Kristine Kathryn Rusch & Dean Wesley Smith hold an Anthology workshop that I’ve been very curious about since I first heard of it, because it’s as practical as a genre writing class by Dave Farland (Wolverton) or Brandon Sanderson… instead of a giant critique group, it’s run by a panel of editors, one of whom is actually looking for stories for an anthology, and will buy from the stories written that week.
So the writers get a chance to watch multiple editors go over submissions, and watch the sausage being made. They also have to write six short stories in a week, on themes the editors specify (for their anthologies.)
The next best thing to being there? Well, okay, no there aren’t videos you can watch (sadly), but the next best thing to that is not just a writeup by not one, but two of the people there, from vastly different perspectives.
Monalisa Foster wrote a series of blog posts on the experience as a newcomer – I’m linking the first one here, because it has links to all the others and lets you follow through the whole series.
And Kris Rusch wrote a reflection on the workshop, and other musings, here:
And to answer the inevitable “why would I submit for magazines or anthologies when I’m indie?” Well, because
1. You like writing short stories – and if you can get paid for first publication rights, then republish later for long-term royalties, why not? (Like every other publishing contract, make sure you read the contract carefully to make sure what rights you’re licensing, and when and how those rights revert!)
2. Advertising in magazines costs a lot of money. But if you can get them to publish your story, then they’re paying you to run an ad – because the readers who are well-trained to ignore ads will actually be looking for the stories, and if they really like it, may seek you out. Which is the entire purpose of an advertisement! And while some readers really don’t like snippets because they want the whole story – they may enjoy a short, complete story.
3. Similarly, in an anthology, many people pick up the collection because of one or two names they recognize and like – but if they like your story, there’s a chance they’ll seek you out.
4. Why not? If you’re looking for something to stretch your boundaries, going from long form to short is not unlike a painter switching to sculpture. It requires learning a lot of new and different techniques for a different form. More tools in your toolbox can really help you grow as a writer.
As for where to send short stories? Here’s a staring point:
And for something really cool? The final book in the Grey Man series by Jim Curtis went live this morning!
judging from the content of most zines these days, they aren’t going to want me anyway
Don’t be so sure. What sort of stuff do you write?
Primarily? Mil SF or adventure SF or some blend of the two.
Those get published. “Assassin in the Clouds,” by Robert R. Chase, in the January/Febuary 2018 Asimov’s was a good SF Adventure.
Climbing Olympus, by Simon Kewin, in the September/October 2017 Analog was another.
I can find more if I don’t limit it to stories I personally recommended.
but if they like your story, there’s a chance they’ll seek you out.
Yep. Been there, got the t-shirt.
Read both series of posts already and the newcomers experience was interesting. Tried a short story challenge at the beginning of the year. Was supposed to right 30 shorts in two months and only wrote 22. Still waiting for comments from the person that issued the challenge.
The difficult part I found wasn’t just hammering out the stories but after it was done getting back into the long fiction. Took me about a week or more before I could get back into the story I was working on.
At least I have a bunch of stories now to start shopping around when I get my head screwed on straight.
I got motivated to finally finish several short stories I had lying around in varying states of completion. None of them got accepted by magazines, but I was pleased to find that a couple of the SF magazines get back to you very quickly. Waiting on Analog and Asimov’s felt like an eternity, but for those of us used to the speed of indie, Clarkesworld and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction get back to you fast, within two weeks. Then, when they don’t get accepted–which mine didn’t–you have stories ready to put up yourself. With my first one, I got to use a Canaletto painting for the cover, which might not have been something one of the magazines would have been willing to do, so it’s all good.
Eternity, by the way, only lasts for three months. As Dorothy said, it would have been worth it for growing the audience. I plan to keep trying.
Got a F&SF speed response from one when I wrote my version of what happens when a dinosaur steps into a bar. Don’t think they liked it at all. When I submitted to F&SF, I half expected replies before I sent off the manuscript.
One of the other things that’s unique about this workshop is that it’s made up of pros on both sides. That’s why it’s heavily vetted. Nobody wants to deal with writers who can’t follow the rules or who are going to argue with the editors that “you just didn’t get it” and then flock to social media to whine about how their story was wonderful but the editors failed to acknowledge their genius, making asses of themselves for the whole world to see. Those people are not ready to have their work looked at as a product. They’re better off to sticking to their sycophantic entourages than interacting with real pros, because editors talk to each other and boorish, unprofessional behavior does get noticed.
Read your write ups on the whole thing. I was impressed about the whole set up. I have a minor dealing with Dean Wesley Smith and it will be interesting to hear what he has to say about some of my efforts. Him and Kristine seem to be very professional and very forthcoming about a lot of things when it comes to writing.
They really are the pinnacle of professional. Learn all you can from them. They know what they’re doing.
Your blog posts were very informative. Thanks! 🙂
Thanks. I’m glad to hear that. 🙂
BTW, “it hit all his reader cookies” is a great phrase. Could even make a good blog post title . . .
That’s my new euphemism for writing: baking [reader] cookies. 🙂
The other thing that the Anthology Workshop teaches you is how to read like an editor. After reading that huge pile of stories you really could tell in the first half-page if things were coming together, if the writer had caught you. There were also cases where I did not care at all for the story subject but the writer held my interest the whole way through despite it. This helped me understand the “please send me your next” line 😀 All in all, it was a very useful experience.
Was the workshop online or did you attend in person?
The feedback portion is in Lincoln City, for a week. Prior to that is six weeks of writing stories wherever you are 😀 Then you get the whole pile of everybody else’s stories to read before going to the coast.
Thanks. It sounds like a neat idea.
My favorite rejection was when I was told they loved my story, but had no room for it. Rather than being annoying, it means I’ve been able to shop it around.
Ms. Foster’s series was outstanding, and a great ‘look’ inside the sausage factory. Mrs. Rauch’s provides a nice counterpoint. Both are outstanding! Thanks!
On a whim, I sent a couple of submissions to a magazine. It took about 50 weeks to get a rejection for the first, and probably will for the second.
Writers who’ve submitted a manuscript for a novel and endured year+ wait times are probably smiling at someone’s complaint over a mere 50 weeks. Yet this wait time is problematic.That’s a story in limbo almost an entire year. Sure, if I had put it up indie it might not have sold, either, which is a rejection as well, but that year is a significant chunk of time, an ever shrinking commodity. I doubt I’ll submit to that market again, not out of ill feelings but because of the time issue. You can get to an age where it’s simply no longer practical.