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

"If you combined the lyricism of Annie Dillard, the vision of Aldo Leopold, and the gentle but tough-minded optimism of Frank McCourt, you might come close to Amy Lou Jenkins.Tom Bissell author of The Father of All Things 

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Are Anthologies a Bad Idea?


Angela Hoy of WritersWeekly thinks Anthologies Are a Bad Idea

As Writersweekly is the highest circulating freelance ezine, I imagine that many of you have read Angela Hoy's, editorial on the dangers 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. I do believe her opinion does bear some consideration. If a writer focus only on Anthologies, they would NEVER make a living writing. So even though our niche here at is obviously anthologies, you'll find articles related to freelancing, queries and other topics that relate to the general audience of writing. 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 with me, because they publish in anthologies too.

Anglea wrote that most anthologies take all rights and pay nothing or little, and offer no royalties. This has not been my experience. I've never been required to give all rights. Some start-ups do pay nothing or little, but many pay $100-$300 which is acceptable to me. When an individual is complaining an anthology they generally choose a small payment or royalty sharing. I've given reprints to some charity anthologies that I choose to support, and I feel pretty good about it. I've also received some checks in the mail that I've felt pretty good about.


I wrote Angela a letter to the editor, that she did not publish; perhaps I sent it too late. I'd like to share it 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, 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, which a writing group from Monterey compiled. [] 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 use a large 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 a free press. If you have an opinion on this issue, please post it on our messageboard.

--Amy Jenkins