Monday, October 16, 2017

Why Anthologies?

by Jeanette O'Hagan

I was asked recently, 'Why contribute to an anthology?' 

Six years ago, when I dusted off the novel I wrote decades ago and started writing again, anthologies were the last thing on my mind. I struggled writing short fiction and my focus was on writing novels. My experience of reading short fiction was limited and often disappointing.

This month, I was thrilled to launch my first published novel, Arkad’s Children (a prequel to the first one I wrote). I still love writing my epic novels – but in between I caught the anthology bug, with stories and poems published in over a dozen of them. I now enjoy writing and reading short stories and love the anthologies I’m featured in.

What is an anthology?

An anthology is a collection of works by a group of different authors. It can be fiction or non-fiction, short stories or poems. Anthologies are often themed. For instance, the theme of the Futurevision anthology is on visions of the future, while that of Christian Writers Downunder's Glimpses of Light is on the glimmers of light (and hope) in the darkness. Some anthologies are genre specific. For instance, Like a Woman is restricted to speculative fiction (including horror). 

In contrast to an anthology, a collection is by a single author though again, often themed (for instance, Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning).

What are the Advantages?

Anthologies can:

Offer an opportunity to be published

Publishers and editors of anthologies are often actively seeking new authors. They usually give a theme to write to and a deadline to motivate.

Broaden your reach as an author

An anthology has a range of contributors — from a few to many — some of whom may be more well-known than you. Ideally, all the contributors will promote the anthology to their fan base and your story (or poem) will be read by new readers. Perhaps, these fans will fall in love with your writing. At the very least, you are now known to a wider community of writers (who, after all, are mostly readers too).

Are fun to be part of

Having your work accepted, edited, published and promoted is fun. Well, okay, editing may not be – but the buzz that surrounds bringing an anthology together and launching it into the world is. The recent Futurevision launch was wonderful event and our publisher gifted each contributor with a story-based poster. Tales from the Underground and Quantum Soul also have some fun promotional materials, including a trailer for TUG.

Build up your portfolio

Anthologies give an impetus to write and, even when the pieces aren’t accepted, you have a growing portfolio of stories, which may be submitted elsewhere or which can be published as stand-alones stories or in a collection, or which can be used as giveaways and free offers in conjunction with your email list or at launches.  If these pieces are linked in some way to your novels, they can act as a funnel to your work.

Provide you chance to give back

With charity anthologies, your story can help support a worthy cause. In collaborative anthologies, authors help each other with editing and feedback and  promotion.

Give writing creds and experience

Each publication adds to your bio and may catch the attention of a publisher or agent.  For me, writing shorter works and poetry has honed my skills, increased my knowledge of the ins and outs of publishing and given me the confidence to publish my novel, Akrad’s Children.

May pay, but not always

With charity anthologies (such as Glimpses of Light, Like a Girl, Like a Woman), the profits go to the designated charity. Other anthologies give prizes to place getters (eg Poetica Christi, Crossroads anthology), but otherwise offer a free copy to contributors.  Or, the publisher may offer the anthologies at a discounted price which contributors can sell for a profit (as with 1231 Publishing anthologies like Obliquity and Futurevision). Or the anthology may give royalties, like Quantum Soul or Tales From the Underground. How many royalties will depend on the success of the anthology and the split between contributors. Others anthologies will pay an upfront fee for their stories, for instance Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Overall, I think the other benefits are more important.

Questions to ask:

Are you happy with the overall aims and values of the anthology?

For instance, if it’s a charity anthology, is it supporting a cause you believe in. Or, what does it exclude or allow writings and genres you or your readers might be uncomfortable with.

Is it a good fit for your writing?

Short fiction is a great place to experiment and maybe try out new genres or ideas. On the other hand, if you wish to attract new readers to your longer fiction (or non-fiction), then choosing anthologies that focus on related themes and/or genres make sense.

What rights and exclusions are they seeking?

One anthology I decided not to enter, sounded attractive until I realised the publisher was asking for ‘all rights’ of the story. That’s a carte blanche which means I would have lost all control of the story forever. No thanks. 

Generally anthology publishers seek the right to publish the story in print & e-book and may ask for a period of exclusivity. For instance, Quantum Soul has a 12-month exclusivity from the date of publication so they can enrol the anthology into Kindle Unlimited. I can live with that. But would hesitate if it was any longer.

Always read the contract and ask for advice if needed.

What have you got to lose?

Well, maybe time and effort. Perhaps, focusing on anthologies will distract from writing the novel or other projects. Would I have published Akrad’s Children earlier if I hadn’t been involved in writing for anthologies over the last 2-3 years? Perhaps, but I think I’ve learnt much writing those stories and being involved in their publication that I’m sure my debut novel is the better for it.

Where are the Opportunities?

Are you aware of any other opportunities? Have you been part of an anthology? Yes? What were the advantages and disadvantages? If not, think about the possibilities.


Jeanette started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of eight or nine. She enjoys writing secondary world fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. Her Nardvan stories span continents, time and cultures. They involve a mixture of courtly intrigue, adventure, romance and/or shapeshifters and magic users.

She has published stories and poems in over a dozen anthologies
, including Glimpses of Light and Futurevision with three anthologies coming out this month - Redemption anthology, Tales From the Underground, and Quantum Soul.  She recently released her debut novel Akrad's Children - the first in the Akrad's Legacy series

Find her at her Facebook Page or at Goodreads or on Amazon or on her or Jeanette O'Hagan Writes . if you want to stay up-to-date with latest publications and developments, sign up to Jeanette O'Hagan Writes e-mail newsletter.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

From tiny seeds...Omega Writers grew – by Ruth Bonetti

Once upon a time, back in the past millennium, a publisher scattered seeds amongst Brisbane writers. Offering a free seminar–with lunch– to attract new authors, Open Book’s John Pfitzner was swamped by responses. Intrigued by familiar faces there I wondered: What if we got together on a regular basis to encourage and support each other? I sent an open invitation to meet in my garden and discuss.

This 1991 mustard seed of Omega Writers has rooted and bourgeoned strong branches.
A dozen in a monthly circle shared writing to encouraging nods. We photocopied a scissors and glue newsletter. Guest speakers enlightened but the prime focus was support.

Our recurring plaint: ‘How do we find a publisher?’ was answered. Publisher Rochelle Manners rose through our ranks, while other Christian houses faded.

In 1994 God gave another vision: performances to showcase members’ words coloured with dance, rap, my husband’s Brisbane Symphony Orchestra. Pro Hart sent paintings for an adjacent art exhibition. I illustrated my poem with a slide show in the dark ages before Power Point. Two performances Gallery attracted 1000 people. Nail biting? Yes. Faith? Yes.

In 2000, God sent another vision. Help people into print with an anthology Seasons of Giving. It came to pass. As did my energy.

Lyn Hurry took over. She and Anne Hamilton mounted another visionary exploit: Alpha2Omega Conference of Literary and Dramatic Arts drew authors across Australia, to present knowledge, experience and books across multiple rooms.

Next president Annie Hamilton urged authors to review each other’s books on Her visions initiated a digital magazine Zaphon, CALEB book awards and conferences.
STILL TIME! Apply NOW for Omega WritersConference in Sydney 27-29 October.
“A great place to get together with like-minded people for learning, sharing, networking and encouraging.” – Nola Passmore

Initially Omega’s only local writing group was based in Brisbane. but expanded to Toowoomba, Gold Coast, other capitals and New Zealand. Locally based and genre specific online writing groups budded.

President Simon Kennedy updated the website to small screen friendly with capacity to pay memberships, advertise and process events online–like Toowoomba Chapter’s caring, infectious annual weekend retreats and a Book Fair.

“Last year’s Book Fair was made possible with bookings done online and covering the event with insurance. We hope to repeat it in March 2018.”–Jeanette O’Hagan.

Enterprising and passionate Australian authors have produced quality books, ranging from children to school children and young adult, romance, historical novels, memoir, theology and devotionals, drama, poetry and illustrations. write in a wide range of genres, suitable for all your Christmas shopping–and Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day and birthdays.

They live similar lives to ours: snatching time to write between nursing the baby or toddler naps or home schooling teenagers or minding the grandchildren. Professionals juggle deadlines to cadge windows of writing time.

“Omega Writers has encouraged me to see my writing self as part of a bigger picture with a greater reach. One small puzzle piece does not a picture make. One brick does not a building make. But stacked and fitted together, we strengthen the integrity and impact of the Ministry of Christians as writers.”–Cathie Sercombe

 “I didn’t know I could write until I joined OMEGA. The friendship and nonjudgmental critiques give me confidence to develop my talents.” –Judy Rogers.

When output shrivels in desert times, groups like Omega Writers support and encourage. Branches online encourage many members (as well as Omega’s groups, CWDU has 935; Australasian Christian Writers 540).

We’re heartened and inspired to see how the Head Gardener nurtured small seeds sown in 1991 to a thriving community of Christian authors who are published or developing skills towards that goal, clear in their vision to use their God-given gifts to further the kingdom.

After a dozen publications in her primary field of music and performance practice, Ruth Bonetti was especially challenged by memoir/historical biography. She values support of Omega Writers friends to see into print her recent books "Midnight Sun to Southern Cross" and "Burn My Letters" (shortlisted for CALEB nonfiction award).