I am so pleased to welcome Alesha Escobar as my guest blogger today. Alesha is a #fantasy/science-fiction and thriller author who does “mash-ups.” Alesha also concocted the idea of and edited an anthology of stories related to time travel, one of my favorite topics!
To honor the release of the anthology, Masters of Time (MOT), this month and because many of the included topics appear in my own writing, via The Spanners Series, http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners-2, we both welcome your comments, questions and experiences! Join the conversation, please!
Because MOT includes contributions from one of my CHANGES conversations between authors Google+/Youtube Hangout On Air (HOA) guests who is guest blogging here next week (July 15, ) about MOT-related themes, Devorah (Dee) Fox, and a previous guest blogger, Samantha LaFantasie (November 5, 2014, “5 Ways to Deal with Writer’s Block”), I am especially glad to help publicize this new anthology.
For more information about how to reach Alesha and know more about her writing, to become a guest on CHANGES or become a guest blogger on my site, see below this post.
Thanks for visiting!
Let’s Talk #Anthologies: How To Put One Together And Sell It
by Alesha Escobar
If I could gather some of my favorite sci-fi and fantasy authors into one room, I’d politely inform them that they couldn’t leave until they’ve handed over a compilation of new, addictive stories for my reading pleasure.
Except George R.R. Martin. I’d only let him participate if he promised to stop killing characters.
One of the best things about settling into a good sci-fi/fantasy book is being taken away to an imaginative world, running alongside characters you care about and feeling their heartache and triumphs. An anthology is a tasty buffet of good stories, whether they’re short tales or full-length ones. They can treat you to the scope of a single author’s creativity or a varied range of authors collaborating with each other.
Last year in an end-of-the-year blog post, I predicted (as much as one could) that we would see an uptick in time-travel stories. I decided to put my money where my mouth was and compile a time-travel anthology, Masters of Time.
Now that I had the concept down (science-fiction and fantasy time travel), I knew I had to reach out to authors I respected and whose work I’ve enjoyed. Once I had that taken care of, then came in the “business aspect.”
If you’re an author thinking about contributing to an anthology or compiling one, I’ll share about this process in the hopes that it gives you an idea of the amount of work it takes, as well as how to avoid some pitfalls.
So, You’ve Got Your Book’s Theme and Your Author Line-up: Now What?
I’m the co-owner of a micro-press, Creative Alchemy, Inc. Not only was I going to contribute to this anthology as an author, I was also going to publish it through Creative Alchemy. As much as my co-authors love me, they have busy lives, projects, and bills to pay. They weren’t going to contribute a story for free, and as savvy writers, they wanted to know the royalties breakdown, publishing rights, and the length of time they’d have to wait before they could publish their individual stories on their own.
These are all valid concerns, so I drew up contracts in order to have it all settled and agreed upon. Even if the people you’re working with are friends or are trustworthy, still: have a signed contract. It won’t hurt.
Secure an Editor
I highly recommend that your editor is someone who is not a co-author of the project. It will help with objectivity, it will be one fewer thing you have to worry about, and it will guarantee that you’ll come out with a polished book. When compiling Masters of Time, our amazing editor, Charmaine, had no qualms with throwing us into the re-write dungeon when needed. Her insight, constructive criticism and feedback helped shape our work and mold it into something we could be proud of.
When is the first draft due? The second? And the last? Try to have a tentative release date scheduled as early as possible so you can work “backwards” toward that goal. Having specific dates written down also motivates writers and keep them accountable for turning in manuscripts.
Get a Professional to Format the Book
When six or more people email you their stories in MS Word format, they’re going to be coming in different fonts and sizes and with different formatting. Y’all know how picky Smashwords is with its vetting system and you don’t want to upload to Kindle Direct Publishing and use the preview feature only to find that your book looks horrible.
Save yourself the headache; once all the stories are compiled into a master document and edited, send it off to the formatter. This is also the perfect time to remind you to get your cover artist and work on the best image you believe will perfectly represent the book.
Dot Your I’s and Cross Your T’s
Don’t neglect things like spelling the co-authors’ names the way that they want them to be spelled. One of my co-authors always needs his middle initial included, otherwise he is confused with another author by the same name. Does your author want to go by a pen name? Make sure you’ve got that down as well.
Have your co-authors submit their bios, book links and social media profiles, storing them in Evernote or another handy place. It’s a pain to ask them twenty times for this information because you never bothered to copy it down.
Double-check each story title and make sure they’re the final choices. Sometimes authors will start off with one title (or a temporary one) and then change it for the final version. Everything should be up-to-date and consistent.
And, after all has been edited and formatted, do another comb-through!
Don’t Wait Until Release Day to Tell the World about It
I swear I still have friends and relatives shrugging their shoulders and telling me, “Sweetie, why didn’t you say you wrote a book? I didn’t know!” Oh, believe me, I’ve been saying it 😉
Many people, including interested readers, lead busy lives. The internet throws loads of information at us all day, every day, and our social media feeds get more crowded by the second. It’s not a surprise that some people miss the exciting news that your latest project has just been released—so don’t wait until release day to alert people.
Masters of Time will be officially released July 13, but I’ve been advertising the anthology since the beginning of this year. How? As soon as I could, I put the book on pre-order and alerted my email subscribers (if you don’t have an author newsletter, start one). Several book promotion sites will advertise your pre-order, and then there are some seriously cool book bloggers out there who will also be happy to do a cover reveal, an interview, feature or a review of an advanced copy. Bloggers also love giveaways, so if you have a giveaway attached to your book release, it’s a plus!
I’ve announced my anthology at my own blog as well as brought in and featured my co-authors. We’ve exchanged guest posts. I hit the social media pavement and let my Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ friends know. As we got closer to July, the advertising became more urgent, and I did all this while abiding by the principle of not spamming. It’s great to tell people about your book, but remember not to spam.
Also, while the bulk of your efforts may be through the internet, don’t neglect creating awareness in real life: is your local bookstore or library open to your holding an event? Can you share bookmarks, cards or flyers? Perhaps you can host a speaking engagement at your nearest book club or school campus? Get creative with the ways you can reach people and grow visibility for your book.
Now, Here Are Some Things I Already Wish I’d Done Differently
- I wish I would’ve added a few more authors to the anthology. While this collection is an amazing read, there are six of us contributing short stories and it’s 100 pages total. Not bad, but some promotion sites are used to presenting 800-page book collections and boxsets to their audience. I should’ve considered book length as one of my goals, though in my gut I do believe I chose the right authors and stories. This won’t necessarily harm us, but it will definitely be part of my planning process next time.
- I wish I would’ve done cross-critique among my co-authors. Though my in-house editor oversaw the book, I think there is additional value in authors reading one another’s contributing stories and offering feedback. This was done with the New Myths anthology I contributed to for HDWP Books, and it was an amazing process. It also lets your co-authors know what the other stories are about and it gives them room to mention these stories in interviews and blog posts.
- I wish I hadn’t had a “this is my responsibility” mentality. My co-authors were (and are) willing and ready to boost promotion and cross-promote, but sometimes I shied away because I felt that I needed to “prove myself” and show that I knew how to market a book. I also didn’t want to disappoint them. Duh! There is strength in numbers. If you’re the publisher or “leader” of an anthology, there’s nothing wrong with being open to letting your cohorts help you pick up the marketing and promotion slack. In fact, it’s better to have them all on board, helping. We have various skills, gifts, contacts and audience sizes. Working together to promote the book will only benefit the group—you’re in this together.
Hopefully, sharing my anthology process has given you an idea of what it’s like and what you should plan for.
If you’re a reader, perhaps this has been a nice peek into the world of writing and what it takes to get that amazing, finished product out to you.
Thank you, Sally, for inviting me today, and I hope you all continue to be entertained and inspired by great stories!
About the Author
Alesha Escobar writes fantasy to support her chocolate habit. She enjoys everything from Tolkien and Dante to the Dresden Files and Hellblazer comics. She resides in California with her partner-in-crime, Luis Escobar, a 20-year art veteran on The Simpsons television show.
Alesha is the author of The Gray Tower Trilogy, an action-packed, supernatural spy thriller set in an alternate 1940’s. The trilogy books have hit the Amazon bestsellers lists for Historical Fantasy and Mashups.
You can find Alesha at her weekly blog, Fantasy, Mashups, & Mayhem, where she discusses fantasy and science-fiction TV shows, movies and books, and celebrity gossip…She’s just kidding about the celebrity gossip.
But, there IS a giveaway for MOT: http://timeanthology.blogspot.com/p/enter-giveaway.html
Find Alesha on:
Apple iBooks/iTunes: http://apple.co/1bp77vK
Barnes & Noble/ nook: http://bit.ly/1Kkkr0C
CHANGES conversations between authors is an almost-weekly, Google+/Youtube video chat show. Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time: http://goo.gl/eX0D8T
OPENINGS occur frequently! #Authors, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction and who blog, learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and
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