August 17, 2018

WorldCon 2018 Report: Day Two — The Art and Craft of Anthology Curation

An anthology is more than just putting a bunch of stories into a set. They have to make sense together, without being alike and boring the reader. Who does it well? What are some good examples? And what are some tips for writers and editors of anthologies?”

Panel: Lynne M. Thomas, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Ellen Datlow, John Joseph Adams

  • Where to begin?
    • coming with an idea
    • non-theme anthologies are harder to sell
    • titles: brainstorming vs. agonizing over them
      • sometimes they’re the publisher’s idea
      • some come from Twitter discussions
      • some are reverse-engineered from a planned launch party (don’t do this!)
    • watch trends
    • see if the idea pitch generates excitement with prospective authors
    • most anthologies allow 9-12 months for submissions
    • easier to create with newer writers
    • some anthology editors will only work with established authors — authors with some kind of publishing credentials at minimum
    • reprint anthologies can be created much faster
    • “well-known” is a nebulous term (where? with what audience?)
    • experienced editors and “big names” appeal to publishers
  • Matching stories to ideas
    • go with broad rather than very specific themes
    • send guidelines
    • encourage authors to go against tropes related to the theme
    • get author’s ideas in advance (via a “pitch”)
    • be aware of the tone and voice (point-of-view) while collecting stories
    • rejected stories from other open submissions tend to flood the market closed
  • Anthology construction
    • start with a strong, straightforward story, possibly shorter in length
    • the first should be a “core theme” story
    • strongest, most powerful story last or next-to-last; next-to-last will give readers a chance to “breathe” before the end
    • long stories in the middle
    • complex stories about two-thirds of the way in
    • vary stories by tone, location, and point-of-view
    • if possible, have the stories form an emotional arc from start to finish
    • historical anthologies should be organized in chronological order

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