|Patience. There's a tie-in. All will be revealed below.|
I have written extensively (here, here, and especially here) about the rebirth of that antique artform:
the novella. As I have also noted elsewhere, the novella's return to literary fashion owes much to the changes wrought by the publishing revolution of the last decade. Print-on-demand technology has given rise to a host of independent publishers willing to take chances on stories deemed not profitable by legacy publishers, and self-publishing has proven itself a viable and profitable option for many authors shut out by these same legacy publishers.
As the novella, so the anthology.
Now, I know what you're saying: "But wait a minute. Has the anthology ever really gone away?"
I take that point.
But while the anthology has never really gone away, it hasn't exactly thrived as an artform or as a commercial vehicle, either.
Instead, it's just sort of hung around.
Now, I am not dissing the anthology format. Quite the contrary. I owe the beginning of my career as a professionally paid writer of fiction to an anthology that never even saw publication.
|The Immortal (and Prolific!) Michael Bracken|
Bracken, then as now, was a publishing machine. Always working. Always churning out content. Short stories, confessional pieces, and collecting and editing short fiction anthologies for a variety of boom and bust small presses. He did it all.
City Crimes, Country Crimes was intended to be a themed anthology, with the expressed purpose of emphasizing setting as practically another character in the collected stories (think the desert in John Ford's cavalry movies). I'm a big fan of a well-drawn setting that serves as something more than a backdrop for the action in a piece of fiction, so I was especially intrigued.
Long story short: I wrote a story, submitted it, and was pleased to have it accepted. A genuine thrill to have my work recognized by a pro like Michael as publication-worthy.
Fast-forward a few months, and Michael got back to myself an all of the other projected contributors to the project with the bad news that the publisher he had lined up for this project had folded. This was when print-on-demand was still in its infancy, and e-publishing had not really taken off yet as a viable outlet for one's work product.
So the project was scrapped. All that hard work (especially on Michael's part!) down the tubes.
Come to find out that this sort of thing happened a LOT. Especially with anthologies.
And then along came Amazon and its Kindle game-changer. But wait...I'm getting ahead of myself. More on that paradigm shredder in later (I promise).
Anyway, so I was left with this pretty decent short story, an orphan for which I needed to find a home. It was crime fiction, set in frontier Montana during the Cheyenne uprising circa 1873.
|Speaking of prolific! R.T. Lawton, ladies and gents!|
AHMM accepted it, and this story, "Counting Coup," was the first piece of fiction I got well and truly paid for (I'd already made a bit of money writing book-length nonfiction).
And it all started with a promising anthology that never got off the ground. So thanks (again) to Michael Bracken for believing in my work, and to R.T. Lawton for the same thing.
In two weeks, the next round of my long association with anthologies: my first experience collecting and editing one!