Looking at the title, it could be taken a lot of ways, I guess, but for this article I plan to split two ways: four things publishers can do wrong when creating an anthology, and four ways writers can pretty much kill their chances of acceptance into an anthology.
1. Publishers need to stop putting out for-the-love anthologies and expecting them to sell well. Zero pay usually attracts newbie writers, and although newbie writers can at times write as well or better than emerging or even established writers, they don’t have the reputation to attract readership. To claim that an anthology that doesn’t pay will give writers exposure is, at best, wishful thinking.
2. Make sure that the anthology is a properly edited and proofed. If I had a dollar for every one-star review on Amazon citing terrible grammar and proofing as the reason someone couldn’t even finish the book, I could retire.
3. Spend as much (or more) on promotion after the release as is spent on the creation and promotion of the book pre-release. After it’s out, it’s really not going to sell itself unless you have a loyal fanbase, the antho contains NYT-bestselling authors, or you’ve made a deal at the crossroads.
4. Cover art: People say not to judge a book by its cover, yet that’s what we do. Great cover art draws the eye, and gets readers to stop for a second. This applies in brick-and-mortar bookshops as well as in online stores.
1. For God’s sake, read the flippin’ guidelines. If someone asks for Palatino 11pt, double spacing, with minimal formatting, don’t send something with fancy headers, hard returns, TABS, and other such frippery in Georgia 13pt.
2. Minimal formatting in a submission call means exactly that. Nowadays, in almost every word processing program, it is possible to set up styles that can be applied to text.
These styles can have 1st-line indents, font and font size, and line spacing automatically applied, so there is no hard formatting like TABS or spaces for indents.
Hard formatting just has to be stripped out during the layout phase anyway, so two equally-good stories will likely be judged on the clean or dirty state of the manuscript.
3. Grab the editor with the first sentence. Have them very interested by the first paragraph, and hook them without mercy by the end of the first page. Which leads us to the next point…
4. Start right in the action. Don’t start a short story with reference to the weather, or the lovely trees that grow on the gently-sloping area over past the burbling brook.
Action, conflict, character. Start with one of those three.
These are all opinions, of course, but I think you’ll find that they fit more often than not.
I don’t profess to be an expert on either of these fields. I have only been publishing anthologies for a year now, with three out, but they’re selling well. Cohesion Press is moving ahead, and we’re getting better and better each release.
As for the writing, I have been published a few times over the years, in paid (semi-pro) markets, but I am yet to crack the big pro-paying markets.
Cohesion Press is the brainchild of Geoff Brown, the past president of the Australian Horror Writers Association and owner-operator of Cohesion Editing and Proofreading.
We will be publishing anthologies, collections, novels, and novellas in ebook and print form.
Our plan is to offer the best contractual terms for our authors, encouraging, through Geoff’s network and contacts, some of the biggest names in the speculative fiction industry to publish with us.
As a result of gaining readership by offering quality fiction and non-fiction, it is our intention that our brand grows, garnering attention and promotion through our choices of who and what we publish.
This will benefit us and our authors. This will help us grow, together.
We will be soliciting work from authors, and we will also be opening up to unsolicited submissions at certain times throughout the year. Keep an eye on the site and our Facebook page for news.
Of course we will publish horror, but we are also looking to publish other forms of spec-fic, from fantasy to sci-fi and steampunk, as well as crime-noir, true-crime, and tales of addiction.
We will also publish unique tales of any genre on a case-by-case basis.
As we grow, as our readership and market share grows, so will our ability to open up to more and more genres.
We're here to stay.
G.N. Braun is an Australian writer raised in Melbourne’s gritty Western Suburbs.
He is a trained nurse, and holds a Cert. IV in Professional Writing and Editing, as well as a Dip. Arts (Professional Writing and Editing).
He writes fiction across various genres, and is the author of many published short stories. He has had numerous articles published in newspapers, both regional and metropolitan. He is the past president of the Australian Horror Writers Association (2011-2013), as well as the past director of the Australian Shadows Awards. He is an editor and columnist for UK site This is Horror, and the guest editor for Midnight Echo #9.
His memoir, Hammered, was released in early 2012 by Legumeman Books and has been extensively reviewed.
He is the owner of Cohesion Editing and Proofreading, and has now opened a publishing house, Cohesion Press.