Catalyst Book Press

The places, ideas, and people that change us

The Problem with Anthologies, Writing Contests, and Other Endless Details

As I muck around trying to figure out how I can pay all my writers for the Labor Pains and Birth Stories anthology without going broke before I even start the press, I begin to realize exactly why so many presses fund their operations (or at least their payment to writers) through contests. Yet charging a submission fee isn’t something I’m especially interested in doing, especially not for an anthology. As a writer myself, I frankly don’t ever submit to contests or anywhere else that charges a submission fee. Why? Maybe I’m not desperate enough to get published. More important, if I have to shell out $10 or even $20 every time I submit something, even an entire book, I’m going to lose a lot of money over the long run.  Do you know how many times you have to submit something before it gets accepted? There are, I suppose, a few lucky folks who don’t have the problem of rejection, but most of us normal folks experience it on a regular basis. Now I have an agent, a good one, too–and I still experience rejection. So…Contests seem like another great way to go broke, unless you’re the publisher, and then they seem like a great way to maybe break even.

My friend and former boss Bobby Byrd  emailed me recently to say he’s putting together an anthology right now and, thus, remembering why you should never ever put together an anthology and, he said, I should take that advice to heart. Oops. Too late, my friend! And besides, I know he loves putting together anthologies. Anyway, I sort of intend to do a lot of anthologies, but on related topics, plus I’m going to have a webzine focused on the same topic (literary essays on topics related to fertility) so I hope I’ll build a loyal audience and a niche market. I told Bill Pierce of AGNI that I was, in a sense, publishing a literary journal but bringing it out as a book every 6 mos. to a year. He might have been bullshitting me, but he told me it was a smart idea. I hope he’s right because I certainly am approaching this publishing thing differently than a purely traditional model of publishing. Either I’m completely stupid and I’m going to work really hard and fail–or maybe I’ll be lucky.

February 26, 2008 - Posted by | anthologies, fertility, independent book publishers, independent publishing culture, indie, literary contests, small press, traditional publishing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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