Friday, October 21, 2005

PANEL: Christian Anthologies



Dena Dyer, Mary Griffith, Sabra Robinson, Jacquelin Thomas, Robin Bayne

What makes a good anthology?

How does one become part of anthology?

How to start anthologies?

Do you want to know the answer to these questions and others. This is the place to find out.

Please read the previous comments before you post, so we don’t have duplicate questions.

Please address your question to a panel member or all panel members.

Click on the comments link to post a question. Don’t forget your registration #


Robin Bayne said...

Hi everyone! I thought I'd kick off the discussion by saying I read and write fiction and non-fiction, and look forward to your questions. I'm glad to be here and want to thank LaShaunda for hosting this conference! (Badge 18)

Jacquelin Thomas said...

I'd like to thank LaSaunda for including me in this year's conference. If this is your first time attending--Welcome and I'm sure you'll have a great time. I look forward to your questions.
(Badge 31)

Elaine said...

Hi, I'm Elaine and I'd love to know which 'ingredients' make the best anthology stories.

I have lots of personal experiences but don't know what to do with them to turn them into something an anthology would want.

Thanks for giving your time to this conference. I really do appreciate it.

Elaine (Badge 23)

Robin Bayne said...

Hi Elaine, Good question! In my experience the true-life anecdotes which make the best anthology entries do 2 things--

1) support the theme of that collection
(ex: motivating students or consoling those who have lost family members)

2) strike an emotional chord in the reader. Was your experience intense or surprising enough to make the reader say "Awwwww" or "Aha!" or even "How sweet?"

If possible, review other anthologies in the series you are shooting for to see what they publish. Series like Chicken Soup, God's Way, Soul Matters, Cup of Comfort, etc., have already published volumes you can study.

If it's a new anthology, try to find similar ones to see what type of stories it contains. Then do something a little different, but maybe in the same format.

Consider the theme of your target anthology--for example, I wrote a piece based on an experience I had with a childhood bully. I have sold it twice to anthologies--once to one aimed at women, once to an anthology geared toward teens. I had learned something from the experience, and that's what made my piece interesting to readers.

Some collections want you to tie your experience to a Bible verse. Some revolve around a target audience (men, women, students, patients, nurses, etc.)

One great resource I've found for finding markets is They also have a monthly featured writer--any writer can apply.

Robin, Badge 18

Shelia said...

I have a couple of ideas for anthologies. How would one go about getting other authors to participate? Do they all have to be under the same publisher or is it as simple as asking the author directly if they want to contribute?

Shelia said...

sorry forgot to add my badge...badge # 16

essence4real said...

Thanks Robin. The information you have provided so far is great.

Question: If I were to start an anthology, would you suggest a website for potential writers?

LaTara Badge #27

Jacquelin Thomas said...

Hi Everyone:

Your questions are great! My experience in participating in a anthology is different in that all of the ones I've done outside of Blessed Assurance has been by invitation from the publisher. I've never been a novella or short story writer--I'm too long-winded : ) With Blessed Assurance, I was on tour with the authors and together we came up with an idea for readers to be able to take home a sample of each of our work. With 6 authors together--people aren't always able to purchase a book from each other, so we thought this was a solution for them. Unfortunately, I don't really have any advice on pitching an anthology or selecting authors. I think Robin's comment was on point, however. (Badge 31)

Robin Bayne said...

Sheila--when I compiled a writer's handbook last year, I invited authors from all of the writing organizations I belong to. The ones who were interested submitted their work--if you are not already a member of several online groups, you might want to consider joining. Most are through yahoogroups.
I am not sure I understand your question about being under one publisher.

For non-fiction, I seek writers from my groups as I said. Several times I've participated in romance fiction anthologies, and my co-authors have also been found from my groups.

In one instance I asked 3 novelists from my first publisher, and we decided on a theme and compiled a 4-novella collection. (The theme was 'shapeshifters.') Later, I asked 3 authors who had already been published by the publisher I am targeting to compile a set of novellas with me. We agreed on a theme, came up with our story ideas and pitched them to the editor. (In most cases you will have to submit complete books if writing fiction).

LaTara, a website isn't a bad idea to attract writers, but it might be hard getting them there to see your invitation. I really think your online (or local) writer's groups are the best way to invite submissions. You could send a message to each group announcing your call for submissions, then have them visit your site for the details.

--Robin, Badge 18

rootwomin said...

i'm wondering about the legalities of publishing an anthology.

have either of the panelists published an anthology and if so, where did you find your basic anthology contracts? or did you have a attorney create one for you?

i am working on a anthology and would like to take a basic contract to my attorney and have it modified as opposed to having the attorney create one from scratch in order to save $$$ and time.

thanks alot!

Robin Bayne said...

Hi Meri--another good question. In each of my anthologies, whether I assemble it or I am just a contributor, the actual publisher provided the contract.

Are you planning on submitting it to a publisher? You may want to read Terry Whalin's book on non-fiction proposals.

Or self-publishing? For self, I would have to defer to one of our other panelists. That said, I can give you a good source of info on self-publishing--read Dan Poynter's books (Google search him)--he's an expert.

Robin, Badge 18

rootwomin said...

Hi Robin,

Thanks for the swift reply!
I am self publishing and I'm familiar with Dan Poynter's book as well. He mentions contracts but doesn't give an example. I've found some examples of them on the net but I think I may actually save time by going ahead and having the attorney do the research and put one together. I see it all as the cost of learning and once I have it the investment will be worthwhile because I'll be able to adjust it and use it in future projects.

Thanks Again,
Meri #129

Shelia said...

Jacqueline and Robin, thanks. In reference to my question about being under one publisher--I was wondering if that was a requirement due to legal reasons.

Shelia (Badge#16)

Tempie said...

Good Morning Ladies, I'm Tempie badge #151...First I want to say thanks again to LaShaunda for hosting such an informative on-line conference and next say thanks to each of the talented authors on the panel.

*My question- this morning is directed to Robin. Robin I'm very proud of you and I briefly visited your your work! I will be getting more of your work! I am a new author with my first fiction Novel about to be published by a traditional publisher which I love their entire publishing process. It is in text editing production as we speak and could be in print 6-8 weeks. I have over 25 yrs sales and marketing experience and have met many different successful people in my 51 yrs of living. *Just met IMAN yesterday at her booksigning and she told me she was 50...she is history!

*My first Novel is named FEELINGS by is dedicated to the memory of both my parents who recently passed a month apart and my brother years ago. It has a subtle christian undertone in it. *It brought so much healing for me and I thank God.

Now my question to contract with my publisher and copyright covers the legalities of my work...however since I am now introduced to anthologies I would like to embark in doing them as well. Is there a special format in writing them as compared to fiction or non-fiction stories, in terms of character and plot development in reaching your readers? What would you suggest would be a good starting point for one such as myself with many personal stories (uplifting testimonies as well as tragedies) that I would prefer not to use real names but would like the stories to somehow send strong messages that may aid in the healing process of others especially death by natural means and suicide and also pysclogical issues such as manic depression, etc... *I also have my and worked in heathcare and mgmt for over 25

***I welcome any and all of your as well and any of the other panel comments and or suggestions!

Thanks Tempie

essence4real said...

Thank you Jaqueline and Robin. Your experience in this area is giving me some great ideas and sending me down the right road.

God's blessings upon you both.

LaTara Badge #27

Robin Bayne said...

Good morning!

Shelia, if you are compiling work by authors that was previously published, it would be easier to collect more than one from each publisher --seeking permission to reprint them if necessary. If the author only sold first-time rights to that publisher, she can re-sell it to another compiler as long as there was no prior agreement about reselling to competing anthologies. For example, one story I sold to a women's anthology asked me not to re-sell the same story to their competition--such as a Chicken Soup collection.

If you are compiling all pieces never before published, you will want one publisher to do the entire collection. Let me know if you have a specific situation to ask about : )

Tempie--thanks so much for your kind words, and Congrats on your first novel sale!! Your years in marketing should really help you get your book in the public eye. For your personal stories, see my post above about the ingredients you should have and aiming it toward a certain theme. Your degree in health care would be an excellent selling point to a publisher should you present an anthology of related stories!

Tempie said...

Robin..thank you so much for all of your input and for being so prompt!!!

You have certainly answered my questions and put me in the right direction. I'm visiting your site and the other sites you and the others have recommended also.

*Did I read somewhere, you and Writer's Digest Workshop??? I ask because I have attended the Writer's Digest Novel Writing Workshop School ten years's obstacles prevented me from graduating but it proved to be one of the best investments toward my writing career. Thank You again!!!
Tempie badge #151

Robin Bayne said...

Tempie--It was a few years ago when Barnes & Noble stores all over the country held simultaneous writing workshops. I was one of the instructors at the Towson, Maryland store. This was a one-day event-- if you mean the long-term novel writing correspondence course, that's something different. But I attended that as a student : )

My very first novel, a Civil War time-travel romance, was written while I took the WD novel course. This was before the 'net was big, and I took the course by snail-mail. I found it very helpful : )

--Robin, Badge 18

Tempie said...

Robin...Thanks...that's exactly what I was talking about...the Writer's Digest Novel Writing Course.I took it as a student also...snail-mail and am contacting the author that was assigned to me at the

*People laugh at me now when I tell them then there was really no internet and all this ten years ago...I mean I had a typewriter and paper and *Enough of me...back to the discussion...

Thanks Tempie, Badge #151

SORMAG said...

I'm so grateful I decided to do the blog instead of the forum, because with the blog it could take care of itself.

Don't tell me the Lord won't make a way. He always shows up when we need him.

First I want to thank the panel for participating today.

Robin and Jaquie thanks for stopping by and sharing your wisdom. I truly appreciate it.

Enjoy the conference.

LaShaunda 00

Sabra said...


Sabra said...

What makes a good ingredient?

Great question as well. In my opinion and the feedback I've received from my book, The Lost Sheep, the readers enjoyed hearing the 'real deal,' the truth in your story. My book is geared toward what I call 'church folk,' as well as non believers. But it mostly is getting around the church by word of mouth. It includes great testimonies that some may consider what the writing world stays away from - preachiness. And others that are conservative stories. It's just not meant for one type of audience. Be truthful, don't hold back, someone needs to be blessed by your 'down-to-the-bone' testimony and know that they are not the only ones 'going through.' I have some raw information in the book, I have some conservative testimonies as well. Be creative though, use your imagination. My book includes poems, illustrations, scriptures, etc. I was blessed to have contributors submit their information. Many have already been blessed by it so, be creative. Pray and ask God to give you a creative voice, a creative hand to write your anthology. Yet, seek advice as well, as in what you did. I'm just providing you what worked for others that have been blessed by the book.

Sabra #30

Sabra said...

How would one go about getting other authors to participate?

In my case, I received my submissions via posting to other online writers groups and get this, Dan Poynter has an Announcement section in his newsletter. I placed a (free) ad in his newsletter and received some inquiries. I also went to and placed my ad there as well. Submit a free press release via You'd be surprised how many other online news sites receive press releases from and cut/paste it onto their website. I would also suggest googling using the phrase 'anthology submission.' If you go to my website ( and click on the Anthology/Tips link, it also provides a few anthologies that are seeking submissions. You may want to go there and send them an email with your question. I did receive a reply from them when I started my anthology - wanted to obtain some info about how they got started as well.

I truly hope this has helped and thanks LaShanda for inviting me!

Sabra #30

Sabra said...

Is there a special format in writing them as compared to fiction or non-fiction stories, in terms of character and plot development in reaching your readers?

Tempie, email me off line and I can forward you a sample of my contract that the contributors agreed to. I had it posted online for a while but took it off to prepare for my 2nd anthology.

Sabra #30
(sorry all, had business to take care of today so sorry I'm late in all of this but great questions!)

Sabra said...

Question: If I were to start an anthology, would you suggest a website for potential writers?


I created a special MEET THE CONTRIBUTORS page for my contributors. Half do not have websites of their own so I just requested their picture and created a webpage just for them. Go here: and click on the MEET THE CONTRIBUTORS link in the middle section of the web page.

Sabra #30

Sabra said...

Question: If I were to start an anthology, would you suggest a website for potential writers


I created a page on my website with my contributors picture. Over half of my contributors do not have web pages so I created on for them. Go here: and click in the middle section where it says MEET THE CONTRIBUTORS.

Sabra #30

Tempie said...

Sabra...Thanks so very much for all of your input and answering my questions!

I will be contacting you offline for that information.

*Again, I thank each of you ladies on the panel as well as each of the participants and LaShaunda for providing such great information. As a new author I admire each of you for your hard work and great accomplishments and realize how valuable your comments are.
Thanks Again
Tempie Badge #151

Robin Bayne said...

You are so welcome, and I thank you all for being here too. It was fun to meet you. See you in an anthology some time!

Robin, #18

upwords said...

I think all the questions I could speak to here have been answered fairly thoroughly, but I'll go ahead and chime in. I've been a part of several nonfiction anthologies: Chicken Soup for the Christian Woman's Soul, Cup of Comfort Devotional, For Better or For Worse Devotional, and the Crumbs in the Keyboard anthology. For fiction, I have a short story in Proverbs for the People (Kensington, 2003).

I am now in the process of publishing my first nonfiction anthology ( and it's been a great experience so far. I did send out invitations for submissions to several writing lists, groups and blogs and many writers responded.

As someone else said, I think emotion is a key ingredient in a good anthology piece as well as conciseness and material in accordance with submission guidelines. I wish everyone success in their anthology endeavors.

Mary Griffith

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