This week, I got to do two of the nicest things connected with editing an anthology. Submissions for my second anthology with Ladylit Publishing closed a couple of weeks back, and since then I’ve been fine-tuning my selections, and sending my final choices to Ladylit for publisher approval.
It’s not simply a matter of selecting the best stories. It’s like a patchwork quilt: you can’t have too many pieces of the whole that are similar, the same color, the same pattern, or with a phoenix on a yellow background. You need variety. In anthology terms, it means that if I’ve got two stories with one theme, I’m unlikely to take a third. Even to have two with similar themes means both stories have to blow me away. It means if I have 12 stories written from a first person POV, I’ll be giving more consideration to those written in second or third POV.
Even then, the “best” stories may not make it. I love working with new writers, particularly first-timers (and I’m happy to say there’s a couple of first timers in “First”. Appropriate, eh?) but if it comes down to two stories I love, and one slot left, then if all other things are equal, I’m going to take the story that means the least work for me. Editors are lazy beasts when it comes down to it. I rejected, with some sadness, two stories for “First” that I loved. The themes were good, the writing fresh, but they was simply too much work involved in polishing them for publication.
But the first thing I did this week that is one of the best things about anthology editing, was sending out acceptances. I love that!
The second thing is I’ve started fiddling around with the Table of Contents–ordering the 16 wonderful stories that will grace the paper and pixels of “First” in September. If selecting stories for an anthology is like choosing the patches for a quilt, putting those stories in order is like choosing the thread and stitches to bind them together. Ordering stories for a varied reading experience, mixing up POV and theme, the overtly romantic and the bittersweet, the witty and the lyrical. The tough and the tender. And of course, in an erotica anthology, vanilla sex and kink, fast and furious and romantic.
I’m not ready to share this TOC just yet, but be sure that when the order of stories is finalized, you’ll read about it here. In the meantime, I’m back to reading, editing, and pondering.