Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Read the Fine Print Before Signing That Contract

by LuAnn Schindler

A myriad of anthology titles exist: the Chicken Soup series, the Cup of Comfort series, Best of... series. You name it; there's probably a single anthology or an anthology series on the market or being pitched to a publisher that you may be able to write a story for.

I've had three stories picked up by different anthologies. One promised a royalty on sales divided by the number of authors in the book after initial printing costs were met. Yup, this contract came early in my career and I didn't see any problem waiting. And after 18 months, I had a check in my mailbox. Sure, it only totaled $25, but at that point, I was happy that I was published and actually saw money hit my hands.

The second and third anthologies practiced similar payment methods. One paid $100 upfront for the story. The other paid $150 after publication. Not bad for writing two two page stories. And let's face it, these stories were fairly specialized. One covered cooking disasters; the other, a favorite teacher. Would I be able to recycle the story anywhere else?

I read a call for an anthology recently, and I decided to submit a story. Yes, it was accepted. But when the contract came, you can imagine my surprise when it said I had to agree to purchase a certain number of books. There wasn't any stipulation that mentioned how much I would be paid for inclusion in the book. But that $3000 proposed investment in 'X' amount of books caught me off guard! Was I supposed to quadruple the asking price for the anthology in hopes of making a buck or even breaking even? Was I supposed to turn over all rights for a story that exhibited my trademark sense of humor and my brutal honesty of the situation? Was I supposed to believe this was for real?

The contract met the paper shredder, and instantly, the friendship between paper and machine was ripped into multiple pieces. I also approached the editor and withdrew my story. He mentioned how much the story would 'make a difference' and 'others would learn' from my experiences. With some gentle persuasion, he finally agreed and saw things my way. Ah, the power of persuasion!

True, others would learn from the essay I wrote. But they'll also learn a valuable lesson from this article. Not all anthologies are created equally. And neither are all contracts. Before signing on the dotted line in front of a notary, thoroughly read the contract. And if you have questions, ask the editor. Better yet, if you can afford a quick consultation with a lawyer, pay the fee and find out the real costs as well as the hidden costs of publishing.

Taking time to peruse the terms of a contract will make a difference. And, you will learn how to navigate in the murky waters that can sometimes surround the sale of a story.

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Friday, April 03, 2009


Friday Speak Out: Having Fun with Anthology Builder, Guest Post by Joy V. Smith

Having Fun with Anthology Builder

by Joy V. Smith

I learned about Anthology Builder on a listserv and checked it out. Hmm. This looks interesting, and it could be a home for my old stories since they only take reprints. Then I googled it and discovered that lots of writers are discussing it on blogs, submitting their stories, and selling some. So, I submitted a couple stories and then more, and then some more. I got the chance to put connected stories together that had run in different publications.

You're probably not going to make a lot of money with Anthology Builder. As a matter of fact, some people are using it for their own pleasure. They collect stories and cover art, and the book is printed by Lulu and sent to them for $14.95 (up to 350 pages), plus shipping, which depends on the size of the book. You can choose to have your anthology kept private or placed in the public library, where anyone can buy it. You select from a list of stories (with descriptions and previews), choose your own title and cover art, and receive a perfect-bound, Trade Paperback book.

After I had a few stories accepted by Anthology Builder, I noticed that some writers and writing groups were putting together their stories in collections and anthologies, so I thought I'd experiment with a cover and a collection and ended up putting my collection, Aliens, Animals, and Adventure, in their library, and I ordered a copy for myself. (I've wanted my stories in a collection for a long time.) I've received my first book; it didn't take very long, and the quality is good. Though there were typos, they were mine, and I have no idea what caused the broken lines in some stories. (The sentences are complete, but dropped to the next line.)

The cover art is in genre categories, as are the stories (you choose up to three genres per story when submitting), and the artists include Frank Wu (Hugo fan artist winner) and Baen's Universe artists. There are a number of public domain stories available, by authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, L. Frank Baum, and Jane Austen. There is also a list of publications that the stories appeared in and an author category. You can have fun browsing all the listings.

Nancy Fulda, who is the editor/publisher of Anthology Builder and who is also Assistant Editor of Jim Baen’s Universe, offers blog entries that give you updates on submissions, what she's doing to enhance the website, and describe some stories and art, if you want to check them out.

Future plans for the site include the addition of an Open Market where authors can set their own prices for individual story sales and the addition of a direct-import option for texts from Project Gutenberg. I plan to add more stories to my collection; you can do this, change your cover art, and add more tags. I'm happy to have my stories in Anthology Builder, and Nancy Fulda is a pleasure to work with.

Visit Joy's Live Journal for media tidbits and more.


Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

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