook and wrote a pretty passive-aggressive status update saying the anthology was dissolved and she didn’t appreciate the “nasty correspondence” she’s been receiving as of late and she “didn’t want that nastiness on her shoulders.” Um, maybe if there was communication, this would’ve gone better? If the authors knew what was going on?