21 October 2008

Manila Times column for 17 October 2008 "Anthology as the next best thing"

original post here.

By Libay Linsangan Cantor
Anthology as the next best thing

Literary writers who haven’t had the chance to publish their own book can count on an anthology as the next best thing.An anthology is a book composed of material written by different authors. Usually, there is one (sometimes two or three, depending on the setup) editor who takes charge in calling for manuscripts, selecting entries, editing them (if needed and in accordance with the publisher’s rules) and informing authors about the selection.

Publishers usually select editors who are familiar with the genre or subject matter of the anthology. Each anthology is different. Some go with a thematic framework (e.g. works about heartache, works by gay and lesbian writers), some follow a literary format (e.g. poetry in Filipino only, sudden fiction stories only), while some are hybrid mixtures (e.g. collection of stories and poems, collection of fiction and nonfiction).

Depending on the publisher’s guidelines, all authors ideally get a fair share of royalties for copies sold. Sometimes authors get paid an honorarium for their selected work. But most times, all authors get is the token one or two free copies of the anthology—and the extra credit in their résumé.

Well, the business side of publication is the downside of being anthologized. But being artists first and foremost, writers most times don’t really care about royalties. What’s more important is being included in a collection with an impressive lineup of writers and a very credible editor and reputable publishing house and, of course, having one’s work printed and sold in bookstores.

It’s also fun when an anthology is being launched. During the event, a writer could hobnob with other writers included in the anthology. What’s nice about this is that even newer writers could meet and interact with the veterans. Sometimes, the writers have their copies signed by the other writers, making their freebie book copy a collection of writers’ signatures.

As a newbie literary writer in the late 1990s, it was exciting for me to experience being anthologized for the first time. It was exciting to see my work published in book form; never mind if the whole book wasn’t mine. Being published was happy enough. Most times, especially if the publisher and the editors are “literary big-shots,” I feel proud and honored that they saw merit in my work to be included in their anthology.

So to young and new writers out there, don’t be disheartened if you don’t have your own book yet. Try being anthologized first. Sometimes, this is much more fun—and humbling.

Comments? Suggestions? E-mail libay.scribevibe@gmail.com.

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