I received a credit of 7 cents in royalties this quarter for my story, Agent of God, published in an anthology by Wolfsinger publishing. (Click). The company bought my piece outright, so I didn’t expect much of a royalty, especially as profits are shared with 30 other writers and the publisher. But there it was. Seven cents. I tip my hat to the publisher. At least there’s an accounting.
Anthologies come in different flavors and some, frankly, are little more than vanity presses in disguise. I’m talking about the publishers who pay nothing for your story, not even a courtesy copy, then offer to sell you the book in which your work appears at a “discounted” price. The discount isn’t much and sale price significant. These publishers make money, not in the open market, but by selling their books to the authors, their friends and family — a vanity publication.
I fell for this marketing inadvertently, recently, though I got the publisher’s name from a reputable source. Looking back at the poor editing, I suspect producing a quality book wasn’t the company’s aim. Too bad, because I gave them a thoughtful piece.
Because I made a stupid mistake, I want to prevent other authors from doing likewise. Getting an acceptance letter is exciting but it can be costly if your vanity overrules your brains and you fail to examine the terms of getting into print.
My advice to writers would be to avoid anthologies and work with periodicals, magazines that have a regular publication schedule. If you do consider an anthology, accept offers from those that pay upfront. Complimentary copies are a form of payment, by the way, which small and academic presses sometimes use. Avoid any company that provides neither an upfront payment or a complimentary copy, but instead, offers to sell the book to you at a discounted price. These are the publishers who are living off your vanity.