So, here's a few pointers for finding, writing, and breaking into an anthology.
Where do I even look?
The internet is a vast and amazing place. I was not so great at finding anthologies when I started off, but I've found a few choice sites that I check regularly.
For Horror and all things scary, come here. They also have info on poems and art!
Frequently has opportunities for indie authors as well as minorities. Genre net is wide and far, shows just about everything.
Has a lot of openings for poems, it's kind of their focus, but will have stuff for magazines and anthologies as well!
She's just a lone writer/reader/reviewer, but she posts these really consistently every month. It's not just erotica either =P
Also, check your local authors groups. I'm currently a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and they do a very big anthology almost every year. It's always loaded with award winning authors, amazing stories, and fantastic art. I'll probably pee my pants if my story gets accepted this year.
If you don't know about any of your writers groups in your area/state, probably use the internet and figure that out =) It's usually $100 a year, and so totally worth it.
I've found one I want to write for, now what?
First off, I'd say, check the guidelines. There could be some really specific stuff hidden deep in the description. Make sure you know exactly what it is they're looking for.
Second, research who's asking for it a bit.
- Have they published anything before?
- Are they known, anywhere?
- Is anyone else tweeting/posting/commenting about this anthology?
Lastly, I'd say what's most important, write something you love. You can always take a broad story and make it a bit more defined for a specific anthology. You cannot take a story you've already made for a niche audience and make it more broad to fit a different anthology if you get rejected, without a ton more work. Write something that inspires you, that makes you love your own mind, and marvel at your brilliance =)
I wrote the thing... how do I help ensure my acceptance?
Just the same as my advice to get Reviewers on your side, do the same thing for these anthology reviewers. Learn about them, learn about the company doing the work, figure out their style, engage them with niceties in the email submission (if possible).
Write a confident, yet humble, 3rd person bio. Typically no more than 2 paragraphs. Giving them a bit of info about who you are may help them connect to you as a human, and be more invested in your story.
Make sure your thing really does follow the guidelines, both stylistically and formatting. If your formatting is off, that's likely a straight up no. Style might be a bit harder to pin down, but if they say something like, "This should be a hot romance mystery", you should probably get an erection (or cliterection) when you write it.
GIVE IT TO AN EDITOR FOR COPY EDITING!!!!!! I know most anthologies say it will go through one or two rounds of editing, but you do not want to hand over a pile of blah with a spelling error on the first page, trust me... I've done it =(
I got rejected... I fail at life.
No, you don't. Try as you may to please the anthology gods, you might not have hit the exact style they wanted. You might not have had enough action, adventure, sex appeal, gore, aliens, valley girls, etc. There are a billion things that could have been out of your control which led your story to being rejected.
When you're rejected, go ahead and ask why. "Hey, thanks for letting me know. Just curious, was there anything I could have done with the story to improve it, or improve my chances of breaking into a different market with it?" Be really humble, very gracious, and calm. Yes, they just said "You're not good enough," but there may be a totally valid reason outside of "The story sucked a butt."
Don't give up, and save everything!
When your story is rejected (yep, when...) save that sucka for later! Collect your feedback from the rejecter, collect feedback from your friends/family, post chunks of it to your blog/facebook/twitter, find an online or RL writers group to review it at. MAKE IT BETTER! We can rebuild it, we can make it more descriptive, and engaging! Then save it for another anthology, which is why you should write a little more broad than narrow. Add the details you need to make it fit the theme rather than writing a story specifically for a theme.
Ok kiddies, I hope you liked this post. I'm going to go enjoy some vidja games on my snow day off!