Anthologies vs. Magazines

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So far, all of my published work has been published through anthologies, and, as I’d just finished my last Stonecoast residency*, it’s come to my attention that the major drawback of anthology publications is that I can’t really use them as writing samples and examples. Typically, you have to buy the anthology in its entirety to read my story (especially since, so far, I’ve been toward the middle of the book, not in the preview pages) and that’s at least a $10 investment in an unknown.

This got me thinking about the pros and cons of anthology publication and magazine publication (both print and digital). Thus: handy-dandy bullet-pointed list, drawn from my limited experience (and, honestly, the ‘versus’ in the title is more for compare/contrast; neither is better than the other, though it amuses me to think of anthologies and magazines duking it out).

ANTHOLOGIES

Pros:

  • They usually have a print option, along with the e-book version, so you have a physical thing to show people if you’re, say, at a con or doing a talk or what have you. It’s a thing people can touch and flip through. It has weight. You can point at it and say, “I am in that.”
  • If you happen to do open mic readings, there’s a certain illusion of legitimacy lent by reading from a physical book. Well, for me, at least.
  • Also, if—like me—you respond well to prompts and challenges and/or find outwardly imposed deadlines something that drives you and your work output, there are many themed anthologies (read, writing prompts) with open calls running at any given time (not all pay, but that’s beside the point).
  • Competition ranges. If the open call period is short, or the anthology is relatively new and/or pays little, you might be competing with hundreds of submissions in total, rather than hundreds of submissions per week (this fluctuates! Some anthologies do have more submissions, though those tend to be ones affiliated with a well-known magazine).
  • Reprints! Some markets stipulate that they’ll accept reprints but only if the story isn’t currently available online for free.

Cons:

  • That issue I mentioned before about having to pay in order to get a glimpse of a writer’s work.
  • Remember that weight-thing? Yeah. It’s literal. When packing for a convention or a conference, the number of copies you can bring is limited by luggage space. It’s either a second pair of pants or extra copies of that anthology.
  • Submission expiration date. Anthologies, particularly themed anthologies over series ones, have a deadline, and once that deadline passes, it’s gone. You’ll have to wait for another zombies-in-space anthology to send that zombie-on-a-space-station-existential-horror story, or start submitting it to magazines (which, consequentially, is where everyone else is submitting their zombies-in-space themed stories, too). Often, anthology themes can be extremely specific, thus making the story harder to place elsewhere.

MAGAZINES

Pros:

  • Rarely themed, though they tend to be genre-specific (eldritch horror or gothic or heroic fantasy or post-apocalyptic dark sci-fi, etc. (check magazine guidelines)). But the umbrella tends to be broad.
  • As such, if you’re a writer who prefers to do your own thing, and has little use for prompts, magazines are far more open to anything within their umbrella that piques their interest.
  • Links! Like, live (mostly) links! If someone wants to get a taste for your work, all they need to do is follow the link on your publication history/credits/clips page, and there you go! Instant gratification.
  • Sometimes, a magazine is both print and digital, or is primarily digital and has end-of-the-year collections that are put out in print. These are usually the higher tier pro markets (occasionally semi-pro, though, and print on demand makes this a more accessible option for magazines). So, best of both worlds? Links and paper?

Cons:

  • High competition, especially for the paying and/or well-known ones. We’re talking submissions in the hundreds a week for some of the big ones.
  • You can’t easily promote an online-only magazine publication at a convention or conference. A person (in my experience) is less likely to go to a website and click through the links when they haven’t had the opportunity to flip through the book first. It’s more work on their part. And requires that they haven’t lost your business card between the con and their computer.
  • Sometimes, magazines go defunct. And that shiny link suddenly and irreparably goes dead. Which is why I highly recommend that publishing authors occasionally click through the links on their bibliography/publications page and if a link is dead, remove it. Keep the cred, obviously, but I personally find it messy to click through links, looking for someone’s work, only to get 404 pages.

Know of any I’ve missed? Leave a comment, and I’ll add it to the list.


* In short, Stonecoast’s program has a ten-day intensive residency in Maine which is something like a combination of classroom and writing retreat. During residency, students attend workshops, seminars, panels, pop-up events, talks, and generally get six credit hours worth of material and hands-on writing experience compressed into ten wonderful, crazy-frantic, challenging days.

Neon Druid Interview

Read on Mt. Misery Press’ blog.

Question 1. What inspired you to write your Neon Druid story? (e.g. A tall tale told by an intoxicated uncle? A summer spent abroad on the Emerald Isle? A chance encounter with some creepy creature?)

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Specifically, this image by Li HH.

Primarily, the open call. I stumbled across the posting on Duotrope calling for submissions for a Celtic urban fantasy anthology. I’d just finished writing the first Clay Atwater story which was, unfortunately, a novella and far too long, so I sat on it. A few days before the deadline, I’d been browsing fantasy images on Pinterest, looking for future inspiration, and I’d come across an image of a guy holding a glowing sword in one hand and a cell phone in the other. Somehow in my brain, this connected with the Clay story and premise of being challenged to find random objects by an ankou (seriously, it’s the most episodically designed story and world I’ve ever written so far and it came about by total accident). I Googled mythical swords in Irish mythology (not quite sure why I chose Irish, but I did) and—well, boom. I started writing and it just kept flowing.

Much to my shock, I managed to finish it before the deadline.

Question 2. What’s something that always seems to pop up in the stories you write? — something that is representative of your unique brand of writing (e.g. A whiskey-sipping protagonist? An invisible antagonist? A plot twist or big reveal that catches readers by surprise?)

This is… a level of self-reflection I rarely (if ever) contemplate. Um. Hm. There’s almost always a speculative fiction element—for some reason, I just struggle to find stories without one interesting enough to motivate me to write them. Lately, a lot of my writing has a lot of dead people in it—ghosts, vampires, zombies, sometimes just… people who’ve died. Or been murdered. I have a surprising amount of murder going on…

51KaAz4fJbLQuestion 3. If you had to pick a single book/story that has had the biggest influence on your own writing, which would it be? And why/how did it influence your writing? What did you learn?

*long slow whistle* Just one?

Because I read a lot, and I’ve been sitting on this question now for well over a month, unsure how I could possibly answer it, I’m going to narrow this to just “biggest influence on the writing of this story.” Kate Griffin’s A Madness of Angels. Urban fantasy at its finest (in my humble opinion).

Question 5. Excluding your Neon Druid story, what piece of writing are you most proud of, and why? And, if applicable, where can readers find it? (Include a link!)

For simplicity’s sake, let’s go with what I’m most proud of that’s published, since my honest answer would have to be “whatever it was I just finished.” I’d have to say the honor would go to the first story I sold, “Jack Monohan, P.I. (Deceased)” which had a very strange journey to publication. I’d assumed it was, by far, the most unpublishable story for oh-so-many reasons and yet… it found a home. It’s rather old at this point but it’s still the first story someone else paid me for and the first time my writing was ever in an actual book. (Unearthly Sleuths)

Neon Druid: An Anthology of Urban Celtic FantasyQuestion 8. What do you do when you’re NOT writing? Tell us about your other hobbies and passions, your day job, your pet cat (meow), whatever you want! We want to learn more about YOU.

Other than reading, I (casually) game (PC is my console of choice). I’m also an illustrator; my preferred medium is digital painting (though I often doodle with pen, pencil, and copier paper, usually in the margins of manuscripts and work documents). Oh, and occasionally the baking-bug infects me, usually after binge-watching the newest season of The Great British Baking Show, and I try my hand at pastries, pies, and chocolate, the spoils of which are given as (friendly) sacrifice to my coworkers at the library.

Question 9. What writing project(s) are you currently working on? Tell us about them and when/where readers will be able to find them.

 In the long term, I’m trudging my way through a secondary-world fantasy, buddy-cop murder-mystery novel (say that five times fast!) with magic, gangsters, pseudo-gods, and memory-hoarding dragons. I’m also actively querying my last novel, an urban fantasy noir set in Chicago about immortal draugr, secret societies, assassination plots, political back-stabbery, and some really awful superpowers (truth-dowsing via migraines! What fun!).