Today’s guest post is courtesy of Anna M. Harte; prolific writer, voracious reader and one third of the team that is Ergofiction. Anna is here to talk about the process of making the Other Sides anthology, from conception to publication.
Like most weird and wonderful things, it all started during a late night conversation on Google talk. Well, late night in London, and dinnertime in Monitor City, where my trusty sidekick and technician MCM lives.
A brief background on our relationship: MCM dreams up monumentally unconvincing ideas which have little bearing on reality. I pull out a whip and make them happen.
Such was the case for Other Sides, a short story anthology which celebrates the internet as a platform for storytelling by offering the average reader a sampler of quality online fiction. MCM has already written an excellent post on Novelr covering the conception of and intention behind Other Sides, so I’m going to focus on my part of the process: the whip-cracking.
How To Make An Anthology in 11 Easy Steps
1. Pick two random numbers.
The first is the number of stories, the second the word count. We liked the number 12, so that was easy. For word counts, we wanted something readers could get lost in for a while, and thus picked 2,000 – 4,000 words.
2. Multiply the numbers together.
The result is the anthology’s total word count. Not happy? Go back to Step 1. At just over 30,000 words, Other Sides is the length of a solid novella. That’s not too shabby.
3. Find the common thread.
Pick a topic, theme, genre, or otherwise unifying factor to ensure cohesion between the stories, unless you want to perplex, bemuse and confuse your readers. Other Sides features speculative fiction, the most dominant genre of online fiction.
4. Make a (reasonable) schedule.
Give yourself plenty of time, because nearly everyone’s bad at meeting deadlines! To give you some perspective, there were 79 days between that initial conversation with MCM and the Other Sides launch on October 14th.
I recommend picking your launch date first and working backwards from there to see if you can get the ebook out in time. Make this decision carefully: we picked October, so the ebook would stand a better chance of being noticed during the November/December Christmas shopping period.
5. Choosing authors.
You can either open your door and call for submissions, or approach authors individually as we did for Other Sides. This was the hardest step as we know so many great authors. The selection process was perhaps more art than science, but we tried to create as varied a collection as possible in terms of themes and voices, within the boundaries of the theme we selected in Step 3.
6. Stop! Hammertime!
55 of out the 79 days involved waiting, waiting, and more waiting, interspersed with reminder emails to the authors. This is the perfect time to start throwing around ideas for titles, marketing plans, and for cracking the whip on your trusty technician sidekick to get him working on cover images and such.
7. Just make that book already.
The submissions come in. Read through them and decide upon an order — again, this is more art than science. That’s when someone like MCM takes over and formats the ebook, produces a cover image and title out of nowhere (yay!) and then disappears into the ether like magic.
8. Proof, proof, proof.
Email the first proof back to the authors and wait for a boatload of corrections to come back. Email the final proof and wait for corrections to come back. Email the final final proof, get an approval from everyone and cheer. Nearly there!
9. Make marketing plans.
Email out ARC copies to book bloggers and basically anyone who so much at winks at you. The strength of an anthology is you have so many authors to help out with marketing — be sure to email them and plan a rota or schedule to help keep the book buzz going as long as possible.
Let the technician submit to Amazon and Smashwords and all those places. Announce the launch. Scream and shout. Follow up with the authors to make sure they know what’s happening and know to help promote things, too. Watch the ebook downloads rocket upwards (we’re past 4,000 now and counting!) and ebook/print sales trickle in. Feel incredibly proud.
Collapse in bed and ignore all the emails coming in asking when another anthology is coming out. Curl up with your laptop for yet another late night conversation on Google talk. And then find yourself roped into another weird and wonderful project….
A.M. Harte is a speculative fiction enthusiast, a chocolate addict, and the Managing Editor of Ergofiction magazine. As well as being a whipmaster, she’s one of the 14 authors featured in Other Sides: 12 Webfiction Tales, which you can download for free from Ergofiction ebooks.