Hi, everyone. From time to time, someone does a blog about creating anthologies, and I’m going to do one now, because why not?
As many of you know, Andi Marquette and I are in the thick of putting together the follow-up anthology to All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Romance & Erotica. The new volume is called Order Up: A Menu of Lesbian Romance & Erotica.
We were very pleased at the submissions we received and found ourselves deliberating for a long time over which ones to accept. The unfortunate reality is that a book can contain only so many pages, and an anthology only so many stories. It’s often that case that an editor wishes that she could publish all (or most) of the stories she has received.
Choosing becomes a very difficult task when you’re faced with a stack of stories that you like. How do you make a decision? What do you look for?
There are a few obvious answers to those questions, and they are things to keep in mind if you’ve ever wanted to submit to an anthology or considered putting together one of your own:
Appropriateness to the theme—Sometimes people submit things that have nothing to do with the theme of the anthology.
Quality of writing—No matter how great the story idea is, if it’s not well executed, it won’t work.
Uniqueness of the idea—This is self-explanatory.
Adherence to the guidelines—This is important, because adherence to the guidelines shows that you have respect for the editor’s time and care enough to do it right. Some writers feel that they can submit a story any way they want, completely ignoring the guidelines that the editor/publisher has set up. Not only do you take the risk that it can’t be accepted (i.e., if it’s way too long), but you also risk pissing off the editor. Don’t assume that it’s okay to format your story in Comic Sans when the guidelines specifically say Times New Roman.
Now, if the only font on your computer is Comic Sans, send the editor a note telling them why the story is formatted in Comic Sans. That tiny bit of courtesy goes a long way. Andi and I had authors ask questions about the guidelines prior to submitting, and we were perfectly happy to accommodate those people, because they thought to ask first.
When we did Skulls & Crossbones a few years back, someone submitted a story that was too long. We rejected it on that basis and the author actually shot back a response, basically saying, “What’s the big deal? You can edit it down.” The big deal was that the guidelines clearly stated that the maximum was 5,000 words, you put “5,000” on the manuscript, but you lied because it was actually 6,000. And you got an attitude about it. That is just asking to be rejected. Well, sir, you got your wish.
In the end, final decisions sometimes come down to minor things, such as similarities in style or idea, or even some undefineable quality, or lack thereof. If you’ve ever watched Chopped, you know that getting bumped off the show sometimes comes down to the tiniest little thing, like a misplaced piece of parsley. It’s like that with anthologies, too. Regardless of the reasons, having to reject anyone is always the worst part of the project (unless you’ve pissed me off, then I’ll gladly reject you).
So, Order Up is going to be a fun project, as I knew it would be, and I’m very excited about seeing it published. Thanks to everyone who contributed. It was a pleasure reading your work. The book will be out in the spring, so keep an eye out for it.