I have a confession to make.
I rarely read anthologies.
And yet, I have had short stories and essays published in more than 25 anthologies. One of the anthologies I was in won the Lambda Literary Award the year it was published. Another one won the Bram Stoker Award. I have gotten between the covers--book covers, mind you--with the likes of Harlan Ellison, Iggy Pop, James O'Barr, Ramsey Campbell, Douglas E. Winter, Henry Rollins, Andrew Vachss, and many, many other fine writers.
Yet I wonder, in the brave new digital age, if anthologies, especially print anthologies, will eventually fall by the wayside.
See, as a writer, it's getting harder and harder for me to see the upside of working hard on a short story only to have it published (usually for very little pay) and buried alongside the often very promising work of ten, twenty, or thirty other authors. I can't really claim the book as my own. Often, stories for an anthology get a one-time flat payment (pet peeve: those anthologies who pay by the word, as if having more words make a story more valuable! Ridiculous!) and I never see a royalty.
With the advent of e-books, I can now sell short stories and novella-length work to publishers as stand-alone fiction. I don't have to share the marquee with anyone else, no matter how talented or esteemed, so I succeed or fail all on my own. My story has a unique cover and can be bought all by itself and reviewed the same way. And...I usually make more money than I would ever hope to get from an anthology, because of the often-generous royalties e-books generate.
So why am I writing this blog? Go publish your e-books, then, and let someone else worry about making the cut for an anthology, you might say.
But I wonder how other writers feel about this? Would you rather, if given your druthers, sell a 12,000 word story, say, as a standalone e-book with your name alone on the cover? Or would you rather sell it to an anthology, where it might appear with the work of two dozen other writers? If you're a writer, I hope you'll let me know in the comments section below.
And if you're a reader, I'd love to know how you feel about multi-author anthologies. Do you buy them? Do you read them? Why or why not?
Back to my confession: for me, I seldom read anthologies, even the ones I'm in. It's not because I have no interest in the stories or the writers (just the opposite, in fact). But I just find it an embarrassment of riches, usually--too many stories, too many writers, all under one roof. I get overwhelmed. I like to take my writers one-on-one, in a novel or even a shorter work in electronic form.
I hope some of you will speak up regarding your feelings about anthologies.