Saturday, November 03, 2012

Maria Danforth Shares on the Pitfalls of Anthologies

Anthologies are a good way for writers to gain credibility, get exposure for their writing, make valuable new contacts and more. But they aren't trouble free as Maria Danforth points out in her essay on the  risks. If you have positive or negative anthology experiences to share, please leave them in the comments section.

The Pitfalls of Participating in Unvetted Anthologies

By Maria Danforth
 
When you get that acceptance letter that says your story is going to appear in a horror anthology collection, it's usually a cause for celebration. However, as any writer with a little experience under his or her belt knows that before you even consider giving up the rights to that dark little darling you've written you need to be sure that it's going somewhere you can trust.

New and Unvetted Anthologies

Lots of publishers, both big and small, and individuals put out anthology collections of one sort of another. It's a great way to capitalize on the love of short stories, it gets people to buy a new product and it ensures that lots of writers get a piece of the pie. However, if an anthology hasn't been up and running for some time there's every possibility that it could be a scam. And even if it's not a scam, there is every chance that your story will be taken and twisted, poorly edited and that your payment will be much delayed.

What are the Risks?
They are legion, but some of them are a bigger worry than others. For instance, one of the biggest concerns you should worry about as a newer writer is that the anthology you're submitting to is a fraud, or a vanity publisher. The second is much easier to deduce than the former. All you have to do is find out the name of the publisher that's running the anthology and see what its reputation is. Companies that fall into the same boat as Publish America and other, print-on-demand, publish-anything companies will be easy to spot because any author that's ever been burned will put up big, red warnings for anyone that's looking.

For out and out scams it's harder to tell just what it is you're looking at. However, if the "anthology" asks for a fee for you to be included, flatters you with generic praise for your story (even to the point that it doesn't mention the title), or the description focuses more on what the final volume will look like than what the content will be, you should be very suspicious. This goes double for anthologies for new companies, or for companies that are running a first year anthology. This is not to say you shouldn't take a risk as a writer if it looks legitimate, but if it's more concerned with you paying a fee or selling you the dream of being in a leather bound edition, you might want to move on.

Professionalism Issues
Even anthologies that aren't out and out scams can still give authors fits with how unprofessional they are. For instance, an anthology could accept your story and then change around your sequence of events, alter the names of your main characters or even re-write the ending. A professional anthology won't do that, and it would never even contemplate doing so without your express permission as the writer, but it can and has happened in the past.

Even if a company doesn't completely re-write your story, making it something unrecognizable from the source material, there is still the chance that you have to deal with unprofessional or amateur editors. For instance, you should always make sure that you will get a final version of your story and how it will appear in the anthology. If edits will be made then you should have the chance to see and approve them. So before you sign over your story to an unvetted anthology and hope for the best, you need to ask a few pointed questions to see what will happen once you've signed off.


~Maria Danforth writes about blogging, literature & more at http://creditreport.org.
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use the little Green widget to let them know about this blog:

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