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Participating in an Anthology Project

Collaborating to write an anthology can be very rewarding. Seeing your name in print one a story in a book is exciting if you’ve never been published before, even if you have. What does a project like this take to accomplish? That depends on who’s doing it, how it’s planned, and who cooperates.

In 2018 my local writing group, Lilac City Rochester Writers, held a short story contest with a specific word count required and deadlines. It was meant to be a money-making project so each entrant paid $8.00 per submission. I believe there was a group of four readers that decided on the winning stories using a point system. Three cash prizes were awarded. Most of the stories submitted were then organized and the group self-published the anthology.

The outcome was that a few people learned how to use Create Space, and the project netted little money for the group but we sure learned a lot. The book can be ordered from Amazon.


In 2019 the man who founded the Rochester Veterans Writing Group (RVWG) was unable to attend because he went back to college and then his work schedule kept him away. He had mentioned wanting to put our writings into an anthology more than once, so I proposed we gather our stories together, and even if we only had a folder of manuscripts, it would be a wonderful gift to give him. One of our guys went further and said he would do all the formatting so we could self-publish a book. “Book” talk started taking away too much time from our regular meeting format so a second monthly gathering was scheduled to work on the project. We worked as a team: voting on the title and its design, order of stories, dedication, and inclusion of bios with photos. We set deadlines that came and went, more than once. Members kept saying they wanted their works included, but they didn’t submit them. It came down to begging for the final submissions, but the project was completed and published in 2020. You can order this book on Amazon also. There are memoir stories from WWII through present-day and also home front experiences.

In early 2022, with the loss of our WWII vets in the past two years and the gain of new members, a vote was taken on whether we wanted to put together another book. The result was a unanimous yes. Currently, a different member from last time is working on collecting the personal stories for book 2. To show you our progress I’ll share his recent email.

Hello Everybody,

I have good news and bad news. The bad news ain’t so bad because each of you can help in turning that into good news too.

First, the good news:

I have compiled everything you and I have contributed so far—let me know if I’ve missed anything—into book-like form in one Word file. It comes to about 300 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 pages ( couldn’t for the life of me find a way to make the pages 6 x 9 in my version of Word, but I came close to matching the 6 x 9 formatting of the print on the pages).

I have given it all a pretty good first-time edit, and it should be in reasonable shape. I have not given much thought to the order of the stories nor filled in the Table of Contents. You’ll have to leaf through it yourselves to find what you want.

Now, the bad news:

177 of the 300 pages are occupied by stories from one Charles F. Willard and only 105 pages by everyone else. There is a clear imbalance here that badly needs remediation.

Here is the current story count by person:

Sue – 4, Joe – 3, Vaughn – 4, Suzanne – 1, John – 2, Lee – 5

Cindy – 1, Tim – 1, Dave – 2, Chuck – 28

By the way, in this file, I have included the stories from our 11/7/20 Eulogy to Bob Whelan. Your count includes those, so if you see a “1” after your name, that “1” is your only contribution so far.

I know you have more stories in you than the numbers above depict. Every month at our meetings, you show me that you do. (More bad news is: so do I!)  Convert all those stories you have to digital form and send them on to me. This is not a Willard memoir; it is an RVWG collaboration. So please get cracking.

To my fellow editors, Joe, Vaughn Lee, and Sue (Remember? You volunteered. Or was it I who volunteered you?) Please give this a look-see for any glaring issues. Also: Any stories you feel are not appropriate to include? If it’s one of yours, please send a replacement for it. We need content.

I know it is all a big time-consuming job, writing, and editing, so thanks in advance for your collective efforts. 

Here’s the file. Happy writing, happy editing.

Chuck

As you can see, Chuck is nicely requesting, cajoling, and even begging for cooperation. I’m glad there is a 4 after my name.

My suggestion if you want to put together an anthology with a group is to set deadlines and adhere to them. Or perhaps, say if there isn’t enough submitted in a timely manner, the project will be abandoned. It will save the compiler a lot of angst.

And, Chuck, he gave his family, and I as his “adopted” younger sister, a book about more of his experiences while a C-130 pilot in the Air Force for Christmas last year. I cherish it.

Please feel free to share your thoughts or questions in the comments.


About the Author

Sue Spitulnik was an Air Force wife from 1972 to 1979, living in multiple states and England. She now resides in her home state of New York with her husband, Bob, close to her children and their families. Sue has been a participant in the Rochester Veteran’s Writing Group since 2015 and is the current president of Lilac City Rochester Writers group. She has a story published in each group’s anthology. On her active blog, susansleggs.com, she publishes flash fiction written to the weekly prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary, where she interacts with fellow contributors. When she isn’t writing, Sue is creating with colorful fabric in her quilting studio, specializing in patriotic and t-shirt quilts.


34 Comments

  1. Congratulations. A project like this is always more work than you anticipate 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Jules says:

    All the best Sue. I’ve been on the end of helping to edit, as well as being inclued. I’ve also got some pending…

    I also hope the other ‘project(book)’ that you were working on finds completion and success as well!! 💖

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Good going! I am in an anthology on murder and music coming out in the fall!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi Sue, I enjoyed reading your thoughts about anthologies and participating in them. I have participated in 12 anthologies, 5 are horror short story collections and I helped to edit and compile one of them, 3 are paranormal collections, 1 is a murder mystery collection, 1 is a collection of memories about mother, and 2 are poetry collections which I helped to edit and compile. I have also contributed towards a writing reference anthology called Ask the Authors 2022 and have short stories coming out in 3 more anthologies this year. I like writing for anthologies. I meet other writers, meet new authors, and learn, learn, and learn.

    Liked by 2 people

    • SueSpitulnik says:

      Hi Robbie, Do you find short stories for anthologies get finished just because of their length? I agree, that meeting new authors and learning from each other is a definite plus to being involved in anthology projects. I am always amazed at how many stories you write while baking, working, and being busy with your family. You are an inspiration.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hi Sue, as a writer, I like short stories as they are shorter and more manageable to write. You can get one done and dusted in about 3 weeks with another few days of editing down the line. A full length novel is a huge investment of time and energy. From a reader POV, I think modern readers (especially the millennials) like shorter reads. Novellas and short stories are on the rise. Working people are as strapped for time as our parents were strapped for cash. Life is never easy, is it?

        Liked by 2 people

      • Charli Mills says:

        You have such a wealth of creative output, Robbie!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. These anthologies are so much work… Jules and I did a poetry anthology (journal) last year and this year, I’ll work with Charli to compile the second anthology for Carrot Ranch. But, for authors who want to get their work out there… I think this is all so worth it. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Congrats Sue. Your writing group is very talented. I had the opportunity to attend it once. I agree all should abide by the timeline rules to hit the publish button.

    Liked by 2 people

    • SueSpitulnik says:

      Thank you, Ruchira. My fellow fiction writers enjoyed meeting you during our Zoom read-aloud critique group. My veterans’ writing group doesn’t adhere well to deadlines, but we’ll get there in time.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Thanks for sharing these stories about successfully published group anthologies! Twice over the past 15 years, the writers group I belong to tried to publish an anthology. Both efforts failed because everyone wanted their piece to be published but no one wanted to pitch in and help make it happen. Even breaking things down into small sub-tasks didn’t help. It was very sad. But it’s encouraging to know that other groups have made it work.

    Liked by 2 people

    • SueSpitulnik says:

      I’m sorry your anthology didn’t come to fruition. It does take a concentrated effort to do all the formatting, keep changing the table of contents after an edit which made page numbers change, or the group deciding something should be added after all. Maybe one of your authors knows someone you could pay to put the project into a printable form. Good luck.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Charli Mills says:

      It’s a hard project for groups to take on collaboratively and a hard sell to publishers if a group doesn’t have anyone skilled to pull it off. It requires skillsets writers don’t always have. Keep your eye out, Jennifer. They can be lots of places for you to submit!

      Liked by 2 people

      • “collaboratively” is the operative word – I work in publishing and was happy to oversee everything and do a good chunk of the work, but no one was willing to contribute either time or money to see the project beyond the submission phase. We got a little further the second time, tried to organize things differently, but only a few authors remained interested and engaged once their piece was accepted. It has always been a nice group of writers, but they don’t seem to do collaboration very well.

        Like

  8. Norah says:

    What exciting projects. I hope the work pays off in the end. (with feelings more than money, though a little of that fairy dust is acceptable too).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I enjoyed reading this, Sue. I have participated in an Artisan anthology for the past seven years. And when I say participate, I mean I write and submit. I do not take part in the hard work I know it takes to bring everyone together, format, and publish. The behind the scenes people are amazing in my opinion.

    I didn’t see a link for the books, so have taken the liberty to add them here. I hope you don’t mind and I hope they work.

    Keep on keeping on. You write some pretty amazing stuff and I am glad to be able to read a lot of it here at the Carrot Ranch.

    Liked by 1 person

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