Tips to Getting Published in an Anthology
by Linda Joy Myers
When the baby boomers of my generation were living through the ’60s and ’70s, we didn’t have a perspective on our experiences—life-altering events like the death of JFK, the Viet Nam war, the death of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, riots at the Democratic convention, students killed at Kent State, the demonstrations for civil rights, free speech, women’s rights, and mass marches to end the war. We knew we were tuned into something—shocked into growing up and finding our identity as women in the midst of huge social change. As a memoirist, I had to wonder how many people’s stories would illuminate our history and experiences.
The seeds for gathering stories for the anthology The Times They Were A’Changing: Women Remember the ‘60s and ‘70s were sown at the Story Circle Memoir Conference in 2012. My decades long curiosity about how other women lived the ’60s and ’70s linked with my memoir friends Kate Farrell and Amber Lea Starfire under a 700-year-old oak tree in Austin Texas, where the wine, wind, and our reminiscences entwined to create the idea of inviting stories of our sisters from that era to grace the pages of an anthology. Amber, with techie talents, designed and created our website while Kate researched iconic photos of the era, and all of us decided on themes. We created a contest with prizes and invited submissions by advertising in literary magazines and through writing clubs.
With a pile of submissions in our laps, we were looking to be swept into another world and another time, always on the lookout for a magic ingredient that made the stories sing and reach beyond the words into our hearts. We created a rubric that included artistry as well as technique, voice and passion along with the ability to use craft elements of good story telling, grammar, tone, and sensual details. We read and scored the submissions many times, wanting to be fair, aware that besides the techniques of good story writing, there were elements that were harder to define—that je ne sais quoi of a story that made us tingle—and say yes to the story.
If you are considering submitting to an anthology, consider these tips:
- Be sure to follow the instructions about submissions! We felt sad when we had to disqualify someone because they sent too many words or didn’t follow our requirements. These things matter when you are competing with many other good writers who will follow instructions.
- Edit, edit, edit. We gave lower scores immediately when we found more than one typo or grammatical error—and if they were on the first page, we were wary of more. We figured the writer was not serious enough to edit carefully. Share your story with your friends, read your piece aloud, and/or hire a professional editor. You get one shot at being accepted!
- Be sure your piece addresses the theme of the anthology. Work to shape your piece around the theme and word count as you begin writing. Imagine your work divided into three sections—a beginning where the themes are laid out, a middle where your story develops layers of complexity, and an end where there’s the takeaway for the reader and an epiphany for the protagonist. In memoir—that’s you!
- Start with a scene that drops the reader into the world you are creating in your story. Use sensual details—colorful descriptions, textures, sounds, and smells that harken back to that time and place. Clothing styles, language, food, cars, and music all denote a certain era.
- Weave scene and reflection into a skillful rendering of theme and action—show more than tell. Of course, in memoir you do need to “tell” and reflect upon the meaning of the scene.
- Use both direct and indirect dialogue. Dialogue in a story is an approximation of a real conversation with the goal of showing character and action. It’s a real skill. Read great dialogue in fiction and memoir, and try your best.
- Make sure the title and theme of your piece weave threads that continue all the way through.
- What does your reader “take away” or learn from your story? A good story is more than “this happened and then that happened.”
Know that each story you write offers you a chance to be creative and express yourself. You learn something new about how you think, remember, and write in each piece. Enjoy the process!
Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the 60s & 70s
Editors: Kate Farrell, Linda Joy Myers, Amber Lea Starfire
This is a unique collection of women’s true and compelling stories and poetry about the sixties and seventies—a special and memorable time in women’s lives—yet there are so many stories untold. We want to hear from you! We’re looking for personal narrative and poetry which will evoke this unique era in American and world history.
The editors will be selecting stories that weave the historical or culturalsignificance of a unique experience into the storyline, though we don’t want just an “eyewitness to history” story focused on being present at a famous event or protest. The focus of the stories for this unique collection is the wisdom gained from your own experience. We’re looking for stories and poems that evoke those times expressed in your authentic voice with originality and resonance.
Prose submissions should demonstrate the art of storytelling, and possess a story arc with dramatic appeal. We would like poetry to suggest story as well as conjure imagery and elicit emotion.
- Submission period: September 1, 2012 – January 15, 2013 (deadline)
- Prose: 2,500 words maximum
- Poetry: no maximum
- Include title of piece and page numbers in header, but DO NOT INCLUDE AUTHOR NAME OR IDENTIFYING INFO. IN THE UPLOADED DOCUMENT. (We’ll ask for your contact information and bio in separate fields.) If you include identifying information, such as your name or address, anywhere in the document, your submission will be automatically disqualified from the contest; however, the piece will still be eligible for publication.
- All entries must be proofread and edited for clarity and mechanics of style
- All submissions must be new material for publication, no reprints
- Only ONE submission in each category (prose & poetry) per author
- Editors reserve the right to choose pieces based on appropriateness of subject, writing technique and style
- Minor editing for length or clarity should be expected
- Authors will be notified by March 15, 2013
- Page margins of 1-inch, all the way around
- Text must be double-spaced, 12-point serif font, such as Times New Roman
Do not include your name or any identifying/contact information in the body of your uploaded document.
We’ll ask for your contact information and bio in separate fields on the submission form. The contest is being judged “blind.” This means that if you include identifying information anywhere in the document, your submission will be automatically disqualified from the contest; however, the piece will still be considered and eligible for publication.
By submitting your piece you agree, if selected for prizes and/or publication, to grant anthology editors nonexclusive rights to print, publish, reproduce, distribute and license the piece as part of the anthology; you will retain copyright to your piece.