… do you sometimes wonder about how an anthology comes together?
Hard to believe I know, but I have mixed feelings about anthologies.
I love the diversity of voices and stories; however, they can be such a hit and miss in terms of the quality of the work included.
What really gets me, though, is the way some of them end. For example, when you finish and think “well, overall it was relatively interesting but what the hell was with that last short?!”
It just strikes me that publishers and/or editors of anthologies need to really, REALLY, carefully consider the way an anthology is structured, similar to the way an author does with the story itself.
Leaving the reader with a raised eyebrow at the completion of a book of shorts will colour their impression of the work as a whole.
At least it does for me.
Have any of you had similar reactions??
I'm not big on big anthologies. Maybe I have reading ADD but I don't want to read 10 stories about werewolves. I get too bored before the end and if I stop I'll likely never go back. About 3 in a book is right for me. Because I don't often buy them I don't have a lot of experience with the issue although that did happen once with a series of shorts about the beach, like, like, huh? It wasn't bad, the other two were short little romances with HEAs and this was “Hi, I'm Jimmy, lets f*ck like rabbits. Okay, lets go.” It was kind of out of left field for me.
I think that's a good point though when you have a bunch of different writers as opposed to a collection of stories by the same author. Some will seem like better warm-ups and some nice finishers. I suppose there are some publishers who think about that and others who offer a first come first served or alphabetical process. No idea.
I agree, but I'm just stuck by the synergy of your reading list where two covers that used the same stock photo have ended up side by side.
Well, surprise, surprise. I actually have wondered about this.
I've only been part of one antho and had no say in it whatsoever. EC took its Valentine's Day “Quickies” from one year (can't remember which; 2007 maybe), divided them into two groups, and published them in print format. I think I've so far made about $9.73 on Candy Cravings (kid you not on the title), and that's likely on the high side.
I know some publishers put out submission calls for anthologies. Other collections are probably dreamt up by the authors themselves. That's all I know. It's been my experience that most are uneven in terms of quality (although I enjoyed most of Blind Eye's Tangle).
Wow, eagle eye there Sean.
$9 worth of candy might cure your craving KZ. (For some reason when I look at that my brain says Candy CARVINGS. A story about a sculptor who uses candy to make his creations.)
Lets hope that the DSP anthology was not well thought about because IMO the last story was not the one that should be last.
Which one would, I have no idea (as yet) but I am sure that there were others better suited.
I quite like anthologies, although I tend to treat them like shorts and read them over a period of time whilst having a novel on the go too. In fact I'm reading one at the moment from TQ (I'm only 2 stories in at the moment and so far so good).
I do buy quite a lot of the DSP anthologies because they often have stories from authors I like like Sean or Clare or Chrissy Munder. I've learned to take the rough with the smooth with those because there is usually one author who I know I probably won't like in them. The DSP anthologies are very good value for money as they often have up to 15 stories in them.
As for the last story, well the only time I really noticed an odd story at the the was in the Scared Stiff anthology. There may have been more but I can't remember any (possibly because it's too early in the morning).
The last one was not bad, not at all. But a bit short, I think one the shortest of the whole anthology and the end of the story was rather open. I would like to have seen a story with a more closed end and on a high note.
Tam: Hun, you definitely have reading ADD. 😉
“Some will seem like better warm-ups and some nice finishers.”
That's it exactly and when you are dealing with a collection of stories by different authors you would think that some sort of sense would be made of this aspect, but sometimes I really wonder.
Sean: I know, right. Weirded me right out so I thought I'd share. Extra points to you for noticing first – and you agree with me. See, we are meant to be together.
KZ: *Writing this moment down in the diary.*
I'm with you on “Tangle”, but I think the quality of this was above the norm and that Nikki Kimberling gave some real thought as to how the stories were placed within the volume. Well, that was my impression anyway.
“Candy Cravings”, huh. Sounds… sweet. So, they didn't appear to group the shorts in any way. How odd. Granted it is only one publisher, but it would seem to illustrate my point.
Ingrid: I agree re: DSP anthology. I also thought that maybe having a different story – something especially feel goody – would have given it a rounded albeit sappy end.
Jen: I have a love/hate r/ship with anthologies. There are things about them that I really dis/like and stuff that just strikes me as being odd – and the ending/the last short is definitely one of them.
The DSP anthologies are definitely good value, although I do find that the quality varies a lot from volume to volume. That could just be me though. *shrugs*
I have been disappointed with anthologies but also pleasantly suprised. Example 'Hell Cop 1' was great and I can't wait to read the second one. Also Torquere's 'Shifting 1' was really good but the next one was not that good and it was the same authors, so go figure…
Honestly, can't tell you the last time I read every single story in an antho. Usually I get them to read one particular author that I like.
I have way too many books to read to sit through several shorts that I'm not interested in reading in the first place.
Suzi: I think your 'go figure' sums it up nicely.
The reason why the Hell Cops work so well is, I reckon any way, due to the authors' experience working – and well – together, it is set in the same world and the stories are meant to flow on to the other, and Nikki Kimberling's backrgound as an editor of both stories and anthologies. Other themed works can be a bit hit or miss.
Emmy: I pride myself on my willpower when it comes to not buying anthologies that I'm only interested in reading a couple of the stories. As you say, who has the time to read shorts you're not interested in. Not to mention the money I save I can spend on another book. 😉
I'll usually only buy anthologies if there's a story/author I really want to read. It's always a hit or miss, sometimes you get some really good little stories and then sometimes not so good.
I've bought quite a few and so far I'd say I'm more satisfied instead of dissatisfied. Maybe I've had good luck?
Okay what Book Goddesses are you praying to Lily?? I want me some of that good luck.
I must confess – I'm with Lily 🙂 When I pick up an anthology, I'm usually only picking it up to read a particular story
I just can;t bring myself to do that. As I said to Emmy, too many other good books that are worth paying the money for.
Sorry, I don't have a specific Book Goddess I pray to. I pray to all of them 🙂
And while I usually buy the anthologies because of one or two authors or stories I do read them all, the good and the bad.
Lily: Although we don't on the same basis, we read anthologies the same way – even if it may kill us. LOL.