Friday, June 12, 2015

Could Anthologies Be Your Ticket to Publication?

by Vonda Skelton @VondaSkelton

Not long after my first children’s book, Bitsy and the Mystery at Tybee Island, came out, I had the opportunity to submit to a compilation, Mystery Readers Journal: Religious Mysteries. (And just so you know, the words “Religious” and “Christian” are not synonymous!)

I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was they were looking for writers of “religious” mysteries to share something of interest with mystery readers. Surely I had something of interest to say! 

So I wrote a piece, “Teaching Truth through Fiction,” and talked about the fact that we can teach Biblical and moral truth without preaching. I was thrilled when they accepted my article. And even though I didn’t get paid for it, it was still a good investment. 

Not only was it an opportunity to introduce mystery readers to my book, but the publication also gave me another writing credit. On top of that, “Teaching Biblical Truth through Secular Fiction” is now one of my most popular classes at writer’s conferences.

A few years later, I read of a call for submissions on stories about fathers. Being a card-carrying Daddy’s girl, I jumped at the chance to submit. What a joy to receive the acceptance letter and offer of a contract to be published in Embrace of a Father…and this time I actually got paid!

Compilations, also called anthologies, are a great way to gather some publishing credits and collect a little money along the way. Several of our readers have found quite a bit of success in this area of publishing, and many of the leads have come through the “Opportunities” list posted here the third Tuesday of every month.

Here are some things you need to know if this area of writing and publishing sounds like something you might want to consider:
  • Read the guidelines and follow the directions carefully regarding formatting, word count, etc.
  • Check the address for submission. It’s not always the same as the email of the contact person.
  • Be sure your story meets the topic guidelines. Don’t waste your time–or the editor’s–with pieces that just don’t fit.
  • Be sure you understand the rights you are giving. Many compilations allow you to keep your rights and use it again in the future, but a work-for-hire contract probably means you will not have any rights to the story after they accept it.
  • Find out if you’re able to purchase copies at a discount for resale. You can often purchase copies for about half price, allowing you to make a good profit on books you sell. Even after discounting the price to my friends and family and including free shipping, I still made almost $300 profit from the first batch of Embrace of a Father books I sold. And even though the book is now out of print, it’s still available through secondary venders on Amazon.
  • Even if you don’t receive financial compensation, reputable publishers usually at least give you a complimentary copy of the book.
  • Keep good records. It can take years for books to finally land on the bookshelves and you could forget you even submitted the story!
  • Some books use “seed stories” where the author or editor uses the gist of your story, rather than printing your actual words. In that case, you should receive an acknowledgement (usually in the back of the book), but most likely won’t be listed as the author of the story.

Does this sound like something you’d like to do? If so, check out the latest call-outs for upcoming Chicken Soup books. They could be your ticket to a writing credit AND a pay-check!

I'd love to know what experience you've had with writing for anthologies. Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


Vonda Skelton is a speaker and the author of four books: Seeing Through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe and the 3-book Bitsy Burroughs mysteries for children 8-12 yo. She’s the founder and co-director of Christian Communicators Conference, offering speakers’ training and community for Christian women called to ministry. Vonda is a frequent instructor at writer’s conferences and keynotes at business, women’s, and associational events. You can find out more about Vonda, as well as writing opportunities and instruction at her writer’s blog, The Christian Writer’s Den at


  1. Thank you Vonda. You are such a blessing. I am going to submit for Chicken Soup for the Soul

  2. Vonda,

    I once had a pen and ink drawing accepted into a university anthology. Does that count?

    Quite frankly, I've never considered this option, but it does sound intriguing.

    Thanks for the tip!

    Best wishes,


  3. well written article. Really interesting to read.

  4. I am thankful for compilations and anthologies because they are giving me the opportunity to be published in a book. I have had two acceptances from collections that will give me attribution. Even though there will be no pay, I am excited about the publication. I will continue to submit to Chicken Soup even though to date my stories have not been accepted by them. These types of books are great ways for us to get our feet wet in the publishing world.