Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Quick Re-Direct: SF Novelists

Just FYI, I posted a blog over at SF Novlists today on my take on anthologies called "To Theme or Not to Theme."

The question I ask there, I'd also like to ask here. Themed anthologies are becoming quite popular among the paranormal romance reading set. What do you think of them? Are you a short story reader in general? What do you think might account for the sudden popularity of these kinds of anthologies?

Oh, [insert shameless plug here], if you *do* like them, I have a short story called "Fire and Ice and Linguine for Two" now available in Many Bloody Returns edited by by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner (Ace Hardcover, Sept. 2007, 978-0441015221).


Douglas Hulick said...

I never thought much about this, but looking at my shelf, I find tend to read "Best of [insert genre here]" or short story collections by a single author.* Themed anthologies, while a neat idea, tend to run uneven at best between the covers, IMO. That unevenness can take lots of forms - poor writing, a piece obviously straining to fit the theme, rehashing of a well-worn idea in a not terribly original way - but it tends to bring the whole book down for me. I find I often end up skipping around a collection like that, or even skipping number of the stories all together. For the most part, unless I am really taken, I can get my short fiction fix through magazines (less money on average) or the occasional single author collections (same cost, but more consistent quality).

From a marketing and editing stand point, I can see where they make a lot of sense. And I can see how many readers might be enticed to buy, either because of the niche subject matter, or the presence of a few name writers in a collection.

Here's a question: is the investment, in terms of money, for a publishing house less with an anthology than it is for a novel? Are the sales number comparable, or is the profit margin in fact higher because everyone is writing "short"?

*= The most notable exception on my shelf are the shared-world anthologies/collections that were all the rage back in the day. Even then, though, some grabbed me ("Thieves' World"), while others didn't ("Wild Cards"). And honestly, I haven't read any of those kinds of collections in ages, either.

Janice said...

I love a nice anthology. Usually some author I like is what draws me in and then I'll find a new author I'd never read before in there too. And I like reading one short story at a time and being able to take a break before reading the next. You really get to savor the book when it's naturally set up that way.
And I'm going to look into getting "Many Bloody Returns". It looks promising.

writtenwyrdd said...

I generally do not like short stories, but I can understand the draw of short paranormal romances: They are fluffy, quick reads. I've bought exactly two.

Kelly Swails said...

I like anthos because they're great to read before bed-read a story or two, get sleepy, turn off the light. None of this nail-biting, staying-up-until-3 a.m. business. I agree that the quality can be spotty, at times, but they're a great way for a new author to sort of break in and get exposure (speaking as an author that has hopefully done just that).

Stephanie Zvan said...

I pick up anthologies, in part, because a couple of my favorite writers do a lot of shorts. That, and I love short stories.

I prefer anthologies to magazines for SF&F, which I attribute to how magazine editors in the field tend to value pure novelty (much higher than I do). The few mystery magazines out there are quite good, though, and I don't read many mystery anthologies.

I feel pretentious reading "best" anthologies, and shared-world books bother me when multiple writers write about the same characters (I don't read much pastiche either). So themed anthologies it is.

And it's always fun to watch good writers riff.

Anonymous said...

I usually only read anthologies for one or two authors and interlibrary loan them.

Short stories aren't my thing, whether for reading or writing, so when I buy wordy things, they're novels. I've been experimenting, though, because more reading always helps.

I grabbed a couple that way a bit ago, and wound up reading more as it made for a good excuse to research the puzzling creature of the short story. :D

I would think they work wonderfully for exposure.