Anthology Writing: How To Submit To Collections

Submitting to anthologies (such as "Chicken Soup for the Soul") is a great way for new writers to break into the industry and for established writers to keep their work circulating—and we’ve got tips for making effective anthology submissions.

What Are Anthologies?

An anthology is a collection of works that all share a common theme. There are anthologies out there for a vast array of topics: essays on bird-watching adventures, short stories about surviving cancer, poems on heartbreak and triumph. Publishing your work in an anthology is a perfect way to share your story with others who sympathize with, empathize with, or just want to learn more about a topic or experience.

Anthologies are often created because a publishing company feels a certain theme is underrepresented in the market. Sometimes they are created through the efforts of collaborating authors or even a single author who invites writers to submit work on a particular topic. All anthologies have one thing in common: They need writing contributions (like yours!) to complete the collection and reach publication.

What’s The Most Effective Way To Submit Work?

  • Keep your cover letter professional and concise. Instead of going on for several paragraphs about how wonderful your writing is, let your work speak for itself.
  • Follow the editor’s submission guidelines exactly. You don’t want to get disqualified from consideration because you single-spaced your entry when the editors clearly requested double-spaced formatting.
  • Proofread your work, get your friends to proofread your work, and then proofread it again three more times. Your work should be pristine. Unpolished submissions aren’t just unprofessional, they give the impression that you don’t care.
  • Keep an eye on the reading dates and submit well before the deadline. The more hurried you are while submitting, the more likely you are to make a mistake.
  • If your piece is widely marketable and you think it would be fitting for a variety of anthologies, try to submit only to anthologies that allow simultaneous submissions—the more anthologies you are able to submit to, the more likely you will receive an acceptance (or even publish in multiple anthologies).
  • After you send your work, relax and be patient. Following up immediately to check if your submission was received—or, worse, to see if the editor enjoyed your work—is a sign of a novice. If you just can’t stop yourself from checking in to see if your submission was received, then wait at least a month after the deadline and keep your email brief.

Should I Be Aware Of Any Policies?

  • Look out for anthologies that charge “reading fees” or ask you to pay for contributor copies. In the very least, you should be allotted one free copy and discounts on additional copies. And if you feel strongly about being compensated monetarily for your writing, then avoid submitting to anthologies that are “for a good cause.”
  • Once your work is accepted, establish the terms of your payment up front and in writing before you agree to publication: this isn’t just an exciting new publication credit for your cover letter; this is a business transaction. Even if you are receiving contributors’ copies as payment, be sure you understand the terms of agreement.
  • Know your rights! It’s usually in an author’s best interest to submit work (including previously published work) to anthologies that take reprint rights, in order to maximize potential publication credits. (Tip: To learn more about publishing rights, check out these articles: Literary Journal Contracts: Terms And Conditions, No Written Contract? What You Should Know Before You Agree To Publication.)

If you’re interested in submitting your work to anthologies, Writer’s Relief offers up-to-date calls for submissions here.