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Managing an Anothology Project
May 30, 2008 3:16 AM   Subscribe

What should I take into consideration when spearheading an anthology project? What resources are out there for us?

I'm organizing a book project to collect real-life stories related to the Others (non-Malay/Chinese/Indian, classified as "Other" on all official documentation) in Malaysia. This only started a few days ago, so it's all planning at this stage, but currently I've built up a great team and we're discussing issues on content, definitions, research, publication, and publicity.

While some of us in the group have some experience with publishing (as a writer, editor, or just part of the process somehow), none of us really have that much experience in starting, organizing, and managing such a project. I'm doing quite a bit of brainstorming to work out what we need to consider, but would like some ideas and tips in case I left anything out.

1. Publication - I've contacted a well-known socially-conscious (and somewhat alternative, but great for our target audience) local publisher, who is interested in looking at our manuscript when we're done. Their advice was to "just do it". This is great, but I'd also like Plans B, C, D, Etc.

How else can we find possible publishers, what should we look for in a publisher, and what should we ask them? Some in our group have suggested self-publishing - what should we take into consideration about this option? What other alternative options are there? (Malaysians, particularly our target readers, are quite web-savvy, but it is a bit difficult to purchase online due to Paypal/bank restrictions.)

2. Rights - how do we manage rights and contracts with contributors? I would like the contributors to keep the copyright to their works (and give an option for a Creative Commons license), but would this be a good idea overall? We're planning on field interviews (to get stories from people who won't necessarily write their own tales, such as older folk) and may possibly deal with translations - who gets the rights to those?

3. Finances - assuming we make money out of this, what would we do with the money? I don't think we'll ever make enough to pay each contributor individually (though that would be great!!). Donating the proceeds to an NGO would be great, but our topic is in-between niche and general and there isn't a specific NGO for Malaysian Others yet.

Also, I've heard a lot about how we shouldn't pay to get something published. If we're getting published through an established publisher, are there any costs we still have to look out for? We're thinking of possibly getting sponsorship - is it worth it? Would we need sponsorship? (Perhaps to cover costs of research and compilation?) Where would be good resources for money?

4. Timelines - what's a typical timeline for this project? I was thinking 6 months - get the Call for Submissions and guidelines ready within 3-4 weeks, get submissions for about 3-4 months, edit and compile and get everything ready for publication by Month 6. Is that realistic, or too short? What's normal?

5. Team needs - currently I'm scouting people for editorials, research/field interviews, publicity/promotions, website management, and logistics/finance/publishing. What other skills and roles would we need for a project like this?

Are there any resources for managing a project like this? I've seen plenty of books and articles on non-fiction writing, but those tend to assume you're the sole writer. Any resources on managing anthologies?

Thanks so much!
posted by divabat to Media & Arts (1 answer total)
 
If the anthology gets picked up by an established, non-vanity-type publisher, your costs will be nothing. Well, except for what you spend to promote the book, since even an established publisher may not throw as much promotion money towards it as you'd like.

Six months sounds pretty tight to me; you're giving yourself two months for the editorial process, which I think is optimistic (but it depends on how many contributors you have, too). A word of advice: never, ever, ever tell a contributor the true drop-dead deadline. Tell contributors that the deadline for submissions is June 15, even if it's really July 1. Tell them the deadline for getting post-editing changes back to you is August 1, even if it's really September 1.

In the anthologies I've been in, the contracts have stipulated that they get the right for that book, but the piece still belongs to me. Some calls-for-contributions stipulate that submissions can't have been published elsewhere, and/or can't be simultaneously submitted elsewhere. Afterwards, though, it's the author's to do with as they wish.

Regarding paying the contributors: I've been paid in books (two free copies!), and in money, ranging from US$25 to US$500.
posted by rtha at 9:10 AM on May 30, 2008


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