I was debating this topic last week when I found a tweet that no one had submitted to an anthology called, The Lost: A Kingdom of Nothing Anthology. The deadline isn’t until September, so I’m not really worried that no one will submit, but I can understand why people haven’t because I’ve had the same fears. I used to fear writing a story for an anthology because if it isn’t accepted, then I’ve wasted my time. You’d be hard-pressed to find a fiction writing moment that is a waste of time, but even more than that, I decided that there were too many benefits to giving this anthology a shot to pass it up.
The first and foremost benefit for me in writing a story for this anthology is I get to pretend I’m a working author. There’s a unique thrill in writing for food, and often times full-time writers have to write for whomever will pay them. In a podcast interview with Mur Lafferty about how she became a full-time writer, she said that she started by writing for RPG’s, which is what The Lost is. The obvious difference is that I’m not being contracted to write this story, but I can pretend I am. One of the benefits of having a full time job on the side (like that?) is that I can gain my lumps of rejection and not worry about starving.
However, sooner or later it’s time to take risks. The risks I’m taking by choosing to write for this anthology are paying $7.50 for the PDF that explains the game and subsequent world I’m supposed to write in, and of course the time spent researching and then writing, editing, etc. $7.50 isn’t something I just toss around like nothing, that’s one of my two books’ allowance for the month. So, to spend that on an RPG game when I don’t play RPG games like that was a risk. The submission page I linked above has a few paragraphs to describe the world, which I think is very interesting, but it’s not enough to write your story. The submissions page says they want someone who knows the world of Kingdom of Nothing, so it pays to do your research.
Ultimately, spending the $7.50 on the PDF is not a waste. As I read, I took notes on how many interesting aspects of the world could be used in my story, and I’m really excited about the story I have so far. As a bonus, the game even sounds interesting enough that I can imagine taking the time to play it with others. (I guess that means I have to convince people near me, or figure out some kind of Google + hangout to play online.) More so, it’s not a waste because I’ve invested in my success of making this story published. I know that last part isn’t in my hands, so that’s not my goal, but the investment further pushes me to make this story the best story to date so that they’d be crazy not to publish it. If you decide to take this risk and write a story for this anthology, please let me know and we can help each other.
In an interview I’m going to publish tomorrow on my website, I expressed my fears about wasting stories on anthologies that don’t publish me to Justin Macumber in relation to his sharing the idea of opening his world of Haywire up to other authors to write prequel stories. He said that even if you don’t get published, our genres recycle so many tropes that you could probably reword a few tropes to avoid copyright and vwolla, you have a story all of your own. Granted, there are magazines like Clarkesworld, who say not to send them your anthology rejections, but they’re the only one I’ve seen say that, and if you are clever enough, you can hide that. Besides, they say any story with “zombies or zombie-wannabes” are also a hard sell, so what do they know, anyway? Probably a lot, but that’s not my point. My goal is to make my story specific enough that it only works in The Lost, and worry about having to change and rewrite whatever later. I’m not writing to fail; I’m writing to wow. Who’s with me?
I almost forgot to mention fellow zombie writer, Armand Rosamilia, wrote a guest blog on Horror writer Erik Gustafson’s website, “When Being In An Anthology Is A Waste of Time.” Armand makes a great point, and I agree, but one benefit he does mention to the anthology is how it will drive sales to your novel… as long as you have a novel to sell, which means you’ve got to finish. Per his advice, I’m working on my anthology story in between edits of my novel.