Anthology Wrangling

To the most fabulous Miss Snark,

I recently submitted a proposal for an anthology directly to a publisher who accepts unsolicited manuscripts: a respected imprint of a major NY house. After a short period of time, I also submitted the proposal to an agent (realizing that if the publisher bit, I'd still need representation to help me iron out the details), telling her about the one publisher who had seen the proposal. The agent has indicated that she's interested and is still reviewing the proposal. Now, I've heard from the publishing house that they're interested in the project but need a more concrete list of contributors who are willing to participate.

I have decent credentials as an editor and a writer, and I have a handful of good contacts. But I'm not sure how to approach the big-name authors the publisher would like to see attached to the project. Should I attempt to reach these authors through their agents? Through their publishers or publicists? Send them a copy of my call for submissions? Is there an accepted protocol for this type of request? This is new territory for me, and I haven't seen the subject addressed in any of the books I've consulted. Your great wisdom would be much appreciated.

Many thanks.

My practice on this is to go directly to the source: the author. You write them a specific, personal email (ie, don't just send them your call for submission). You spend some time researching why they are a good choice for the anthology.

For example:

Dear Miss Snark:

You are the cat's pajamas. I read your blog a lot. I'm doing an anthology called Lingerie for Felines. I hope you'll want to be in it.

is not good.

Dear Miss Snark:

I'm editing an anthology called Hell Bent for Representation. The title is a bit of a play on words because we are looking for stories about Jenny Bent, Literary Agent. I read your blog and see that Miss Bent comments and contributes. We are looking for stories featuring Miss Bent that run 3000 words (more or less). Jason Pinter at Three Rivers Press has expressed interest, calling the idea "true crime at its sexiest". Our deadline for stories is next Tuesday. Will you consider being a contributor? Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

is more specific.

Notice I've left out any talk of money. That's cause you don't know how much money you'll have to pay people till you know what the advance is, if any.

Rachel Kramer Bussel, Cupcake Queen of the Known World, wrote an article about How To Edit Anthologies on Media Bistro's Toolbox.

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