I just got my head knocked off by reading Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods, a new anthology of fiction and poetry from West Virginia. I am so pleased to have a story among this distinguished group of honored veterans and up-and-comers. I believe all writers with publication-ready work should consider submitting to anthologies. Among the many gifts of being included in a collection like the one above are:
- The honor of having your work chosen by excellent editors, usually well-published authors and teachers themselves.
- Distribution: In addition to Vandalia’s Press’s marketing efforts, Glowing includes 63 writers. If every writer distributes just five copies, that means at least 315 new potential readers! (*Most will buy and share many more copies.) Your work will surely turn up in some interesting places.
- Gift giving: such a book makes a great present, and almost every press will offer the book to authors at a steep discount.
- Course inclusion: non-famous writers are much more likely to wind up on lit course syllabi in an anthology than on their own. There’s no greater compliment than having your work taught.
- Fame and fortune. Just kidding. Any royalties are going to be shared with multiple authors, not to mention with the press, making significant financial gain unlikely. As for fame, it’s hard to stand out in a crowd of such worthies!
Do Your Homework
The above perks are, of course, predicated on the assumption that the anthology has been chosen by experienced editors seeking the highest quality. (Think how letdown you’d be if your work were, by far, the best piece in the collection. You should’ve aimed higher.)
No problem with Glowing. This very well-published group includes a former poet laureate, Guggenheim and NEA winners, directors of prestigious writing programs and some of my home state’s most celebrated writers. I’m delighted to have my story alongside one by Denise Giardina, my favorite living writer from the Mountain State, who wrote Storming Heaven, in my opinion the Great Appalachian Novel (ostensibly about the coal mining wars of the 1920s but really about all things West Virginian).
So if you don’t already know well the editors or press to whom you’re submitting, do your homework by researching them on- and off-line, plus asking questions of them, which, if they’re reputable, they won’t mind answering (*do the same for contests). It’s pretty standard for this process, from soliciting manuscripts to publishing, to take one or more years. But it’s usually well worth the wait.
The First Shall Be Last
I’ve saved the best reason for being in an anthology for last: reading your fellow authors. I guarantee that, if you chose well in submitting, you’re going to have your brain rearranged by some, if not most, of the selections. I read every story and poem in Glowing, liked every piece and was astonished by a few, such as Jessie van Eerden’s poetic story “Edna.” After I finished it, I immediately wanted to find and read more of her work.
Writing, while often a pleasure, is still damned hard work. So what a great unexpected reward it is to find myself included in such esteemed company. If you’re a writer, I wish this experience for you as well; meanwhile, don’t miss the joy of reading Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods from Vandalia Press of West Virginia University.