Why Anthologies Are Good For Authors
by Ronel Janse van Vuuren
For the most part, writers get paid in “exposure”. And that’s not always a bad thing. But you have to be smart about it. If you are published online or in a literary magazine, does it reach potential readers of your novels? Are you getting paid in actual money, with contributor copies or only in exposure? What do you get out of it in the long run?
Those are hard questions and sometimes we shy away from them. We are taught that we have to gain exposure before anyone will invest in us. But, that’s why we blog and share other free content (though that’s a whole other story for another time).
Anthologies, opposed to magazines, get ISBN numbers and can work for you – even if you only get contributor copies. You can have them linked to your Amazon author profile and to your Goodreads author profile (and anywhere else you can think of). They can become your back catalogue – showing readers that the editors of those publications liked your work enough to publish it.
Still feeling a little meh about it? Though some anthologies are for charity, others pay per winning entry and others allow the authors to share in royalties. All of them are good for you – just don’t pay to enter. (Anthology competitions where they expect you to pay to enter and they’ll still get money out of selling the books and the writers are left with “exposure” is, in my opinion, dodgy – exposure is something you get if you stay out too long in the elements without protection.)
From a marketing and author branding angle: all the authors who contributed to the anthology will work to market it; your name will be linked with the other fantasy/romance/whatever genre authors of the anthology giving you more credibility with their fans who will likely become your fans too if they enjoyed your story; done right, the marketing for the anthology will boost the sales of your other books too; writing short stories for anthologies is a good way to hone your craft and introduce readers to your writing before they buy your novels. (Just remember: contributors to an anthology shouldn’t review it. Amazon and various other retailers have serious rules against it. You can shelve it on Goodreads, just don’t review or rate it.)
In 2017 I was published in three anthologies – one in Afrikaans with a general theme of hope/love, one chick-lit anthology of Cinderella retellings, and one fantasy anthology with a theme of liberty/free market principles/anarchy. The first I only gained “exposure” and I’m still waiting to see if it will pay off, the second I’ll receive royalties, and the third I’ll get contributor copies.
The point? It’s all a gamble, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket. But they all serve to show credibility with readers, which makes all of them worth it. And you get to network with other writers in your genre – you never know when you’ll meet your best beta reader and writing friend.
Ronel Janse van Vuuren’s short stories feature in the anthologies Inkspraak (“Hoop op Oukersaand” & “Saphira en die Toorlied”), Cinderella Reimagined (“Just Deserts” & “Lights”) and Unbound (“Black Moon”).
Ronel is the author of New Adult, Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free on Wattpad and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker. She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads.
Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.