Anthologies. Are they worth it? Do they help sell books? Can they cross-mingle readers in the same or similar genres? Well, that is what I set out to find out. Regular readers and followers of this blog likely have already heard about my joint venture with some of indie's best dystopian YA authors, but I'd like to spend a little time discussing the sales outcomes of doing an anthology and then some of the extra benefits that may stem way beyond just sales.
The seed for my anthology idea came from a group called the Indelibles. If you haven't heard about these ladies, check out the link (after you read my fantastic post of course). They're a group of a dozen women writing and publishing independent novels of high quality. They band together to promote, support and otherwise throw an arm around each other on this crazy quest called authorship. They put out an anthology called In His Eyes, a collection of short stories told through the male perspectives in their novels. This seems like a really easy way of letting your fans know about other quality indie authors and vice-versa. After I saw what they had done, my brainpan started pinging and I set to work emailing some indie authors I knew.
I was able to get five top-notch authors in my genre and age group to agree to take this project on. We each contributed a short story set in the world we had created in our novels. One of our group was a whiz at formatting and cover art. Another was a marketing pro. Together we created a really great anthology (insert shameless plug here "Go buy the book. It helps promote inner city girls' literacy . You want to help inner city girls' literacy, right??") and I'm really proud of it. We set it up, launched it and held our breath.
The result? Well, not much actually. It seems people aren't that pumped about anthologies (or helping inner city girls (I'm kidding. I'm sure everyone who's reading this cares about inner city girls)). I guess I understand. Short stories collections don't sell as well as novels. People want full length tales they can dive into and swim around in for a while. Still, I was hoping for more in the way of sales of the anthology. Between the five of us we have pretty good selling records. That, however, did not seem to translate over to our anthology.
So if it didn't help me sell more books, would I recommend doing it to indie authors? Yes, absolutely. Here's why. The extra benefits I got far exceeded my work and monetary output. I have five amazing new writer friends who are in the same boat I am. Their friendship, guidance and support was worth any effort it took to create an anthology. Also, the ROI for this was very high. It cost me nearly nothing and, since I used a story I'd already written, I didn't have to expend much energy or time either. I would say it was way worth it for those reason, however if you aren't interested in making awesome friends and only hard sales, I'm not sure this is the right route for you.
What about you? Any luck in doing an anthology? Sound off below.