Steps to producing Another Kind of Anthology – Guest Post by Felicity Sidnell Reid…

Stephanie Chandler posted an article recently on this blog, 10 Tips to Compiling an Anthology Book, aimed at business people. It listed the advantages to the initiator and editor of such a book, pointing out how much more quickly one can be put together, if the initiator doesn’t have to write a whole book, and how its marketability will be increased, as all the contributors will become sellers and promoters.

In the business world the author/editor will gain instant cred by publishing a book, thus bringing in more business and, because a non-fiction anthology usually accepts short articles, it will appeal to readers who want a quick way to engage with the subject matter. This all seemed practical advice from the point of view of a business person and set me wondering about the anthology that the organization I belong to, Spirit of the Hills Arts Association, will be publishing this coming fall in association with their 2019 Festival of the Arts. Is our purpose and will our process be very different from this?

  • First step: This will be the fourth volume of Hill Spirits anthologies by writers from Northumberland County Ontario. The committee of editors invites all our writer members to submit up to three items, poetry prose or non-fiction. Our artist members are asked to send in photos or line drawings to illustrate the theme of the volume or a particular story in it. Our aim therefore is to showcase our association as a whole and to include as wide a representation of our members and their talents as possible. And though asking for submissions, making selections, editing and then sending edited work back to the writers for their approval probably won’t take as long as writing a novel, it can’t all be done in a matter of weeks.
  • Time lines: The guidelines for submission were sent out over the winter holidays. The deadline for submissions is March 31st. We will have sent all pieces accepted for the volume back to their authors by May 31st and they will return the edited script by June 15th. The book will then be organized into chapters or sections, the editors’ introduction, table of contents, contributors’ biographies added and spaces left for illustrations which will have been chosen during the previous months. Then the MS will be sent to our copy editor, before being given to our publisher at the end of July for release at our Arts Festival October 24th-October 26th2019. So, our kind of anthology can be produced in about ten months but requires a team of people working together for that time.
  • Another difference between our literary anthology and a business one is that the submitted short stories, non-fiction and poems have different length limitations. When putting together the final MS these differences in length and content can be used to keep the reader interested. We do have a theme for the volume, which is “sharing”—the good and the bad, sharing secrets, sharing in the community, the family, society as a whole etc., but we know the responses to it will be very different.
  • Book size: The length of the book is limited by pricing considerations. We expect it to be approximately 200 pages long. The mix of poetry, short fiction and non-fiction will allow us to choose about 35 items for inclusion.

The Festival has a related theme, Sharing Across the Arts and we want to demonstrate how this sharing strengthens both artists and the programme and encourages innovation. Hope to tell you more about the Festival in the coming months.

Felicity Sidnell Reid

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