What goes in to making an anthology?

I arrived back from Arvon Lumb Bank last month full of poetry ideas and inspiration only to learn that I would be full time/overtime for at least three weeks – back in the day job before I’d even unpacked the car on that Saturday afternoon. At last things are – hopefully – back to what passes for normal in our strange nether-world, though I shall do some extra days for a while, as needed.

Meanwhile: Malvern Writers’ Circle last produced an anthology for its diamond jubilee, five years ago, so we’d decided in the spring it was high time we made another and we’d have it ready for our November meeting. It’s great to have a sample record of the MWC’s output at a particular time, plus it’s good practice for those who might consider subbing work further afield. I’d blithely agreed to edit again, having done the jubilee production and several Young Writer editions; I can manage gutters and styles (just about).

Attempting to fit this around the day job has brought home just how much work goes in to even small projects like this.

Circle members seemed to think a new anthology would be a great idea. But no one sent any work for ages; we reminded at each meeting plus emails for three months or so before, finally, it trickled in. In terms of submitting work for publication, it is good practice to proof-read it and polish it before sending. Obviously this doesn’t apply when it’s to something local, judging by some of the submissions, alas. Please check spellings – it’s easy on a computer; please remove random extra spaces – it’s easy on a computer; please format at least consistently with whatever peculiar non-standard system you aspire to; if possible, aspire to a house style from a sensible journal. Yes, that’s a grumble. Also formatting of subs induced grumbling. Don’t use [return] for your line ends (which will not be the final line ends) in prose; don’t use the space bar for formatting EVER, EVER, EVER if you are subbing electronically. Your editor will sob onto her keyboard – or at least swear a few choice Anglo-Saxon epithets as she globally changes it all and then finds she’s buggered-up someone else’s work in the process. At least no one sent paper work in italics or gothic script (impossible to scan); paper presentations were all neatly Times Roman or similar 12-point – hurrah! and thank you!

I did amend one person’s biography to include ‘…and missing deadlines’ (tch, naughty me – wonder how long before he notices?) as it only arrived a couple of days before printing and binding commenced and he has form on such matters. I considered adding, ‘Favourite literary characters: Eeyore, Marvin the Paranoid Android and Grumpy Cat,’ to my own bio, as well, yeah. New boxed paper from Viking turned out to be hopeless and refused to double-side properly but a dash to Wilco for cellophane-wrapped reams cured that glitch. Printer in basement office but computer upstairs in the kitchen meant a lot of running up and down BUT we had a really lovely Sunday afternoon of warm team-work putting together the printed book with the circle’s binder and Pat Tromans (Just Write)’s binder both busy at the kitchen table, so here are some pictures of the team and The pecan & coffee cake. Three hours, sixty copies: ready for Wednesday night.


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7 Responses to What goes in to making an anthology?

  1. Oooh, I’m liking the look of that coffee and pecan cake – bet the anthology will be equally delicious :)

  2. Ron says:

    People do tend to take advantage of others when they can eh? I never knew about “return”, though can’t imagine a reason to use it before a paragraph break. Lovely cake:)

  3. Have to say I don’t think there are any excuses left these days for poor formatting – especially using the SPACE BAR!!! There are so many free online learning resources available (JFGI…) – plus of course the ‘phone a friend’ option… all it takes is a bit of time and effort.
    Coffee and pecan cake looks good – bet it didn’t last long! :)

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