May 1, 2023
Who should consider a multi author anthology? As an author, writing and publishing your own book may be your first priority. But for authors who write short stories, poetry, or other content that is shorter than a typical book length for the genre, self-publishing a book of their own work may be out of reach until enough projects have been completed.
Some writers of non-book length content may actually have plenty of written work finished but, for a variety of reasons, have yet to publish a book of their own works. Many authors may feel like self-publishing their own writing into a single book is the best way to become a published author, but there is another way: participating in a multi author anthology.
A book that combines the individual work of two or more authors can be called a multi author anthology, but typically a multi author anthology is comprised of writings from a handful of authors. Anthologies usually have some common thread that ties each of the works together, making the book appealing to a specific type of reader.
Sometimes anthologies can have a less-connectedness between the authors or their works, like a multi author anthology of the works of new authors that have the commonality of being a relative newcomer to the literary world.
Selecting the authors for a multi author anthology and their subsequent pieces to include in the book should be one of the first if not the very first, step in crafting an appealing multi author anthology that readers will love. Since you will be working together, making sure that personalities don’t conflict too much is key. But choosing authors to work together in a multi author anthology is more than just averting potential conflict.
Writing is mostly an independent endeavor, but collaboration on a multi author anthology offers authors the opportunity to make literary connections, learn from other authors, and frankly, have a little fun.
Authors who share a close genre, topic, or theme connection in their writing can talk “shop” in a way that they may not be able to with other writers who pen projects in different genres, topics, or styles of writing. Cultivating new professional relationships with other authors can make working together enjoyable and could even improve the quality of the finished multi author anthology book as a result.
Once the participants are chosen, decide who will be managing the project. This person may be one of the authors or even someone outside of the group, but the participants should agree on who takes on this role. The task leader will be responsible for anything that keeps the project running smoothly.
This could involve helping with timeline management, enforcing agreed-upon rules, or even making decisions about the project that the participants cannot or do not make. This leadership role may not be known by those outside of the working group. But in some cases, anthologies may include a thank you to this person as an acknowledgment in the front matter of the book.
The contributors to the multi author anthology should come to a written agreement about their expectations for the work and printing of the book prior to beginning any book-related tasks. Having a contract that every participant signs allows writers to give their time and effort to the project in good faith that the others will do the same.
It will also provide a place for authors to come to an agreement about how to split up both production costs from the multi author anthology printing and any revenue that comes from sales of the book. The rules or parameters of how authors will work together should also be included in the contract, making it straightforward for the task leader to hold participants responsible for their own work and actions during the course of the project.
The way the book is constructed should be a discussion that authors have, at least informally, early on in the project. Anthologies can be created in several ways, and authors that already have a genre or topic connection to each other may already have a head start on deciding on the right structure of the compilation.
A few ways that authors can put together an appealing structure for their multi author anthology is by considering these ideas:
Genre: Anthologies that include content from the same genre, or even subgenre, will have potentially the greatest chance at becoming popular with readers who already enjoy the genre. Some authors may choose to include one work from a variety of genres or even a few works with a limited number of genres or subgenres.
Anthologies that mix genres may want to ensure that there is a strong connection between each work to avoid the anthology from feeling like a disconnected grouping rather than a cohesive book of works that enhance and play off of each other.
Theme: Many anthologies contain works that share a common theme, like compilations of poems that all address the idea of love in some form or fashion. While the theme may be obvious and even included in the name of the multi author anthology, even a subtle thematic connection can be interesting for readers who work their way through the anthology seeking the connection between the works.
Topic: Nonfiction anthologies often include works that share different perspectives on the same topic. An anthology of personal essays may all share the topic of poverty, but each author’s unique experiences and understanding of poverty in their own lives could come together to provide a rich tapestry of ideas to illustrate a difficult, multi-layered topic.
New vs Repurposed Content: When authors are considering how to develop a cohesive structure for their anthologies, they may also want to determine if new works that have never been published before will be included in the book or if previously written or published works can be used.
Some author groups decide that if repurposed content is used, it must be changed, updated, or improved in some way so that it becomes a unique addition to the book rather than a reprint of a potentially familiar work.
Since it’s unlikely that readers will be familiar with every author included in an anthology, a Table of Contents is key to helping readers navigate the anthology. Readers may buy an anthology because they love a particular author, or because they want to read something from a specific writer, but the beauty of an anthology is that every author’s work is equally likely to be looked at by potential readers.
Readers have the chance to fall in love with a new writer or even just be exposed to a new writing voice, a different genre or subgenre, or even to enjoy a reworked piece from a favorite or familiar author.
In addition to including a Table of Contents, participants in the anthology should consider carefully in what order each work is presented to the reader. Even though a Table of Contents makes it simple for readers to skip to the author they want to read first, some readers will start on page one and finish with the final author’s closing words. Intentionally ordering the pieces can provide the reader with an additional layer of experience and increase their overall impression of the compilation of works when done correctly.
For example, an anthology of mystery or horror authors’ works might begin with lighter stories, increasing the intensity of the book with each story, and concluding with the heaviest or scariest story. Not only will the reader be able to grasp the shift in emotions that each successive story gives, but they may also race through each author’s contribution to experience the inevitable high of the final story.
This kind of structure can help readers discover lesser-known authors as well as build the reader’s confidence in a new author’s writing when they are paired with a better-known writer in an anthology.
After working with other authors and possibly even a task leader on this type of project, the final element to making the process run smoothly is to work with an experienced printer like Publishing Xpress.
Since anthology printing can be more complicated than self-publishing a book with a single author, professional printers like Publishing Xpress can help writer groups navigate the process of turning your manuscript into a beautiful book that all of the contributors will love.
From using quality materials to offering on-demand printing capabilities to ordering the right number of copies is simplified to providing access to a cover design expert to help bring together your visions for a book cover that will attract the right readers while reflecting the authors and content in the anthology, Publishing Xpress is ready to help you bring your dreams of anthology printing to life.
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