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Amy Lou Jenkins is the award-winning author of Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting

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Are Anthologies a Bad Idea?

By Amy Jenkins

 Should you publish in anthologies?

This article sponsored by :


Advice to Writers: A Compendium of Quotes, Anecdotes, and Writerly Wisdom from a Dazzling Array of Literary Lights

Jon Winokur, author of the bestselling The Portable Curmudgeon, gathers the counsel of more than four hundred celebrated authors in a treasury on the world of writing. You'll find advice from David Remnick, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Toni Morrison, Maxwell Perkins, Isaac Asimov, Samuel Johnson, Calvin Trillin, P.D. James, and many, many others. Here are literary lions on everything from the passive voice to promotion and publicity: James Baldwin on the practiced illusion of effortless prose, Isaac Asimov on the despotic tendencies of editors, John Cheever on the perils of drink, Ivan Turgenev on matrimony and the Muse. Here, too, are the secrets behind the sleight-of-hand practiced by artists from Aristotle to Rita Mae Brown.




 Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul  Contributions from Ernest J. Gaines, Terry McMillan, Sue Grafton, Steve Allen, George Plimpton, and Ray Bradbury, these inspiring writers have been anthologized in a collection that's sure motivate.

As Writersweekly is the highest circulating freelance ezine, I imagine that many of you have read Angela Hoy's, editorial on the perils of anthologies. She believes anthologies are a bad idea (unless you do it yourself).

I enjoy WritersWeekly. That Angela has a lot of spunk. I'm a subscriber to her valuable newsletter, and will continue subscribe. Her opinion does warrant consideration. If a writer focuses only on Anthologies, they would NEVER make a living writing. Even though our niche here at is obviously anthologies, you'll find articles related to freelancing, queries, books and other topics that relate to a more general literaryaudience. It's also why our newsletter is a monthly not weekly. Anthologies probably shouldn't be the primary focus of a writer's career. I do believe that it is a mistake to leave anthologies out of writers publishing opportunities. Pulitzer winning authors, best sellers, and famous people around the world must agree, because they publish in anthologies too.

Hoy wrote that most anthologies take all rights and pay nothing or little, and offer no royalties.  I've never been required to give all rights. Some start-ups do pay nothing or little, but many pay $100-$300. When an individual, rather than publisher is compiling anthology they generally choose a small payment or royalty sharing. I've given reprints to some charity anthologies, and I feel pretty good about it. I've also received some checks in the mail that I've felt pretty good about.  I've also quickly passed on anthology calls that don't offer any monetary return, career opportunity, or opportunity to promote a cause I believe in.   

I wrote Hoy a letter to the editor that she did not publish; perhaps I sent it too late, or she thought her other letters to the editor held more merit.  I'd like to share the letter with you.

April 27th, 2003

Dear Angela,

I just had to write and offer another opinion about Anthologies in response to your article, Anthologies - A Bad Deal for Writers (Unless You Do It Yourself) [].

First, I'm a bit biased in that my interest in Anthologies blossomed into my website, Second, I believe we are both in agreement that publishing in Anthologies is not a way to make a living.

Yet writers like Elmore Lenoard and Steven King both just published short stories in the new Anthology Amazing Tales.

Sebastian Junger, Annie Proulx, and Jane Smiley have published essays in Anthologies by Outside Magazine.

Ernest J. Gaines, Terry McMillian, Irving Wallace, and Ray Bradbury-- all published in Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul.

Freelance writer Jennifer Nelson, whose work regularly appears in "Woman's Day", "Parenting", "Fitness", "SHAPE," " Health,", "Writer's Digest" and others has published in the Chocolate for a Woman's Soul Series. Featured author Nanette Thorsen-Snipes
has sold her essay, "The Greatest of These" eight times to different anthologies. She's had the same experience I've had in that, she doesn't sell all rights to an anthology.

These respected authors and many others understand that Anthologies can be terrific market for their work.

I've found that for many anthology calls, I already have pieces of writing that I've previously published or are unfinished starts that I can adapt to fit a call for manuscripts. I've even sold short stories that I originally wrote for your 24-hour short story contest.

I think your readers should look at anthology markets to pump up their list of credits, be published along side of well-known authors, and as a market to resell manuscripts.

As you suggest, it's also a great idea to publish your own anthology. recently featured an anthology that a writing group from Monterey compiled, Monterey Shorts.  They were lucky enough to get some terrific reviews and the project is a success. Your encouragement to consider publishing at BookLocker would make an anthology easier to put together than attempting to publishing through a large traditional publishing house.

While Anthologies are likely not a path to riches, I believe that many writers would do themselves a disservice by omitting anthology markets from their publishing options.

Best Wishes,
Amy Jenkins


Writers, do what is right for you, and three cheers for different opinions and free speech. You may never see Angela Hoy published in an anthology, anthologies are not her thing, but you will see other great writers including, Isaac Asimov David Remnick, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Toni Morrison, Maxwell Perkins, Isaac Asimov, Samuel Johnson, Calvin Trillin, P.D. James, James Baldwin, Elmore Lenoard, Steven King, Sebastian Junger, Annie Proulx, Jane Smiley, Ernest J. Gaines, Terry McMillian, Irving Wallace, John Cheever Ernest J. Gaines, Terry McMillian, Irving Wallace, and Ray Bradbury

 If you have an opinion on this issue, please post it to our message board.

--Amy Jenkins


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Amy Jenkins is a freelance writer and anthologist who publishes

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