Monday, July 19, 2010
Meet My Guest Blogger
Cracking the Anthology Market
In 2003, I decided to crack the anthology market. When I found out that Cup of Comfort was calling for submissions aimed at teachers, I figured I was a shoo-in. In addition to being a writer, I'm also a teacher.
Knowing that anthologies want stories, not essays, I thought of the most heart-rending tale I could think of. John, a 16-year-old boy who struggled to read at a grade-five level, immediately came to mind. I wrote about the two months I taught him – a tale of fear, pain and ultimate failure.
When Colleen Sell, the editor, rejected the story, I was dumbfounded. More than that, I was angry. Sure, she fobbed me off with words "powerful" and "well written," but she still rejected it.
A few days later, a friend of mine pointed out what should have been obvious. That series is about comfort, not pain and suffering – hence the title Cup of Comfort.
Once I stopped hitting myself over the head, I vowed to read all instructions carefully, and to beg, borrow or steal – possibly even buy – copies of anthologies I wanted to write for to get better understanding of their needs.
Since then, I've submitted over 125 pieces to various anthologies including biggies like Chicken Soup, Cup of Comfort and HCI – The Ultimate Series, the newest kid on the block. I've also sent to one-time anthologies on special topics like breast cancer or migraines.
I've spent a lot of time polishing my work, using techniques like scene and dialog from fiction-writing to make my creative non-fiction pieces more immediate and alive. I regularly check the publishers' websites for calls out and deadlines.
The result? I've published 4 pieces in Cup of Comfort, 25 in Chicken Soup, and another 4 in other anthologies. I've even been interviewed on radio for my stories in Chicken Soup. I have at least a dozen stories in the mail and have ear-marked another 15 or so to work on for upcoming titles.
I'm also on a first-name basis with Colleen, Teri, D'Ette, Lisa and other editors who work for various anthology publishers. I may not be the Queen of Anthologies, but I'm definitely one of her ladies-in-waiting.
For more information about writing for Chicken Soup, see my article "How to Get Published in Chicken Soup for the Soul Books" at http://creative-non-fiction-writing.suite101.com/article.cfm/how-to-get-published-in-chicken-soup-for-the-soul-books.
Harriet Cooper is a freelance writer who writes creative nonfiction as well as articles on cats, health, nutrition and eco-friendly products. She has also edited creative nonfiction, short stories and children's books. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org