Publishing Tips: So You Want to Be Anthologized

by Stefanie Brook Trout and Taylor Brorby

The word anthology comes from the Greek anthologia, meaning a “flower collection,” and each essay, story, and poem in an anthology is like a flower in a carefully tended garden. Anthologists, like good gardeners, cultivate, weed, and select using a discerning eye. They know what they like, what creates a diverse body of work, and which essays, stories, and poems complement one another.

When looking for the best fit for placing your work, you are likely familiar with the many free websites and databases listing literary journals and their calls for submissions—like The Review Review, for example—but what about calls for anthology submissions? Do you just google “anthology submissions 2015” and hope the opportunity of your dreams is in the first page of search results? (It probably won’t be.) Or do you just vigilantly read every call that goes out on the CrWrOpps listserv, waiting for the right anthology project to fall into your inbox?

Take advantage of the Information Age and consider following publishers, presses, and journals on social media to get the latest on what anthologies are open for submissions. Poets & Writers has a database of small presses, which is a great place to start. You can sort the results based on the type of writing you’re looking to place.

But let’s assume you’ve found that dream project, the anthology that makes you giddy just at the thought of seeing your name in its table of contents. Here are five recommendations to keep in mind before sending your work along:

1. Anthologies typically have a very specific focus. Respect that.

Some of the following tips can be transferred seamlessly to submitting to literary journals, but one major difference between the submission processes is that most literary journals have very broad criteria. Some have themes or only publish in one or two genres, but many simply ask for your “best work.” Anthologies want your best work too, but any anthology taking open submissions is going to have a very specific focus.

Whether it’s a certain theme, genre, or length, anthology editors know what they want, and work that doesn’t meet that criteria—even if it’s brilliant—won’t be considered. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t take an unconventional approach to a theme—by all means. But don’t submit something that you know isn’t going to be selected. It’s a waste of everyone’s time. If you see a call for submissions and don’t have anything that fits the theme, treat it like a prompt and get writing!

2. If you really want to be anthologized, you can’t afford to be lazy. Do your research.

Sometimes submission guidelines are intentionally vague because the editors writing them don’t want to limit your imagination. Regardless of how much information the guidelines provide, reading them sh