05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Not the Anthology of Your Childhood Anymore!

by M. L. Buchman

As a young reader I was totally addicted to anthologies, especially in science fiction. I read almost every single anthology of Issac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke short stories. I particularly loved their interstitial introductions to tell me the background of their stories. I also was a rabid reader of Hugo and Nebula Award anthologies.

Version 1: Anthology Magazine
Then I sidetracked into novels for a long time and actually forgot about my love of the short form. When I became a writer, that carried over. "I don't read short stories, why would I write them?" I kept saying that until an editor got sick of it and said, "I'm making you a lead name in an anthology magazine, get over it. It's title is Christmas Ghosts." "But I don't write ghosts!" I won't use the adjective fulminating to describe her look as she's also a I'll just go with "disgusted."

So I entered the land of anthologies and short fiction as a writer simultaneously:

Okay, so this looks like a perfectly normal anthology from my childhood: a theme, an editor, and multiple authors who were all paid up front. Except it isn't. This is issue #4 in a bimonthly magazine that now is coming up on four years and I've been in several other issues and, I'm told, will be in more to come.

Less than ten years ago this would have been incomprehensible. There are no ads, they pay pro-rates (and no, sorry, they don't accept queries or submissions of any sort). This would have been insupportable in the past. Thanks to modern publishing (e-book and POD and DIY audio) it is now completely viable.

Version 2: My Own Yearly Best Of!
I then took that idea to heart and created my yearly Ides of Matt series. Once my "I don't write short" was busted over my friend's knee, I discovered that I loved writing short stories. For over three years now, I have been writing short stories and releasing them for free on my website ( at the same time I publish them. I've especially fallen in love with writing romance short stories.

Which had led me to creating my own annual anthologies with introductions for each story.
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But it just keeps getting better:

Version 3: Cooperative Anthology (Box Set / Collection / Bundles)
We all know what they are now. A box set used to be a true rarity (the complete Anne of Green Gables for example), and they literally came in a box. Now authors are creating massive ones with thirty novels all by different authors and smaller ones by two.

I'm presently doing one of the latter with the amazing Regency author Grace Burrowes. As my specialty is military romantic suspense, common ground appeared illusive. But we both wanted to set a story in the ranch country beneath Montana's Big Sky.

Well, no one in traditional publishing would have touched us with a ten-foot pole. Frankly, we'd have been laughed from the room even though we both write contemporary romance's just not either of our core audiences.

But this is the new age, so that didn't stop us.
More Info / Pre-order links
What's perhaps even more curious, we're doing it as a 90-day box set (as in"Grab It Now, Or It's Gone!" marketing mentality). Utterly impossible to our old mindset of how publishing works...worked. Hmm...

Version 4: Unbound Anthology
Sometimes the titles aren't even sold together! I recently participated in a project called Titan World. Ten authors writing separate titles, all linked to an eleventh author's world (Cristin Harber, by permission and with contracts in place). It is more a cooperative marketing tool than an anthology, but it still fits the definition of one...doesn't it? Common theme, multiple authors. But no longer one set? But it is an anthology, they're all set within a single world. Double hmmm...
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Version 5: "Limited by Your Imagination" Anthology
With the changes in technology and delivery now available to authors, the possibilities of ways to anthologize are unlimited! I can't wait to see what happens next.

M.L. Buchman started the first of over 50 novels while flying from South Korea to ride his bicycle across the Australian Outback. Part of a solo around the world trip that ultimately launched his writing career.

All three of his military romantic suspense series—The Night Stalkers, Firehawks, and Delta Force—have had a title named “Top 10 Romance of the Year” by the American Library Association’s Booklist. NPR and Barnes & Noble have named other titles “Top 5 Romance of the Year.” In 2016 he was a finalist for Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA award. He also writes: contemporary romance, thrillers, and fantasy.

Past lives include: years as a project manager, rebuilding and single-handing a fifty-foot sailboat, both flying and jumping out of airplanes, and he has designed and built two houses. He is now making his living as a full-time writer on the Oregon Coast with his beloved wife and is constantly amazed at what you can do with a degree in Geophysics. You may keep up with his writing and receive a free starter e-library by subscribing to his newsletter at:


Sarah Raplee said...

You name the type of anthology, you've been in one, Matt! Your post got me thinking of all the possibilities! As always, you are entertaining and informative.

Diana McCollum said...

Very interesting! I never thought there were so many different types of anthologies. Great post!

SusanD said...

Matt!! You have certainly covered the ball park. Is her story in MONTANA SKY a full-length novel? or a story?

You are certainly inventive.

M. L. Buchman said...

The Big Sky Ever After is two full-length novels.
The Titan World (uncollected) range from my full novel down to short stories and everything in between.

Actually, in what is possible (and in what will be possible in the next several months), I feel as if I've barely scratched the surface in what is possible in the world of anthologies. (Hence my point #5. There's a lot of fun stuff coming! And that's only the things I've heard about!)

Deb Noone said...

Matt - I am finally catching up with blog posts. What an interesting narrative of the evolving anthology world. Just preordered your Big Sky boxed set. Can't wait to read it.

Several of my author friends have embarked on the World Building adventure -linking up with another author's world. It is definitely an interesting twist, and gives newer authors a chance to be linked to authors with name recognition, yet have the freedom to tell their own story around a few parameters.

Thanks for the information. As Sarah said, so many possibilities to think about. And who knows - one of us may come up with a new version. My critique partner has partnered up with a string of authors who publish their books separately, but all revolve around a single element - the series is called Enchanted Elements - and each book features a magical love locket and a woman who has been "doomed by a spell" to match couples up - the stories range from historical to contemporary. So lots of fun going on in the writing world, creating different versions of the "anthology."


M. L. Buchman said...

Hi Deb, Yes, I and 10 other authors did that in the Titan World project. Cristin Harber contractually released certain aspects of her Team Titan military romantic suspense and said, "Go for it!" These were never collected into a single set, but are rather marketed together but sold separately. The Night Stalkers 5E "Target of Mine" was my contribution and it was an absolute BLAST!