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Write Tight: A Guide to Anthologies

Writing samples: Parker 75

Image by churl via Flickr

Guest post by STACEY GRAHAM

Hemingway did it. He could turn a six-word sentence into something heartbreaking and poignant, the words pulling emotion from the reader without force and leave them staggering from its simplicity. Writing for an anthology is a bit like that: keeping the story true to itself without superfluous words and grabbing the reader from the first paragraph.

Anthologies are collections of short stories and poetry usually centered on a theme either by one author or a collection of contributing authors. Stories will have completed the cycle of beginning – middle – end within the allotted word count found in the guidelines by the editor or publisher. The characters still need to be developed, the problem and solutions identified and the ending strong though without the need for eight pages describing a sunset.

Finding an anthology submission call:


  • Check publisher websites for submission calls, noting theme/word count/deadline/pay per word/copyright before sending your work to the editor.
  • Duotrope’s Digest: A free writers’ resource listing fiction and poetry publications.
  • Writing forums such as Absolute Write provide editors a venue to advertise for writers. Be sure to check that any publication is legitimate before hitting “send.” Forums are valuable to talk to writers that may have worked with the publication before to see how their experience benefited their career (or not).


  • Submission calls may be found in magazines catering to writers.

Word of Mouth:

  • Talk with writers in your genre. Many of them will know of anthologies looking for contributors and they may be able to help you find a great collection to submit to.

What happens after submission:

As the editor receives the submissions, either they or their reader will go through each story to find the best fit for the anthology. After the deadline has been reached, the editor will choose the best from the lot to include in the collection and will contact you if your story/poem has been chosen– this may take from a few weeks to a few years depending on the publication. A contract will most often be forwarded for you to return; please note resell rights, copyright, payment notations within the contract so you’re sure of what you’re getting into.


Payment depends on the anthology and the publisher. Some will receive a payment per word or a set amount per story while others will receive a thank you and a contributor’s copy (if you’re lucky). You’ll need to weigh for yourself whether submitting to this anthology is a step up in your career in the latter’s case or if another publication would be better suited. If the anthology does not pay, do NOT give up all rights. Reselling your story should be an option after the anthology is in print.

Many writers have found anthologies to be a foot in the door. It gives them a chance to be included with writers that may have been in the business longer thus fame by association. They are also a good way to try out a new genre or take a break from a novel that’s been dragging a bit. Short stories are an excellent way to exercise the writing muscles by limiting words and focusing on the action or emotion. With the influx of e-readers in our lives, anthologies may just be that break writers are looking for as readers with limited time search for stories with action, heart and succinctness.

That short story of Hemingway’s?

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

BIO:  Stacey Graham is a multi-tasking mother of five, a veteran anthology short story writer with zombie goodness in Hungry For Your Love and The Undead That Saved Christmas, the author of The Zombie Dating Guide and the best little granola chef in the whole wide world. Please visit her blog – Betwixt & Between – plus her ghost hunting websites: Wee Ghosties and Ask a Ghost Hunter. She is also the founder/editor of An Army of Ermas , featuring humor writers from around the world. On Tuesdays, she hides under her desk and eats crackers to catch a breather. Find her on Twitter @staceyigraham and on Facebook.

One comment on “Write Tight: A Guide to Anthologies

  1. […] All the gory details about the anthology can be found by clicking on the link (title) above. For an insider look at how to write for anthologies (and possibly some insight on how Graham will be evaluating the submissions she receives), check out Graham’s guest post on B&B here: Write Tight: A Guide to Anthologies. […]

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