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Anthology Editors: What do they do? [Archive] - DVD Talk Forum
 
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View Full Version : Anthology Editors: What do they do?


bishop2knight
03-14-06, 11:03 AM
I was looking over some of my anthologies last night and noticed that I have a few edited by Orson Scott Card. I began to wonder just what he did as an editor. Normally, I'm assuming an anthology editor selects the pieces to be published, works with the authors as needed, and actually edits the stories. But is the same true for these editors who are well known? Or are the publishers just using their name to sell the books?

djmont
03-14-06, 03:50 PM
Boatdrinks and I recently put together an anthology of several bestselling mystery and suspense writers. We weren't able to sell it to a major publisher and decided we didn't want to go with an independent, but I did learn a little about anthologies in the process.

If it's a collection of pieces by established authors, the actual editing is likely to be minimal. (If you're getting stories from known writers, they can generally be trusted to turn in acceptable work.) So the function of the editor is to initiate the theme, solicit the contributors, sell the book, put all the stories together (probably with only light editing) and then write the introduction.

If the stories are from unknowns, the editor might do more work on them. But that doesn't represent most of what's being published in the field.

Geofferson
03-14-06, 04:43 PM
I've often wondered this as well.

Recently, I picked up a short-story mystery collection called Murder is My Raquet (tennis-themed mysteries) edited by Otto Penzler. Since this is a collection of 14 stories by well-established authors, I'm to assume that Penzler simply chose the theme and packaged the material for sale. He probably did an intro...haven't cracked it open yet.

Anyway, good to know. :up:

djmont
03-14-06, 07:07 PM
Even if you're Otto, it's difficult to get a story from Larry Block or Jeffrey Deaver and start giving them notes on it. Maybe something minor... But the money involved with these things is very small, so the amount of work you can expect the writers to do is commensurately small.

That's one of the reasons Boatdrinks and I abandoned ours -- if we couldn't pay our contributors a halfway decent wage, we didn't feel like we could make them work for us.

FunkDaddy J
03-16-06, 10:38 AM
I edited a small-press anthology called Skull Full of Spurs:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0966262913/dvdtalk/qid=969982614/104-6920868-7926347?n=283155

We had some pretty big names in the genre. Djmont's assumption about editing at this level is correct. For most of the more recognized authors, I did minimal editing, but for some of the lesser-knowns and unknowns, I did significant editing, even substantive.

As Geofferson suggested, with "celebrity" editors such as Card, I wouldn't be surprised if their duties were confined to choosing writers/stories and providing an introduction, leaving the actual editing to actual behind-the-scenes editors.

bishop2knight
03-16-06, 11:42 AM
You know, I think I read that Skull Full of Spurs book. Well done. When's the follow up due?

FunkDaddy J
03-16-06, 11:51 AM
We toyed with a follow-up called Clawed Reins. I still love that title. Alas, the publisher folded.

Geofferson
03-16-06, 12:40 PM
I edited a small-press anthology called Skull Full of Spurs:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0966262913/dvdtalk/dvdtalk/qid=969982614/104-6920868-7926347?n=283155

We had some pretty big names in the genre. Djmont's assumption about editing at this level is correct. For most of the more recognized authors, I did minimal editing, but for some of the lesser-knowns and unknowns, I did significant editing, even substantive.

As Geofferson suggested, with "celebrity" editors such as Card, I wouldn't be surprised if their duties were confined to choosing writers/stories and providing an introduction, leaving the actual editing to actual behind-the-scenes editors.
I'll have to pick that up - sounds like it'd be right up my alley.

As for "Clawed Reins" -- brilliant title. :up:

bishop2knight
03-16-06, 01:47 PM
We toyed with a follow-up called Clawed Reins. I still love that title. Alas, the publisher folded.

Haha. I never knew that. I love the title for reasons I'm sure you can figure out.

Nick Danger
03-18-06, 10:38 AM
What does the editor of an anthology of already extant stories do? Did Isaac Asimov simply choose the stories he liked and tell his agent to secure the republishing rights? That seems like a pretty easy way to add another book on your way to 300 published.

djmont
03-18-06, 04:18 PM
What does the editor of an anthology of already extant stories do? Did Isaac Asimov simply choose the stories he liked and tell his agent to secure the republishing rights? That seems like a pretty easy way to add another book on your way to 300 published.

Yep, that's pretty much it. I was involved in another project that was going to be a collection of previously published stories, and the task of the editor was basically just choosing the stories, presenting them, and writing an introduction. That's how Marty Greenberg has published over 1500 books!