Many of the stories in anthologies like the Chicken Soup for the Soul books are written by first time writers, or writers who have been writing for a long time but have never had the joy of being published. How do they do it? Finally get published in a themed anthology?
They write a story that does several things. First and foremost is the story itself--the kind of story that keeps the interest of the reader, is entertaining in some way, brings a tear to the eye, or a offers a good laugh. If you remember an incident from childhood that might fit the theme and then write about it and a dozen other things in your childhood, it isn't going to work. Concentrate on that one happening and include a beginning, a middle, and an ending. You may have read the blog entry regarding Nancy Kress's book Beginnings, Middles, and Ends.(Seen Entry on Wed, September 2nd) If someone has written an entire book about it, you can believe it's important.
So, you've written the story, let it lie all by itself a few days, then gone back and revised it. You may revise it another time, but finally, you're satisfied with it. What next? Read the Guidelines for Submission and then read them again and again. Make a checklist and see if your story fits all the requirements. If you don't follow the guidelines, you might as well throw your story in the circular file. If you don't, the editors most likely will. They don't have time to sort out stories that have not followed explicit guidelines.
Do you remember when you were in grade school, and the report card had a place for the teacher to mark a yes or no on various items? One of them was usually Is Able To Follow Directions. It's a skill we begin learning in kindergarten, but some adults have never mastered it. It will always be to your benefit to follow directions.
A relatively new player in the anthology field is HCI Ultimate series. They look much like the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, have the same type of format as far as each book being a particular theme. But they have added photos and a section from experts in the field of whatever topic is featured. I have two stories in the HCI Ultimate Teacher book, and last week, I sent in four submissions for the latest book which deals with Christian Living. They want stories that show how your faith has impacted your life or others. If you're interested, go to http://www.ultimatehcibooks.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=45&Itemid=66 to check the pending deadline and description of this book. You'll note that the deadline has been extended on this one. The book began as one on Christian Pastors, but perhaps they did not receive enough good stories, so they changed horses and opened it to a wider audience. You'll note links on the left side of the page and also at the top. Look for the Format and Guidelines areas and read them carefully. I can't stress that enough.
To submit to the Ultimate books, you'll need to create an account, which is nothing more than a user name and password to access the submission form. Free and easy. Write your story and send it in. Soon!