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Guest Post on Anthologizing: JL Curtis

This is a follow-up to my earlier post on Relationships and Anthologies. I’d asked JL Curtis if he wouldn’t mind sharing how he handled taking on the task for this, and he broke it down in some detail. I’ll add that it was a pleasure to work with him, I was astonished at how well it did, given the niche market, but I was also not surprised given his existing fanbase. His work is good, and getting better, and I’m honored he included my Carpetbaggers story in this collection. 

Cedar asked for a few words on the anthology I did, so here we go…

I had originally written a novella for a Calexit anthology that was supposedly going to be published, but the principals couldn’t come to an agreement, so I just threw the novella up on Kindle. At LibertyCon two years ago, some folks that read it cornered me about doing an anthology myself.

I asked around and a group of folks indicated they would be interested in participating, so I put out a call on my blog for folks who would like to contribute. I ended up with 9 other folks, and did a simple contract with them, agreeing to pay quarterly royalties based on sales on Amazon and Kindle, since this was going to be indie all the way. The only money I took out was to pay for the cover and the editing by my editor.

The only ‘rules’, if you will, for the Calexit was that it occurred in 2022, and dollars were changed to callors. I didn’t specify any other requirements. We ended up with seven stories from men, and three from women, each with a significantly different approach, but not a single one of them was a ‘positive’ one for Calexit (More about that in a minute). Three ideas I had for a story ended up being overcome by other (and better) stories, so I basically wrote the backstory of my original character from the novella.  

It took about seven months to put all the stories together, and this included a number of back and forths with each author and a very light touch with the editor. Once all the stories were in and the authors had approved the edits, my graphic artist designed the cover, and we went to press in October 2017. Since it has been up, we’ve had about 750 direct sales and about that many KU reads, and it has over 50 reviews, with a rating of around 4.3, which is pretty good considering the number of 1 star reviews…

I’ve actually found the 1 star reviews boosted sales, especially when countered by 5 star reviewers who had LEFT California and said this was a prophetic anthology.

Putting the anthology together was ‘interesting’ in that it required quite a bit of ‘cat herding’ to keep the various authors on point and engaged, but I will say I’m still friends with all of them, for what that is worth!

We didn’t make a lot of money off the anthology, but I hope the authors considered it worth their time to contribute, and I will always be appreciative of their willingness to go with an unknown, indie author and jump off the deep end.

Link to Calexit: The Anthology here – check it out for yourself! 

12 Comments
  1. Draven #

    TBH, i hadn’t bought the CalExit Anthology yet because when i came out i had just moved out of CA and the wound was still a little fresh.

    March 2, 2019
    • I get that. When I wrote my story (set in Jefferson) I had recently decided I could never live in my beloved OR. Because filthy politics.

      March 2, 2019
      • DEMOCRATS. OY!! Better to be infested by the fleas of a thousand camels than DEMOCRATS.

        March 2, 2019
  2. Mary #

    How simple was it to write a simple contract?

    March 2, 2019
  3. I ready enjoyed the anthology and am grateful to everyone involved in producing it.

    March 3, 2019
  4. Bill Denton #

    I fled So Cal in the 70’s. At that time there were bumper stickers in Oregon saying “Don’t Californicate Oregon” Nobody listened and the whole coast is left. I loved the Calexit anthology. It also, as you say, gave me more authors to follow. Thanks for the anthology warnings. I have bought some of those’targeted’ series ruined by inexperienced editors. Lord help us.

    March 3, 2019
  5. RCPete #

    We left the SF Bay area in 2003. We’re not far from the locale in Cedar’s story, and the climates (severe winters and hard-nosed politics) tend to discourage coastal colonizers. The rule of thumb is to wait a couple winters before getting close to newcomers; we have new neighbors, a couple from the midstate Oregon coast, and we’re not sure they’ll stick around after this winter. (For us, snow was a return to earlier lives, and we’ve been more fond of country than city forever.)

    Unless #JeffExit happens, we have to fight the westsiders and their one-size-fits-all rule. Arggh.

    I loved the anthology. Still have a brother-in-law and a nephew there, but it’s on them to get out before things go more sideways. Our last visit to Cali was a daytrip to Lava Beds a few years ago, and we’re planning for that to have been our last one.

    March 3, 2019
  6. OldNFO #

    Mary/Shadow, there are basic contracts out there. If you want a copy, shoot me an email at oldnfo (at) gmail

    March 3, 2019
  7. Dorothy Grant #

    This was a real challenge for writing the blurb: I’m used to single-author stories. Fortunately, Jim was pretty patient with my learning curve!

    March 3, 2019
    • Mary #

      It’s a trick for collections, too.

      March 3, 2019
  8. mrgarabaldi #

    Jim was patient with me and i really enjoyed the opportunity and the experience of writing a story for the anthology. I am grateful that Jim took a chance with my story and i made the cut. there were so many talented people on that book i was honored. I have asked him about another analogy…and perhaps there will be another….

    March 5, 2019

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