By Carolyn Wilhelm
Are you in a writing group or collecting stories for possible inclusion in an anthology? I have assembled collections from writing groups and have a few tips for such a process. This information is intended for self-publishing and sole owner of small publishers.
1. First, I suggest the group or contest organizers decide whether or not to have a theme before any stories are considered. One group I worked with entitled their anthology “bits and pieces” and accepted a wide variety of writing pieces. The result was an eclectic collection of short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. Another group decided to use the theme of adoption, and all the pieces were centered around the theme. Think to yourself which title might attract more readers, and why you think so.
2. Decide on a single word processing program such as Word, Google Docs, or Scrivener for everyone to use. Unfortunately, when I said yes to one of these projects, I received stories in all three formats, which led to difficulties. Think about the fact most of the people will have different types of computers and different ages of software. There will be some challenges, even if everyone uses the same word processor. Try to minimize the problems in this area.
3. Think about the format of the writing piece. Will both stories and poems be accepted? What are the guidelines? One well-known annual anthology contest held by Tales2Inspire® requires submissions using a Word template. That way, stories have consistency throughout the book. What word count is suggested? Will pictures be needed or not?
4. It is critical writers do not “help” by adding formatting to their submissions. I have spent hours removing tabs, page breaks, and other things authors thought was wanted. Be clear you want plain text with nothing more than a single space between words and a single line between paragraphs. The person who assembles the manuscript will create the styles, page numbering, margins, running headers, and final details.
5. At the time of submission, it is best if authors send their bios and a headshot along with the writing piece. Gathering everything several times is difficult when working with a group of people. Final polished submissions only should be accepted.
The US Government Online Copyright Office is limiting claims to ten authors. A group may decide to include more, but be aware of these new copyright limitations. Amazon only lists ten authors. When groups set up a separate email for the book, it often gets overlooked once the book is published. Just keep using the Amazon and other online book sales accounts of the person who uploads the book. That person will be sure to follow up as they are using the online store anyway. Only one person or small publisher can “publish” and therefore needs to provide a bank account to receive payments, as well as a social security number. Group email may be used for communication regarding the book but is not recommended for financial information. If the person in charge needs help, perhaps that person is not the best one for such a position.
Probably the self-publisher or small publisher will be creating the front and back matter for the anthology. The title page may be extracted and sent to the Library of Congress (LOC) Cataloging in Publication (CIP) program. This should be done prior to the book release. The LOC does not need the entire manuscript, as they do not give copyrights.
Much satisfaction may be found in working on anthology projects. The final book will be a joy for many authors and their family members. Take care to be proactive and prevent issues by thinking carefully and planning.
Carolyn Wilhelm is the curriculum writer and sole owner of The Wise Owl Factory site and blog. She has an MS in Gifted Education and an MA in Curriculum and Instruction K-12. As a retired teacher of 28 years, she now makes mostly free educational resources for teachers and parents. Her course about Self-Publishing from the Very, Very Beginning is available on UDEMY.
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