Friday, February 23, 2007

Breaking Into Anthologies

I've been reading lots of anthologies of non-fiction essays, including Twentysomething Essays, Death by Pad Thai, and Expat. Some of the essays are by established writers and some are from unknowns, but they're all great to read. Do you think you need to be agented to find these kinds of opportunities? How do other writers do it? Do they have an unpublished essay lying around or do they get asked to write one specifically for the anthology?

Funny, I just bought The Bitch In the House, so your question was timely. That said, I don't have the slightest idea. So...I turned to my fabulous and wise agent, who had this to say.

"A lot of times, the 'editor' of the anthology will send out a mass email, asking authors, usually published as it helps the chances for the book to be sold, for a commitment, a paragraph idea for how they would spin the anthology’s topic, and a bio. So, it certainly helps to be published in that topic and to be enmeshed in that world of writers.

I often have editors come to me and ask me if I have any authors who might be right for a story on X…and then I forward it on…but it’s not something I commission. It’s little money but a great way to build your platform.

I guess if the author is unpublished, a way to throw her hat in the ring would be to contact the editor of a previous anthology, via a fan letter (for example, Sally Wofford Girand has now worked on two) and get her name on editor's radar."


Oh, my agent, she's so brilliant!

Anyone out there ever contributed to an anthology? If so, how did it happen?

5 comments:

Amy Ettinger said...

I contributed to the anthology "The Secret Lives of Lawfully Wedded Wives"(July 2006). The editor, Autumn Stephens, had put together another collection I really liked and I emailed the publisher to find out if there were more anthologies in the works. The timing was perfect, because she was looking for marriage stories and I had one I wanted to sell.
Poets and Writers often lists ads for submissions as does Mediabistro.
The pay isn't great, but it's a nice way to raise your profile.

Joanne Mason said...

I wrote an essay about the Beatles' influence on my life for an anthology called "Tales of the Awesome Foursome." It's a collection of memories and reflections by die-hard Beatles fans edited by Linda Schultz. There was a DJ in Boston who did an all-Beatles show every weekend and Linda had him announce the fact that she was looking for contributors. The pay was only a copy of the book, but the piece was fun to write, the book was fun to read, and it was one of my first published pieces. (And maybe it'll help give me some credibility as a Beatles expert down the road!) : )

Susan said...

Thanks for answering my question, Allison! There's more where that came from... And congrats on Redbook!

Manic Mom said...

I tried to get an anthology published called Moms Gone Wild but no one wanted it! hee hee.

M. said...

I see calls for submissions for anthologies pretty frequently in various places--the pay ranges from copies to about $100, but it seems to be nice exposure. Haven't submitted anything to one yet.