Getting a book in print is only half the story of a successful publication. The second half is getting people to actually buy your book, and that requires marketing. After all, no one is going to seek out your works if they’ve never heard of you.
If you’re working through a large publishing house, they’ll invest in a marketing campaign for you. You’ll also be widely distributed, so readers can find your book while browsing the aisles of a favorite bookstore. Even with these large companies, however, you’re also expected to promote yourself.
When working with a smaller publisher or self-publishing, self-promotion becomes critical. One of the great ways of marketing yourself is to join an anthology.
Making an Anthology Market You
Anthologies collect smaller works and package them into a single volume. For fiction, these are collections of short stories sharing a common genre. For non-fiction, they’re collections of essays revolving around specific topics.
An anthology works as a collective marketing tool for everyone involved. Consider an anthology by authors A, B, C and D. Joe, a fan of author A, picks up the book because of A’s involvement. But Joe isn’t going to just read A’s contribution. He’s going to read the entire book. Now he’s familiar with authors B, C and D, and, if he likes them, will pick up their books too. And there’s a good chance he will like B, C and D, because he’s already a fan of the topic about which all of the authors are writing.
Also, all of those authors are going to be actively marketing the book. A success for one is a success for all. You’re getting more exposure for less work.
An anthology is also something to add to your CV. Publishing companies are always interested in your previous publications. Any book, including an anthology, reinforces your skill and bankability. The anthology markets you to both readers and potential publishers.
Finding an Anthology to Join
Once you find an anthology that fits your style and subject matter, carefully study the submission requirements, and follow them exactly, just as you would with any other publishing submission. You may well be submitting the actual piece you hope will be included in the anthology.
Now, the downside: money. Sometimes submissions require a fee, but often it’s free. However, royalties are frequently small to non-existent. Remember this is a marketing exercise. It’s getting your name out there to promote your own projects.
Starting Your Own Anthology
Can’t find a suitable anthology to join? Consider starting your own. This, obviously, involves far more work, but it also offers far more control. The end product will reflect your specific vision. It also puts your name on the cover, rather than merely listing you as a contributor.
There’s a variety of ways of gathering writers for an anthology. One is to stick to friends and colleagues, people whose work you respect and whom you can trust to meet expectations. For the more adventurous, you might solicit writers through your website or social media. Either way, consider how many people you want involved. More people means more assistance, but it also means more people to organize.
There’s a real networking component here as well. You get to converse with every contributor and potentially build relationships valuable in an industry so influenced by word of mouth.
You’ll find the planning process getting increasingly detailed-oriented. What word count are authors limited to? What is the precise subject matter of the anthology, and how far can a story or essay stray from that topic before it no longer fits?
Delegation will be key. Who is editing the work, formatting the text, handling cover design? If royalties are to be shared, how will that actually be accomplished?
Taking on your own anthology project is not a small undertaking. More likely, you’ll seek out someone else’s anthology project, particularly if you’re relatively new to the publishing world. In either case, take your time. Make sure you’re working with people who will help produce a product that successfully markets your own talents and contributes to your overall publishing goals.