Friday, September 25, 2009

Organizing for anthology success

I track a few dozen print and electronic newsletters, periodicals, and web sites, constantly scouting for new markets. I regularly find guidelines for anthologies with open submissions policies--guidelines that may only appear one time in one newsletter, or may only be posted for a few days on a single web site. At first, I printed every guideline and I soon found my desk littered with paper. When rooting through the mess, I would often rediscover anthology guidelines months after the submission deadlines had passed. I tried bookmarking every site containing anthology guidelines, but soon found my browser yards deep in bookmarked sites and again missed important deadlines.

A binder, a highlighter, and a three-hole punch finally rescued me from disorganized data overload. Each time I discover guidelines for an anthology to which I think I would like to submit, I print the guidelines and immediately highlight the submission deadline. Then I three-hole punch the guidelines and place them in my binder. Guidelines are organized chronologically by submission deadline so that each time I open the binder, the first thing I see is the anthology with the nearest deadline.

When I’m between assignments, I open the binder to see which anthologies have deadlines forthcoming, then attempt to revise work-in-progress or create new work which meets the anthologies’ requirements. While I haven’t managed to write something for every anthology that appeals to me, my success rate has improved significantly. Since adopting this method of tracking anthology guidelines and deadlines, I’ve placed stories in three anthologies, have been rejected by two anthologies, and have stories awaiting a decision at two others. I also completed two additional stories too late for their intended anthologies and am floating them around to other markets.

Had I not adopted this method, there are at least nine stories I probably would not have written and three acceptances I definitely would not have received.

And my desk is much, much neater.

"Organizing for Anthology Success" was originally published in Gila Queen's Guide to Markets, May, 2007. I still have the binder open on the desk beside me and I've placed many more stories in anthologies because of it.

1 comment:

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Okay, I have to try this. Printing out things and having them stacked around on my desk and stuck to the bulletin board isn't working at all.

Thanks for the tip.