I started out to become a novel writer. I wrote books from the beginning, and always wanted to publish novels. After writing a dozen of them and not getting any kind of response from agents or publishers, I heard some advice at the LTUE writer’s conference which was very timely. They said write some short stories and get those published to pad your resume. That can help with getting your books noticed.
So I tried it. I wrote a bunch of short stories and started submitting them. Oddly enough, I only had one published before my first book was contracted by Curiosity Quills Press. Apparently, just that one resume item was enough to get me noticed. I continued getting the others published, of course. Some have been reprinted. I figure some day I’ll collect a bunch of them into a single author anthology of my own… but I haven’t yet. More than the publishing credit for the short stories, I learned that I love to write short fiction. I think my highest short story achievement came out this year: Chronology. My story, Draconic King, was placed first in the book and the collection includes several best selling authors, as well as the legendary Piers Anthony!
The next step up in my short story journey was to edit a collection of short stories. Actuator was a perfect playground for a multi-author project, so I started with that one. Last year at this time I was making final touches to The Actuator 1.5: Borderlands Anthology. I realized it was as much or more work to edit that collection than to just write another book. I certainly don’t get paid as much for it (since the royalties are split 16 ways). But I didn’t go into this business to get rich… luckily. 😉 Also, I had a great time working with all the contributing authors.
Now that it’s been out a while, I’m contemplating another Actuator anthology. The first one has very good reviews. The one repeated comment is that they felt the stories were too short, due to word count restraints. So I will fix that in next Actuator anthology, if CQ decides to publish it. (Incidentally, the first CQ anthology, Primetime, is really blasting the Amazon charts!)
By the way, I don’t much care for the wide use of the word “anthology” to describe every one of these volumes. I think the term “anthology” should be reserved for definitive collections (all that there are). For most books of this type, the term “collection” is probably more appropriate. I have several ideas for future short story collections I’d like to edit. One thing I’ve noticed, more than a random collection of stories from several authors, a group centered around a tight theme seems to draw more interest. Many of the reviews for the Borderlands Anthology state how much they liked the broad application of the theme.
How about you? Do you like to read or write short stories? Do you prefer to write to a theme or just contribute to an open collection?