Creating an Anthology: World Enough and Crime

Donna Sara3 June 14On October 26, 2014, Carrick Publishing will launch World Enough and Crime, a crime fiction anthology featuring 22 authors. I’m proud to say that I am included amongst this very accomplished group. Recently, I sat down with Donna Carrick to find out more about Carrick Publishing, and what it takes to create an anthology. Here’s what she had to say:

Judy Penz Sheluk: Tell me a bit about Carrick Publishing, and why you decided to publish an anthology of crime fiction.

Donna Carrick: Alex and I founded Carrick Publishing in 2010. We saw a need for quality Independent books and e-books, in the face of a rapidly changing publishing industry.

Initially, we set about publishing our own works (both Alex and I are authors), but before long, we were working closely with a wide range of writers from a variety of genres.

In 2012, Alex came up with the idea for a Facebook group where readers and authors could find each other. He called it the Excerpt Flight Deck for Readers and Authors. Together, we implemented the group and invited authors to share excerpts from their works with potential readers.

When I saw the quality of the excerpts being shared at our group page, I realized many of these writers were not enjoying the exposure they deserved.

In hopes of rectifying that, in 2012 we published the first Excerpt Flight Deck (EFD) cross-genre, multi-author anthology: EFD1: Starship Goodwords.

We put the call out through our Excerpt Flight Deck group, and in very short order we had the makings of a book, containing 21 original stories and poems from a variety of genres.

It has always been our intention to continue publishing the EFD Anthology series, and to continue to support our Excerpt Flight Deck authors to the best of our ability.

This year’s anthology is crime-themed, as is obvious from the title: World Enough And Crime.

In 2016, we plan to follow with our third anthology, theme to be announced in 2015.

JPS: You accepted submissions of 800-6,000 words from June 12th to July 31st. How did you get the word out and what sort of response did you get?

DC: Alex and I maintain a strong social media presence. In fact, we’ve presented a number of workshops over the years on the effective use of social media in building an Author Platform.

We announced the call for submissions primarily through our Carrick Publishing website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. In addition, our Canadian networks, including the Mesdames of Mayhem and Sisters in Crime, helped to get the word out quickly.

Response was overwhelming. In a matter of weeks, we had received numerous stories to choose from.

JPS: World Enough and Crime includes 22 short stories and one poem. Did you have a specific number of stories in mind when you sent the callout, or a cutoff point?

DC: We didn’t know what to expect in terms of story length or number of submissions. Of course, the time-deadline was July 31, and we’d already determined that would be a firm cutoff. However, we received everything we needed well before that date.

In the back of our minds, we expected at least a few of the stories would be flash-fiction, and we were right. That allowed us to accept a higher number of stories than we might otherwise.

My plan was to create a book not exceeding 85K words. I wanted to leave plenty of room for author bios, photos and links. After all, the aim is to promote these writers!

If the book is too lengthy, readers may lose interest.

If it’s too slender, it creates a weak-looking Print edition, and the appearance of offering poor value for readers.

Our finished anthology will come in at almost exactly 80 K.

Needless to say, we are pleased!

JPS: What process did you use to determine which submissions would be included in the anthology?

DC: Quality. We want an anthology we’ll be proud to send to reviewers, and stories we feel are strong enough to enter for Awards contests.

Readability. We have to enjoy the story. Even if it isn’t our usual cup of tea, we have to recognize the author’s strength of voice from beginning to end.

Appropriateness. That’s a mouthful, and admittedly it could be seen as a subjective measure. However, our audience for this series of EFD anthologies is diverse. We won’t include stories that might give obvious and blatant offense to readers, even if we personally enjoy the story. To do so would diminish the promotional value of the antho for all other contributing authors.

Diversity. Like most people, we hate to be bored. Our anthology includes stories set all over the world, with characters and voices that are often loveable and always distinct, and situations that will surprise and delight the most discerning of readers.

Other than that, we have no fixed prejudices. We love to see a really expansive range of authors and stories in our anthos.

After all, that’s the point we’re trying to get across: ours is an exciting world full of talented writers, who deserve to be recognized!

JPS: To the authors, acceptance means their job is pretty much done (outside of promotion). To the publisher, it’s just the beginning. What’s involved with compiling an anthology for publication, from cover art to editing and formatting to getting it up on Amazon, Kindle, Kobo, iTunes and B&N?

DC: Great timing for this question, Judy, as I’m currently embroiled in the second full-scale edit of the anthology. So, point by point, here are the key factors that go into creating a great anthology, once the stories have been nailed down:

  • Editing. Absolutely critical. At Carrick Publishing, we take great pride in the anthologies we’ve produced, including THIRTEEN by the Mesdames of Mayhem.
  • Layout of Stories. This is very important. We want an order for the stories that will hold attention, and carry readers to the final page. We try to sprinkle the more humorous stories throughout, to help lighten the mood, since Crime is, by its nature, darker than most genres.
  • World Enough and CrimeCover art. Unless you are a qualified graphic artist, I don’t recommend a DIY approach. We’re extremely fortunate to have our own Carrick artist, Sara Carrick. She designed the covers for Starship Goodwords, THIRTEEN, and again for World Enough And Crime. I particularly love this latest cover. It portrays the theme of the book perfectly: a great, wide world of Crime.
  • Formatting. A clean, clear interior appearance for both the printed book and the e-books is important. Readers should know they’ve invested in something worthwhile. Shoddy formatting will put readers off as quickly as poor spelling and/or grammar will. In some cases, even more quickly, since the formatting quality is visible before one even begins to read. Having produced nearly 70 titles to date, we’ve developed a formatting style that presents itself well over all major platforms.
  • Promotion. One of the truly magical things about anthologies is that, as an author or a publisher, you are not alone. Each contributing author has a stake in the success of the book.

In my experience, anthologies are a wonderful way for authors of all stripes to get their names “out there.” We make every effort to ensure each author is featured in his or her best light, so the reader can easily connect and learn more.

As publisher, we consistently use our platforms to promote all of our works. With each contributing author sharing the promotional work, the load is greatly eased on the publisher!

Judy, on behalf of Alex, myself and Carrick Publishing, I’d like to thank you. We’re thrilled that your excellent story LIVE FREE OR DIE will be featured in World Enough And Crime.

Thank you as well for inviting us to share our thoughts on this creative journey with your readers!

JPS: Thank you, Donna.

Donna Carrick is the author of three mystery novels: The First Excellence ~ Fa-ling’s Map, Gold And Fishes and The Noon God. The First Excellence won the 2011 Indie Book Event Award. Her story WATERMELON WEEKEND was a finalist for the 2014 Arthur Ellis Best Short Story Award. 

Alex Carrick is the author of four books of short stories. Four Scoops Is Over The Top features CABOOSE FOLLIES, which received Honorable Mention in the 2011 Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition. Three Scoops Is A Blast! includes the 2010 Lorian Hemingway Honorable Mention winner, THE SIZE OF THE SKIP.

EFD2 - World Enough LAUNCHJoin Carrick Publishing’s Cyber Launch for World Enough And Crime on Facebook on Sunday, October 26, 2014, 2 to 6 p.m. EST.

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