By: KJ Scrim
Having your work published in an anthology is a great way to expand your writing horizons and add another notch on your writing resume. Most anthologies are open to everyone, no matter if they are a seasoned professional or just getting started.
Submitting to an anthology is, in general, simple.
- Write a story – be sure it is well written, grammatically correct, and it fits the theme.
- Find an anthology open for submissions
- Have a cover letter or query just in case
- Read and follow every step of the guidelines
- Hit that submit button
Simple, right? Now, let’s look at each step in more detail.
WRITE A STORY
There are two basic ways to write your story. You can either write the story you love, then find an anthology that fits it, or write a story specifically for a themed anthology. I have found the latter is somewhat easier to write for. If you have a story already written, the hunt for a matching theme is tedious.
FIND AN ANTHOLOGY
Finding the perfect anthology for an already written story can be, as I said, painstaking unless you use a couple of tools to help with your search. Like anything in this digital world, searching on the internet is a good first step. A few other resources that you can use are online data bases like Duotrope, Submittable, or New Pages. Be aware that some of these require a monthly fee.
Easier yet, is to do the same search but read what they are looking for and write to the theme. This can be a great exercise to expand your skills as a writer and increase your diversity.
COVER LETTER OR QUERY
Not all anthologies require a cover letter or a query, but if they do, I suggest you have this ready to go. You may find that perfect publication only to learn their deadline is in an hour. If you already have a cover letter written you won’t have to put yourself through any unnecessary stress.
READ THE GUIDELINES
I’d like to put this in huge letters, all caps, highlighted, and in red ink. READ THE GUIDELINES!! No matter how many times you read the guidelines, read them again until you have precisely what they editors want. If your story only “kind of” fits the theme, don’t send it until you have made the necessary rewrites, so it fits perfectly. If they say, “no gratuitous gore”, take the time to do a simple rewrite to remove any unwanted portions. If the guidelines specifically want the metadata removed, get it out of there. Check and double check your submission to be sure it meets every point the guidelines make. These steps are a sure way to avoid the reject pile on the first pass.
HIT THE SUBMIT BUTTON
STOP! Don’t hit submit quite yet. No matter how sure you are of a submission this is the stage of no return. Once you hit that submit button, it is gone. There is no turning back. Take a deep breath and review the submission guidelines one more time. Open your story and re-check it for typos and grammar one more time. Check the formatting one more time. Review your query one more time. You will be surprised at what you might find that you missed the first 50 times you went over everything.
Once your story is in the hands of the editors. BE PATIENT. Most publications will send an auto response saying they received your submission so trust that they did get it. If you haven’t heard back from them by the deadline set, then it is ok to inquire what the status is. Until then, maintain a level of professionalism by sitting on your hands and waiting. Some publications can take up to six months to let you know if you have been accepted, others just a few months. The best way to pass the time while you wait? Write more stories and submit them on a regular basis then repeat. Time will fly.
Having your work included in an anthology is rewarding to say the least. Following these easy steps will help you stay out of the reject pile and get your work read. You never know, you might find yourself published alongside someone you admire.
Kathie “KJ” Scrim, Managing Editor of PPW’s blog and Co-Editor of Fresh Starts (PPW’s first anthology), is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her inspiration for blogging, flash fiction, short stories, and the long haul of novel writing comes from her many life experiences. When she’s not writing you can find her somewhere in Colorado walking, hiking, or rock climbing at the local gym.