Tuesday, August 17, 2021

11 Reasons Why You Should Submit Your Short Stories to Anthologies

By Rayne Hall, @RayneHall

Part of the Focus on Short Fiction Series

JH: Submitting a short story to an anthology has a lot of benefits. Rayne Hall shares 11 reasons why you should give one a try.

Getting short stories published in anthologies (collections of stories by multiple authors) can be a big stepping stone in your fiction writing career.

Here are the reasons why you should try:

1. As a Yardstick

If an anthology editor selects your story, it proves that your writing is good enough to be published. New writers can't judge the quality of their own writing, and friends and family aren't unbiased judges either. So if an independent editor chooses your piece over others, it confirms that your writing has reached an important threshold. Of course, some anthologies have higher standards and are more difficult to get into than others. While getting accepted by any anthology is great for a novice, seasoned writers will seek to get into one of the top anthologies of their genre.

2. For Validation

If you have indie-published (self-published) your novel, other people may think you did this because your writing isn't good enough to be selected by a publisher's editor. You can silence them by pointing out the short stories you've had had accepted and published in anthologies. This also washes away any self-doubts you may harbor.

3. To Get Known in the Genre

Most anthologies focus on one genre, and get read by that genre's avid fans. When your story is included in an anthology, it gets exposure to genre fans, i.e. people who love the kind of fiction you write. This is exactly the audience you want. While reading an anthology, most readers take note of which stories are their favorites, and look for more fiction by those authors. Those who enjoyed your short tale will want to read a whole book by you. This leads to an increase of sales for your book (assuming that you have one published) , and builds a fan base which is invaluable for your writing career.

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4. For a Long-Term Success

Unlike periodical publications (magazines, e-zines, newspapers) which get published and then forgotten, anthologies are books which continue to exist. Most e-books remain published forever. Paperbacks, even if they are out of print, will remain in people's book cases and get sold second-hand. This means that the stories contained in anthologies will get read again and again, constantly reaching new audiences. For writers seeking to build an author brand and gain recognition, anthologies work better than periodicals.

5. To Publish a Story More than Once

Most anthologies accept reprints (i.e. previously published stories). This means you can submit your tale over and over and see it published more than once. Great stories often get published five, ten, or even a hundred times. With each publication, the story gets new readers, and your reputation grows.

6. To Earn Money

Anthology contributors get paid for the use of their story. Top anthologies pay several hundred dollars for a previously unpublished tale. Most anthologies pay less - indeed, many offer just a token payment of $5 or so - but money always comes in handy, and it's a great feeling to get paid for your writing. Remember that you may sell a story more than once, so the payments can add up.

(Here’s more with People Get Arrested for Exposure (A look at "For The Luv" Anthologies)) 

7. To Network with Genre Authors

Once your story has appeared in an anthology, it's worth getting in touch with the other contributors. You may decide to promote the anthology together, to guest on each other's blogs, share each other's social media content, write a story together as co-authors, share a stall at a genre convention, exchange manuscript critiques, share market information and more. Networking with authors in your genre has many benefits.

8. To Get Social Media Followers

Most anthologies include an 'About the Author' paragraph. If you mention your Facebook, Twitter etc. ID, readers who loved your story will follow you. They may tell you how much they loved your story (and getting fan mail feels wonderful), and they will see your social media posts about your books and more.

9. To Boost your Book's Exposure

Major bookselling sites like Amazon give more exposure to authors of multiple books, for example with 'Other Books by this Author' displays. As a contributor to an anthology, your name will be listed as one of the authors which makes you immediately an author with multiple books and boosts your exposure. It also provides a new publication which will keep your author name at the front of the algorithms. (Make sure that your author name is listed on sales sites. You may have to ask the publisher to include it.)

10. To Extend Your List of Published Books

When readers search for your name on sites like Amazon, they'll be impressed to see a long list of books. Subconsciously, readers assume that an author with a lot of published books must be successful, and therefore must be good. Every anthology inclusion immediately lengthens your list of published books by one title.

11. To Impress with Publishing Credentials

If you seek the corporate (traditional) publishing path for your novel, it's great if you can say in your query letter to literary agents and publishers 'My stories have been published in X, Y and Z anthologies.' This shows that other editors have deemed your work worthy of publication, and encourages editors and agents to take a closer look at your offering than they normally would.

Of course, some anthologies are better than others, more difficult to get into but paying more and providing more prestigious publication credits.

Do you enjoy reading anthologies? Have you ever discovered a new author this way? Share your experience in the comments section.

Have you had stories published in anthologies? Post a comment to tell us about them.

Rayne Hall is the author of over seventy books, mostly fantasy, horror and non-fiction. Her books have been published by several publishers in several countries, and translated into several languages. A trained publishing manager with more than thirty years’ experience in the industry, she also publishes her own books and champions indie-publishing for authors. She is the editor and publisher of the Ten Tales short story anthologies.

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  1. Thanks for featuring my article. :-)

  2. Great article, Rayne. I really think that 3, 7, and 11 seem to be where my focus is on stort stories in anthologies. At some point, instead of me having to search for anthologies, I'd love to be well known (and liked) enough to have editors requesting stories from me. Networking is the key there. :)

    1. Yes, networking helps - but I wouldn't say it's the key. Unless editors love your stories, they won't request stories from you. So the key is, I think, to write really good stories, and get them published in good anthologies which are open to submission. Once that's accomplished, editors may ask you to submit to their anthologies, and that's where networking can accelerate things.

  3. When I first began writing, I hadn't given submitting my work to anthologies a lot of thought. I didn't realize, for example, that most anthologies accepted reprints. or how having a story in an anthology would boost my exposure on Amazon. Thank you, Rayne. You've given me a lot to think about!

    1. Yes, many anthologies accept reprints. Not all, but many. You may be able to place some of your stories in several anthologies.

  4. Aa always great advice, Rayne. Anthologies gave me leg up on publishing both fiction and non fiction and I credit your help on that!

    1. Inclusion in anthologies can give a leg-up to authors in many ways. I'm glad it has worked for you.

  5. And for confidence. It makes a difference to the outlook to have someone you don't know say they like what you do. All the other points count, but confidence is a big boost to continuing as an author.

    1. I would say that this is related to points 1 and 2 - a yardstick that your writing is 'good enough', and validation in your own eyes. But I agree, confidence is important and could be a point in its own right.

  6. Good advice! Any advice as to where can one publish short stories?

    1. If you want to get short stories published in anthologies, submit to anthologies which are currently open to submissions in that genre and with that theme. If you want to publish the stories yourself, aim to publish a themed collection.

  7. Thank you for this article, Rayne! I've had great experiences publishing in anthologies and would add this as a personal positive: it motivates me to put a story in writing that may not otherwise come to be. I've written for anthologies including military, holiday-themed, self-help, travel, and historical fiction, so good opportunities to expand from my books' YA genre.

  8. I would add one more reason: to experiment. It's important for writers to always challenge themselves to try new things, but you don't want to experiment with novels because of the investment of time they require (if a novel doesn't ultimately work, you've wasted a lot of time, whereas, if a short story doesn't work, you haven't wasted anywhere near as much).