Writing for Anthologies

It seems like a pre-published writer's merry-go-round. No one is interested in publishing your writing until you have more writing credits. But to get writing credits, you have to convince publishers to take a chance on an unknown. It's enough to make a writer dizzy.

There are several solutions to the writing credit dilemma. One is to query magazines, submitting article ideas that fit the magazine's scope. If you start with smaller, regional magazines, you can build a collection of writing credits (also called 'clips') that can give you the clout you need when approaching bigger markets.

However, the query process is slow, and you may be itching to get published more quickly. Enter the anthology. Quite a few publishing houses print anthologies on various topics each year. As a result, there is a demand for stories to fill these volumes.

The submissions are usually short, from one thousand to a few thousand words, and the pay is small (often between $25 and $100, and a sample copy of the book). So don't look at these as a big moneymaker. The real treasure lies in publication.

Read the fine print. Anthologies have a submission process similar to a writing contest. It's important to follow the manuscript guidelines to the letter, and submit before the deadline, if you want to have a chance of success.

Find extra pairs of eyes. It doesn't matter if your aunt is an English teacher, or your college-age daughter scored an 'A' in composition. Get several non-family members to read over your submission. This is a job for a critique group who won't just pat you on the back, but who will challenge you to make it better. You'll be up against dozens, if not hundreds, of other writers. Spell-check is not enough.

Embrace the online calendar. If you start submitting to more than one anthology edition, it can get confusing keeping track of deadlines and topics. Break each deadline down into bite-size chunks: story outline, first draft, send to critique group, etc. Place each task on a specific day in your online calendar, and be sure your calendar emails you to remind you of your deadlines.

Don't give up. If the story you wrote for Chicken Soup for the Soul is not accepted, don't despair. Save that story in your anthology file, and check the folder from time to time. You may discover that another anthology has a similar call for submissions six months later. Or you might be able to tweak the story for a magazine or other market.

Ready to try? Here are links to the two biggest anthology markets. Check back with them often, as they add new calls for submissions frequently.

Chicken Soup for the Soul

Cup of Comfort

For more markets, check out the post on Duotrope Digest, a free service that helps you locate markets, and keep track of your submissions.

And check out this great article from Writer's Digest on the value of writing for anthologies.


  1. A nonfiction antho like CHICKEN SOUP is useless on your resume if you write fiction. Short fiction publication is a bit better, but it's not that valuable on a novel query novel unless you write literary fiction or sf.

    Romance anthos tend to be invitation only.

    Unless you enjoy short form and have stories you want to tell in that format, it's better you spend your time concentrating on the novel.

  2. I'm not sure I agree with you, Marilynn. While you have an excellent point about the differences in fiction and non-fiction, much of the importance lies in simply writing and submitting. That's important experience for aspiring authors to gain.

    Editors see publication credits for what they are - an author's efforts to improve and find their audience. If they are publishable for a magazine, in many cases their writing is worth at least a glance.

    I do agree, however, that every hour spent working on a writing project that is not related to your novel is an hour that could be spent on your novel. Why not use those short story forms as practice for your characters, plot, or backstory? Build an audience there and promote that as a selling opportunity to the editor or agent.

  3. Great comments. I believe anthologies are valuable for writers to practice writing, editing, polishing, and submitting, whether or not they pertain to your genre.

    Each agent will have a different opinion on whether these credits carry a lot of weight, but for the writer, having a story selected and published is a great shot in the arm in an otherwise long and ardurous road to publication.

  4. Thanks for the tips above. And your blog overall--very informative :)

  5. Thanks so much! I love the way you've got your blog set up--with responses from two different people. Very creative!



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