HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Are we a full service blog or what?
Yesterday we started the celebration for Susan Elia MacNeal’s
THE PRIME MINISTER'S SECRET AGENT (We’re celebrating all week, actually—we take these book birthdays very seriously (and very joyfully) around here. If you haven’t checked it out, please do!)
And another book birthday to celebrate—and it’s all about sex. (Got you, right? ) The brand new short story anthology is the creation of our sisters in crime in North Carolina—and not only do we get to tell you all about it, the editor, the amazing Karen Pullen, agreed to reveal all her secrets.
Well, about creating an anthology, we mean.
If you've ever considered doing it? Read this first. You'll still be enthusiastic--but here's the inside scoop.
How To Create an AWESOME Anthology in Ten Not-so-easy Steps
In the spring of last year, I convinced my Sisters in Crime chapter, SinC of the Triangle, to produce an anthology. An impetuous, naïve decision, like the kind teenagers make. We were enthusiastic! Optimistic!
Fifteen months later, Carolina Crimes: 19 Tales of Lust, Love, and Longing became a reality. One we are proud of, though we’re older, wiser, wrinklier and more gray-haired. Should your group ever wants to take on such a task, know these ten steps to success.
1. Recruit awesome help. See all the linked names below? It takes a village.
2. Compose an attention-grabbing theme. Ours: a crime story about sex. Examples:
. . . reproduction, lust and desire; genetic engineering; online dating; animal breeding; infertility; STDs; prostitution; obsession; gender dysmorphia; erectile dysfunction; romance; endocrine disorders; virginity; marriage and weddings; pornography; jealousy; chromosomes; plastic surgery; secondary sex characteristics; gynecology.
The anthology committee—Sheila Webster Boneham, Judith Stanton, and Sarah Shaber tweaked and approved it.
3. Solicit stories. SinC has guidelines: submissions must be open and blind from SinC members; monetary compensation to the authors; stories must be original, never before published. We sent our solicitation to the 170 members of SinC who lived in North or South Carolina.
4. Judge the submissions. Thirty stories were submitted. Britni Patterson received the stories and distributed each one to three contributing authors for judging. Tamara Ward compiled the judges’ scores and comments. Ruth Moose, Judith Stanton, and I also read all the stories, so each story was exposed to six pairs of eyes. Twenty-one stories were accepted, subject to a satisfactory revision.
5. Edit the accepted stories. I marked them up and asked the authors for revisions. Two declined to work with me on their stories. The remaining nineteen went back and forth, many times – polishing, tightening, adding, subtracting, making them the best they could be. These authors were a pleasure to work with. If they gnashed their teeth and turned purple after yet another email from me, I didn’t know it. Judith Stanton’s eagle eyes scanned the manuscript for mistakes in spelling, punctuation, word usage.
6. Ask for an introduction. Kind, generous Margaret Maron agreed.
7. Query publishers. Toni Goodyear did a remarkable job of collecting names of publishers of all sorts, selecting likely ones, and sending query letters and sample stories. We had multiple offers. This astonished me, having been through a lengthy query process with my own novel. We decided to go with Wildside Press, which had published other SinC anthologies and is on the MWA list of approved publishers.
8. Negotiate a contract. Most of the terms were acceptable, standard for the industry. We asked for extra copies to send to reviewers, and a free copy for each author. Solicit blurbs from some good people: Hank Phillipi Ryan, Kaye George, Tamra Wilson, and Barb Goffman.
9. Read a proof. Wildside wanted to have the book available for Malice Domestic, so this step was a rush. I sent back three pages of corrections.
10. Hold your baby in your arms, briefly. Then show it to the world. I had a lot of fun creating a book trailer. I talked it up at Malice, and eleven of the authors participated in a book launch party at McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro NC. Some of them blogged about their experience. We’ve scheduled more readings, guest blog posts, a radio interview. Readers like it – and our first newpaper review called it “delicious.”
Back row, L to R: Ann Mitchell, Calvin Hall, Linda Johnson, Joanie Cowell, Britni Patterson, Polly Iyer. Front row, L to R: Tamara Ward, Karen Pullen, Antoinette Brown, Toni Goodyear, Judith Stanton.
Ten steps, none of them easy. But look at these smiles – it was worth every minute.
Do you have an anthology experience to relate?
In one week, a lucky commenter’s name will be drawn at random, to win a copy of Carolina Crimes: 19 Tales of Lust, Love, and Longing.
HANK: This is such amazingly valuable info--and such a treat to hear about the journey! Have any of you been in anthologies? Do you read them? What did you think about your experience?
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Carolina Crimes is available in paper and e-book format from online retailers and your local bookstore.
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Karen Pullen left a perfectly good job at an engineering consulting firm to make her fortune (um, maybe not) as an innkeeper and a fiction writer. Her B&B has been open for 12 years, and she’s published short stories in Every Day Fiction, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Spinetingler, Sixfold, bosque (the magazine), and anthologies. Her first novel, Cold Feet, was released by Five Star in January 2013. She lives in Pittsboro, N.C.