05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Anatomy of an Anthology by Delsora Lowe

Working on an anthology is an entirely different beast. Think Beauty and the Beast. You start out with a quarrelsome, growly, domineering chunk of words that need to be tamed into one cohesive book.

Picture this: Beauty dreaming of finding her hero. Every August the Maine Romance Writers partake in a brainstorming retreat. Okay, so it’s like a huge slumber party. We arrive with sleeping bags and pillows and laptops and snacks (salty and savory) and wine. Did I mention laptops? Yes, we do work. We spend all day either brainstorming our next story in small groups, or sitting on the deck or down by the lake writing on our current work. We break every few hours to exchange writing tips, eat, or take a boat ride around the lake.

Two years ago, we sat on the deck, sated with food and talk and wine (just a little), with the sound of loons on the lake and the full moon arrowing a golden path across the lake and right up on the shoreline in front of us. Our host suggested we might like to try writing an anthology. Within minutes we’d created a town, brainstormed names of the town, set a few guidelines, and we were off and running

Or so we thought.

The reality is the work we did that night was Beauty’s fantasy.

Then the Beast appeared. All the details of actually putting together an anthology. The writing was the easy part—Beauty’s fantasy. Managing a project, was the roaring and untamable Beast. I am happy to say we did finally tame the beast, and named it Welcome to Serenity Harbor.

Beauty and the Beast are now living happily ever after. But as with all good marriages or committed relationships, one must open their eyes, negotiate, persevere over the hurdles, and make a strong commitment to reach that Happily Ever After.

Why am I here?
As one of two project managers, working with a group of six committee members and all the authors who were excited about the project, here are the things I learned: (caveat, not all anthologies revolve around a town, like ours did. Some have a theme. Some are made up of a group of authors and there are no rules around story content.)

♥ Map out the project and plot exactly what the project will look like.
♣ Set rules, such as genre of anthology (ours was contemporary), length (we chose short novellas, 15 – 25K words).
♣ Write a contract. Include costs, such as professional editor for each work, (authors absorbed that cost), due date of manuscript, anticipated release date, budget (cost of formatter, cover artist, and promotion, for which we shared cost), and production timeline.
♣ Determine as a group, parameters around the theme, such as name and details of town that all authors will set their story in, name of overall anthology, type of promotion, voting on book cover design, etc.
♥ Research
♣ What anthologies are being sold now, how are they set up, etc.
♣ Talk to other authors in anthologies to understand their process.
♣ Find professionals, editors, formatters, cover artists, etc.
♥ Communicate
♣ As a committee, agree on the process.
♣ Communicate with all authors each step of the way.
♣ Vote on any spending.
♥ Evaluate at the end. Our learnings included:
♣ Making sure you factor in realistic expenses, such as copy editing and project manager costs up front.
♣ Set deadlines and stick to them.
♣ Hire a copy editor, and have one person, not an author related to the anthology, determine if the book fits the criteria and is edited properly
♥ Make it your own
♣ One fun thing we did, was to insert the mention of a sheep into each story. Look at the back cover and you will see a rendering of a sheep that says “find me”, crafted by one of our authors.

Although, as a group we bumbled our way through the process, for me it was an incredible experience of teamwork and learning about self-publishing. And although the Beast still growls once in a while, the Beast is also loving and tamed. And he and Beauty are living happily ever after.

Welcome to Serenity Harbor, Maine, where waves slap against the rocky shore and love is always in the air.
Two centuries after a ship, The Serenity, brought the first families to this part of the secluded Maine coast, the town is home to their descendants and a destination for tourists and travelers seeking their own slice of heaven—and blueberry pie.
Join nine Maine authors and their friends in their walk around Serenity Harbor, and maybe you’ll find the sheep that sometimes get loose on Main Street!
Authors contributing to Welcome to Serenity Harbor:
Terri Brisbin, Teagan Oliver,

Kat Henry Doran, Luanna Stewart,

Michelle Libby, Maggie Robinson, 

Delsora Lowe, April Canavan and

Rose Morris, Meg Kassel

Welcome to Serenity Harbor is available now. Check your favorite e-retailer to purchase.

About Delsora Lowe
From Cabins to Cottages…Keep the Home Fires Burning
A transplanted big city girl, world-wide traveler, and foreign-service brat, who now lives in a coastal Maine town, Delsora Lowe loves to write about small town heroes from the cowboys and ranchers of Colorado to the game wardens and lobstermen of Maine. Her work in the hospitality industry, rape crisis, admissions, alumni relations, and women’s advocacy has allowed her to interact on a daily basis with real life heroines and heroes. Lowe’s family visits to Colorado are the inspiration for an upcoming contemporary western series.

The Legacy of Parkers Point by Delsora Lowe in the anthology Welcome to Serenity Harbor:

Two lives, one legacy—the lure of Parkers Point
One runs from …
Inheriting his grandfather’s property on the rocky point in Serenity Harbor, Maine is the perfect escape from the biggest professional disaster of Grayson’s life. Will distance and space help Gray heal old family and professional wounds enough to open his heart to love?

One runs toward …

Lauralee struggles to save the family art gallery for her aunt. Returning to Serenity Harbor is payment for her aunt’s kindness that saved her life and soul. Now she’s on a quest to find her father. Will this trip home help her learn to trust and finally convince her she can truly belong for the first time in her life?


Deb Noone said...

Thanks for having me on Romancing the Genres. I look forward to talking to folks today.


Marianne Rice said...

I love the Beauty and the Beast analogy! Spot on! Serenity Harbor has been downloaded on my Kindle for sometime...I can't wait to delve in to all the wonderful stories.

Anna Taylor Sweringen said...

Thanks for the detailed outline on the development of your project. Your roaming sheep has me intrigued. Here's to many happy sales.

Luanna Stewart said...

Perfect analogy for the heap of work that went into this endeavor. But my overall feeling is still - fun! And I'm super proud of the final product. Welcome to Serenity Harbor is a fabulous collection of stories, if I do say so myself, hehe. All of the committee and the extra helper elves deserve medals.

Susan Vaughan said...

Wonderful advice for how to organize a group anthology. Along with that, it seemed like a lot of fun for the group.

Deb Noone said...

Marianne - hope you enjoy the stories. They are all so different, yet embody the spirit of our Maine town - here's to all the authors who put their heart and soul into this project!

Deb Noone said...

Anna - the sheep idea came up at an anthology committee meeting in the middle of our retreat hotel lobby. Lots of laughing involved. But then we thought - hey, what fun. Special thanks to Meg for our sheep logo! I hope the readers enjoy finding the sheep in each story. I know I did!

Deb Noone said...

Luanna, thanks for checking in today. It is a fun anthology. And I loved your story - A Whole Lotta Love. Fair warning - if anyone is hungry when you read this story, you will be sorry - because all the descriptions of yummy baked goods will have you running to the fridge, the cupboard, the store if the cupboard is bare :-) Definitely a fun endeavor, working on this anthology!

Deb Noone said...

Thanks Susan - fun and a lot of work. And thank you for all the editing you did. We could not have put this anthology together without your help!

Beth Oliver said...

We couldn't have done this Anthology without you! Great story!

Michelle Libby said...

Our fearless leader is a wonderful job along with the committee. For some of us it was easier than others. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Barbara Rae Robinson said...

Love your detailed analysis of what it takes to put out an anthology! Kudos to you and to the whole group of authors who pulled this off!

Deb Noone said...

Beth - You were the leader of the leaders. But we were all in this together. And I know we all learned a lot about the process. I loved working with you. And I am proud of our product. Hope everyone enjoys the stories, as much as I did.

Judith Ashley said...

Deb, Thank you for guesting with us this weekend! Your post certainly shows the work that goes into creating a great anthology. And, you are so right!!! Whether it is a novel, novella, short story, flash fiction===the writing is the fun part, the publishing not as much. I do get a real sense of satisfaction when I click "publish" but that is because the 'beast' has been tamed.

Judy Gabriel said...

Wow, what an undertaking. And what an informative and fun description of the undertaking. I'm not sure all friendships would have survived. Just downloaded the sample.
Judy Gabriel/Judy Meadows

Jennifer C. Rodland said...

Thanks for sharing what goes on behind the scenes of anthologies.

Diana McCollum said...

Loved your analogy of Beauty and the Beast! The more stories and authors you have the more wrangling there is to do. I bought your book on the presell and have enjoyed reading some of the stories. I need to finish reading the rest. I really enjoyed your story "The Legacy of Parkers Point".

Kathryn Cottrell said...

Loved it!
the analogy to Beauty and the Beast is spot on.
thank you for inviting me, rather allowing me to invite myself, to the party. I loved the characters I invented and adored the others' stories.
this was a great experience for me!
Kat Henry Doran, It Had To Be You

Deb Noone said...

Hi all - I wrote comments back to everyone from Michelle through Kat but none of them went through. I will try again later once I figure out why.


Deb Noone said...

Thanks, Michelle - Beth and I shared the duties, plus had help from 4 others. So everyone gets credit, including all the authors!


Nina Pierce said...

I love love love your "Beauty and the Beast" analogy! I know it was a lot of hard work ... but the product is truly lovely! Congratulations to all the authors involved!!

Deb Noone said...

Thanks Barb, it was fun trying to come up with a way to describe the process. Since it was both hard and exhilarating. Thanks for stopping in to leave a comment!

Deb Noone said...

My pleasure, Judith. I really appreciate you giving me an opportunity to tell our tale. I can imagine hitting PUBLISH is equally as exciting as typing in THE END. Some day I'll have the guts and the knowledge to hit PUBLISH. Until then, I rely on my friend Nina of Seaside Publications. She not only give me council, but she helped all of us to get this book out in the public. She was great to work with and I learned a lot from her. But each day, I learn more and more, not only from Nina but from you and others in the Roses. Thanks!

Deb Noone said...

Judy - thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you enjoy the sample. I just discovered on Amazon the other day, that you can hit a link once you open the sample on the Amazon site, and it will take you to random parts of the anthology. Kind of fun. Of course, like it says, you might just happen upon a random scene in any one of the stories. It was fun trying to figure out how to describe the process - Beauty and the Beast seemed to fit. Luckily all our friendships are still in tack. But it took a lot of discussion and back and forth throughout the process.

Deb Noone said...

My pleasure, Jennifer. It was fun. Kind of an evaluation process for me to spell it all out.

Deb Noone said...

Thanks Diana - the fun part about writing the book was that the town we used in Maine to model Serenity Harbor after, is the area where my daughter got married. As a pantser, I had no clue where this story would go, but envisioning the real town, I knew there were tons of restaurants and galleries right by the ocean. So voila, the characters just kind of popped out on the page. Glad you enjoyed the story.

Deb Noone said...

Kat - so glad you could crash _ I, er, mean visit - the party. Of course you are welcome. Thanks - it just seemed the right analogy for all we went through to get this published. But we did it. And Kat's story is a fast-paced, sensuous story, full of quirky characters, with a great surprise ending. And of course, a hero to die for. Hope everyone enjoys all our stories, each one so different and full of voice of each author. Fun to be a part of!

Deb Noone said...

Nina, HI - you snuck in here when I wasn't looking. Glad I scrolled back through. Thank you so much for being a part of our behind-the-scenes crew. I bragged you up, up above. We could not have done this without Nina's help. The part where I suggest you line up good professional help - well that was Nina's role. Like I said - the whole project was team work.

Thanks for stopping by. And yes, we are proud of the product - thanks to your dedicated and professional help. Enjoy the stories!!!!

JB Schroeder said...

This is a great re-cap & how-to! Thank you! and PS: I am extremely envious of this Maine writer's retreat--sounds like my kind of event!!!

Deb Noone said...

Thanks, JB - glad it was helpful. Yes, our brainstorming weekend is so much fun and we get a lot of work done. We also have a writers retreat in May that is open to other writers outside our Maine group, Amazingly enough, we filled up fast and now have a waiting list for this year. It is small and intimate (around 40), but has a great reputation. We have had several from your neck of the woods join us in the past. Next year????