Have you ever submitted a story to a publication, had the good fortune for an editor to accept your work, and then had to wait eighteen months or two years before the story ever made it to print? I have, and even the $700 payment that came with one of those waits didn’t make it any more enjoyable. Those of us who have published traditionally know that these delays between acceptance and publication are the norm. When I can submit an entire manuscript to my publisher, BookLocker.com, and have my book on the market within a month, enduring the standard lag time with traditional publishing becomes unbearable.
But, here’s how I’ve learned to deal with it. I submit my stories to anthologies. The trick is that I only submit to those that accept reprints. I go ahead and publish my short story collections in a timely manner through BookLocker.com, but ALSO submit my best stories to anthologies open to reprints.
There are at least three benefits to this approach:
1. The first is that a particular story doesn’t remain in limbo for years while I try to find a market for it. Many magazines will take three to six months before making a decision, during which time the author is usually prevented from submitting the story elsewhere. Under those conditions, it could take eighteen months just to have three separate editors look at a piece. It can take YEARS to find a home for that story. Back when I was only publishing through traditional markets, I submitted any given piece to an average of fifteen different outlets before I received a single acceptance notice. You can imagine the ungodly amount of time all of this required.
2. The second point is really just an offshoot of the first. My work is available to readers, and earning money immediately – and not languishing at the mercy of some anonymous editor. The reason this aspect of the process is listed as a separate point is because time isn’t the only consideration here. It is publication itself that is the consideration. This relieves the greatest stress a writer faces—will our work ever be read by readers? By not relying solely on traditional publications, but using them as a backup instead, I make sure to remove the greatest part of this stress.
3. The third point is that publishing in anthologies is free advertising. Almost every anthology includes a short bio section where you can tout the rest of your work. If a reader enjoys your story, they will see enough information in your bio to lead them to your website to look for other work you’ve written. This isn’t a great amount of advertising, to be sure, and doesn’t replace other marketing strategies you need to practice, but it is its own separate avenue. And, it doesn’t cost a penny. In fact, many anthologies not only pay their contributors, but they’ll send you a free copy of the book as well!
I’ve published several stories in various anthologies using this approach. For me, the best part is that, once I submit a story, I never worry about it again. There is no pressure. If the story is accepted, great. If it isn’t, it’s no great loss. But when I’m successful, I get to add another traditional publication to my resumé and I don’t have to suffer inordinately to do so. An added bonus is that anthologies often have a longer shelf life than the average magazine or journal.
Submitting to anthologies that accept reprints won’t solve all our problems as writers, but it is a small, easy solution to some of them, and it is therefore well worth our time and consideration as another tool for success.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Do you know how easy it is to compile and publish your OWN anthology? It IS! Read more HERE.
Many anthologies (published by other folks) are single projects, meaning there isn’t a series. They come along, collect submissions, and then publish. Other anthologies, like the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, publish several new books each year .To find anthologies currently seeking contributors, google this: anthology call for submissions 2017 and anthology seeking submissions 2017
Of course, change the year if you are reading this article in the future. 😉
Johnny Townsend has published 30 books, mostly about gay and feminist Mormons who don’t fit into traditional religion. Mormon Underwear, Marginal Mormons, and Zombies for Jesus are some of his most successful titles. Six of his books have been named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best of the Year. Learn more at johnnytownsend.com.