As professional writers, we are often invited to submit a story to an Anthology being put together by one of our various professional groups.
While the groups may differ in their area of focus, certain elements will be the same no matter what genre the editors are asking for or the theme that will tie the anthology together.
The story must embody the desired theme, and the editors only want your best work.
What is “your best work?”
Your best work
Why is theme so critical to work submitted to anthologies? Theme is what the story is about on a deeper level than what is seen on the surface. It’s the big meaning, a thread that is woven through the entire story, and often it’s a moral. Love, honor, family, redemption, and revenge are all common, underlying themes. Theme is an idea-thread that winds through the story and supports the plot.
Without a central theme to connect the works of so many different authors, the anthology will be disjointed and uneven, a patchwork. The unifying theme ensures continuity. If you are all writing to a common theme, the readers who purchase the anthology will stay with it and read your work.
Once you are satisfied you have caught all the errors and misspellings, garbled sentences, and plot holes, and that you have had it edited to the best of your ability, you must format your manuscript for submission according to the guidelines as set out by the anthology’s editor.
For most anthologies, editors want the work formatted according to the guidelines as set out by William Shunn. Those guidelines can be found in detail at this website: https://www.shunn.net/format/story.html
In essence, use Times New Roman or Courrier .12 font and be sure your manuscript is
If your professional group has a Facebook page or private chatroom, those guidelines will be posted there.
Sometimes, we find out at the last minute that an opportunity for getting a piece into an anthology is open, and we think we can cobble a piece together in a day or two.
I do advise against succumbing to this temptation, as your theme must be strongly represented throughout your story, and the work must be as clean as is humanly possible, two things that are difficult to accomplish when a story is slapped together. Don’t feel surprised if your sloppy, unedited work is rejected.
The editor of the anthology has asked for your best work. You want the other authors to submit their best work so that your work will be included with the best the industry has to offer. Be respectful and do the same with your work.
Do NOT rush it. Take the time to make your short story the very best work you can, so it represents you and what you are capable of.
Connie J. Jasperson is the author of nine novels. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies. A founding member of Myrddin Publishing Group, she can be found blogging regularly on both the craft of writing and art history at Life in the Realm of Fantasy.