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A Short Story Anthology?

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

What do you do with your short stories when they've been written and edited and polished and, if things go well, published? What happens to them afterwards? I've built up quite a few like that, now, and they pretty much just sit there on my hard disk trying to attract my attention. Hey, remember me? You loved me once! You thought I was the best thing ever!!

Occasionally one might resurface in an anthology or something. Mostly they just sit around jawing about the good old days, before all these hotshot new stories came along. So what's to do?

In fact, it's completely obvious isn't it? Don't know why I didn't think about it sooner. Actually, I blame Joe Romel, for a comment he (very kindly) left on one of my posts a while back. Have you considered putting together a collection of your short work? Seems like you've sold more than enough to fill a book. And I say, um, no, and move on. Except the idea sticks in my mind. Then I'm sitting there reading Cate Gardner's fantastic (in all senses) collection of her work one evening (Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits). Then there's my firiend Sue and her recent collaborative short story anthology, Triclops. And I suddenly see : I could do the same.

So, an eReader anthology of previously published short stories. Print, too, maybe. Sounds like a whole bunch of fun. And work. But mostly fun. I think it has to be. I've dipped my toe in the water previously with an ePublished short story or three, but an anthology would be way coolerer. It would be like, a book. Just need a neat title like Cate's. And some great artwork. And to choose the stories ...

Which, actually, could be an issue. Regular readers will know I generally shun genre boundaries. What, I have to choose? Like, forever? Some of my favourite stories are fantasy, some are definitely SF, some are mainstream (I'm gritting my teeth just typing that), some are magic realist or slipstream or dark fantasy. They're all just stories as far as I'm concerned. I want to include them all.

But maybe that's completely naive of me. Maybe creating a single collection of such disparate tales just doesn't make sense. What would you call it? How would you market it? Who would want to read it?

I don't know - but I'd be grateful for any views. Would a genre-spanning antho even work or should it be a case of Volume 1 : Fantasy? Love to know what you think ...


  1. This is a great idea, Simon. I've seen lots of single collections incorporating both SF and Fantasy, so no problems there.

    My feeling is that if you've got enough stories, a volume of SF, and a volume of Fantasy would be ideal.

    But if not, a collected Imaginings of Kewin, would also work.

    Are you going straight to e-publishing or are you going to shop it around the trads, first?

  2. While I say "YAY"!!! for your anthology to be (that of course you will put together asap!!), I'm wondering about the copyright thing. When your stories are published in other sites, e-mags etc were there restrictions for publication elsewhere later? Or something like that! Just wondered! GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. I think an antho is a great idea! And I personally think one that spans genres is much more interesting.

    When I buy a CD, I get really disappointed if it sounds like the same song over and over. I like variety.

    Can you include different genres? If so, I say go for it!

  4. Simon, I'd say, choose your best stories and do it, but check the copyrights first. Why not? It will give you a buzz to see them all in solid form as a retrospective. Don't worry about mixing genres - all the pieces are unmistakably in your style - and it's good to have a choice of length and content when you're wanting a complete story to read. If you want some help with the cover, you know where to find me...

  5. It's a great idea, Simon. And I'd go for mixing genres, or at least for grouping stories by some other criterion, such as theme or mood.

  6. Deborah,

    Thanks for the encouragement and advice. To be honest I hadn't thought about hitting the trads with it. I guess I just assumed short story anthologies are less marketable than novels, but maybe it's worth thinking about that. Hmm, food for thought!

  7. Old Kitty,

    Thanks for the enthusiasm! But, yes, you're right to sound a note of caution. I'd need to make sure I have the rights to each story.

    Sometimes a contract specifies that stories can't be reproduced elsewhere for a certain time so there might be stories I couldn't include for a while. Hmm. There's always volume 2!

  8. Words Crafter,

    A thousand thanks for your input. I like variety too I must admit. So, yes, I could certainly include different genres (and "no genre"). A lot of fantastic encouragement here - I'm definitely veering towards a multi-genre volume!

  9. Sue,

    Thanks, much appreciated. Genre boundaries - pah, who cares about them?

    Artwork : yes, that's a huge issue. I may well be in touch! SF = giant spaceships. Fantasy = dragons. Literary = moody cityscapes. So, a dragon and a spaceship in combat over the London skyline ...

  10. Thanks, Thomas. Seems like everyone is cool about mixing genres - which pleases me very much, I must say.

  11. I applaud this idea whole-heartedly (because I plan to do something similar in a few years), and I think there are various routes you could take. I like the idea of a "collected works" with all different genres, but genre-specific collections might sell better for audiences who like to pigeon-hole what they read.

  12. I expect nothing less than a dedication! :D Okay, but seriously, thanks for the nod. I still think it's a great idea.

    As to whether you should go with one genre or many, I can't say. I suppose my instinct would be to go with just one, but what do I know? My advice would be to do some market research; go to Amazon and other booksellers and see what collections are selling.

    For whatever it's worth, I have heard that anthologies are harder to sell than novels, at least when it comes to pitching to agents and publishers.

  13. Milo,

    Thanks for the input. I think I'm veering towards a genre-blind collection. People can download or ignore as they wish!

  14. Joe,

    Thanks for the advice - and for the original prompt, of course. I'll keep you all posted on progress.

  15. I like this idea, too - something I've considered doing but not for a bit yet.

    As a reader, I wouldn't mind a mix of genres, especially if they're all short pieces - I can pick and choose and try different ones, like a genre buffet. :)

    You could also categorize them within the anthology itself - Part I: Fantasy, Part II, etc.

  16. Thanks, Madeline, very encouraging. You know, "Genre Buffet" might even be an interesting title!

  17. "Kewin's Genre Buffet! All You Can Eat! Spicy Sci Fi... Fragrant Fantasy..."

    Okay, I'm done. I think I better go eat dinner. I'm suddenly hungry...either that or I need to go read a good book. :)

  18. Sounds like a great project. Why not?

    Are any of them long enough to publish alone? Many are going that way, too. Something to think about.

  19. I would say to go for it. It's something I am planning to do with a collection of my sci-fi short stories in the future, when I have the time.

    At the very minimum I think you need to do the following:

    Decide on a genre (I know you dislike this option, but readers will want to know what they're getting).

    Research possible publishers - e-book AND print. Why not offer people a choice?

    Have a professional cover done for it.

    Lastly, get an editor/proofreader to check it first, just in case there are any glaring mistakes.

    Hope that help!

    Ellie Garratt

  20. M Pax,

    Some are long enough to be stand-alone - eg. the ones I've already tested the water with - but I'm thinking a more substantial collection would be good to have out there. It's also relatively less work. I don't need to sort out artwork for each story then.

  21. Ellie,

    Thanks for the great advice. Makes a lot of sense. I'm basically going to start collating the list of stories I'd like to reproduce, then see how many there are of which genres.

    Artwork and proofreading : great points, definitely. Thanks.

  22. First off, if you have a repository of short stories currently not being used and you have enough of them to turn into an anthology then of course you should anthologise.

    As for genre I see no problem in presenting a mixed bag if a mixed bag is what you've produced.

    If you were a single genre author you'd now be holding a selection of single genre stories to go in a single genre book.

  23. Whirlochre - thanks. A mixed bag it shall be, I think!


I'd love to know what you think.