Today we’re talking about what you need to know before organizing your own anthology.


First and foremost I’d like to thank Salem Cross and Cassia Briar for walking me through a lot of this information and answering my questions. Y’all rock.

So, you’re thinking of organizing an anthology? A good way to get a feel for what anthologies are like is to participate in several yourself before committing to running your own. Take note of what you like and dislike about how those anthologies are run. What would you like to emulate with your own? What would you like to improve?

However much work you think it’s going to be to run an anthology, it’s likely going to be more than that. When you go from participant to organizer, not only are you providing a story for the anthology, but you also become the person to make the contract, the person that is everyone’s communication point, the person who deals with the distributor and any issues that might arise, the person that has to arrange the cover and formatting, the person who has to keep everyone updated and ensure that everyone gets paid on time and correctly, among many other tasks. 

Having some relevant experience, such as being a project manager, being a teacher, or being a parent, can give you a nice boost in knowing how to handle situations as they come up. While that’s not necessary to start your own anthology, it certainly won’t hurt. It can also be very helpful if you have someone that can answer any questions you can’t, such as a friend or colleague that’s organized anthologies before and is willing to offer guidance as needed, or even a potential partnership so you can be mentored through the process in a shared organizer role.

Let’s start with the basics:

What type of anthology are you intending to run?

You have three options and they all have different goals and are run differently.

1) List aim: The goal is to get the anthology onto one of the bestseller lists, such as the USA Today Bestsellers List. Please keep in mind that at the time of recording the USA Today list is on hiatus and has not announced its return, so be sure to do research into which lists are active and which accept indie published books.

2) Charity: The goal is to raise money for a charitable donation and awareness for the associated cause. You will often see a lot of these pop up in times of crisis. 

3) Money makers: The goal is to earn as much money as possible for the organizer and participants, and to increase exposure for everyone involved.

How are you going to acquire stories for the anthology?

There are three main options: 

1) Open call: The anthology is open to anyone, you’re not going to be reading their stories beforehand, you just have a certain number of slots to fill and it’s essentially a first come first serve system.

2) Submission based: Authors will submit already completed stories, you will review them, and you will select the stories that you feel best suit the anthology.

3) Invite only: You will have specific authors in mind for an anthology that you know already write stories that align with your goals for the anthology. 

What formats are you intending the anthology to be in?

Most anthologies are going to be available in ebook and paperback, and maybe a hardcover if you want to go that route. 

Keep in mind that you’ll need additional covers for the paperback and hardcover to accommodate for the wrap and different sizes. Be sure that the buy-in you select accounts for your plans. 

Whichever formats you choose, be sure to acquire the rights for those formats from the authors. Be very clear in the contract that those are the rights being acquired and for how long. Anthologies are more likely to get flagged than other books, and if it gets flagged then the distributor will most likely require you to prove that you have the rights to publish. In order to prove you have those rights you’ll need to be able to produce signed contracts that stipulate you’re in possession of the rights for every story in the anthology for the formats the anthology exists in. If you fail to produce proof, then your account may be terminated, which is a very big problem for you and for all of your participants that are expecting to be paid. 

How many authors are you intending to include?

You’re relatively unburdened by limits if the anthology is going to be ebook only, but if you’re intending to have a paperback version of the anthology there’s a limit on how long a single book can be for printing purposes. This goes hand in hand with the next point.

How long should the stories be?

Most stories in an anthology are going to range from 5,000 words to 30,000 words. The longer the story the fewer authors that can be included if you want to be able to print the anthology in a single volume. I would suggest trying to keep a relatively narrow range for the submissions so that all of your authors are contributing relatively equally.

What sort of timeline are you looking at?

Anthologies take time. A healthy timeline would be eight months to a year from authors signing contracts to publication for most anthologies. That being said, if you’re wanting to organize a charity anthology in response to a crisis event, then you can push for much quicker timelines to raise the money in a more timely manner. 

When you’re considering a timeline, be sure to take into account how long the stories will take to be written, the already planned schedules of the authors involved, the work you’ll be putting into the anthology, and the availability of formatters and cover designers.

Do you understand how to craft a contract and do you understand the terminology?

If you haven’t watched my episode on understanding publishing contracts, I recommend that you do so to give yourself some base knowledge. There are templates available, but you need to understand how to customize them, what to add or remove, etc. to make them work for your specific anthology. 

Understanding Publishing Contracts:


Now let’s talk about finances. There’s a lot of money floating around anthologies and you need to be prepared to handle it all responsibly if you’re going to run an anthology. 


A buy-in is the participatory fee for being in an anthology. Not all anthologies have a buy-in, but most do. How much those buy-ins are depends on the anthology and the general goals.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when determining what to charge for a buy-in:

1) What are you intending to use the buy-in for? 

It is most commonly used to cover the cost of a cover and of formatting. If you’re intending to hire a marketing firm, purchase ads, etc. then those would also be covered by the buy-in cost. 

2) Are you charging a separate management fee?

There’s a lot of work and time that goes into organizing an anthology and just like the participants, organizers should be compensated for their efforts. A management fee of 10-20% of the profits is pretty standard, or some people take directly from the buy-in. If you’re intending to take from the buy-in, be prepared to give people a breakdown as to how much of it is going towards the cover, formatting, etc. and how much is going into your pocket. 

3) Have you accounted for processing fees to pay all of the participants?

Depending on how you’re going to be providing payment to the participants, there are likely to be some fees involved. It’s very possible that you could rack up a few hundred dollars in fees by the time the anthology is over, and if you haven’t planned for that, it could be coming out of your pocket. 

Be prepared to be transparent about finances with your authors. Show them regularly how much the anthology is making, how many page reads and sales, and be clear with them when they’ll receive their money. Anthologies are a business arrangement even while also being for fun and community, so you should be prepared to treat it as both. Be professional but also try to enjoy yourself. You’re spearheading something amazing and you should be proud of what you and all of your authors are accomplishing together. 

Organizing anthologies is not for the faint of heart, and it is a lot of work. Be prepared to learn a lot through the process, and be prepared for things to go wrong. Books are messy, and gathering together a pile of authors to create a book together is even messier. Anthologies can be a dream or a nightmare, and how you handle things will make a big difference in the experience of the participating authors. 

That’s all for now. You can find all of my books and platforms in the description below. If you have questions or suggestions for future episodes, please do let me know. And if you’d like early access to these you can join my Patreon where I share them with people as soon as they’re ready to roll. Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you soon for another episode!



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