Short Story Collection FAQ

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Author’s Note: Another FAQ resulting from a discussion between my critique partners and I on my now-defunct online forum.

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One of my Seven Deadly Pens partners was curious about some of the specifics of publishing a collection of short stories. Since I’ve already had two published, I had a fair amount of information to share. Here it is for your own edification, should you be curious as well.

Did you approach a publisher with a completed manuscript & table of contents?

Yes.

Did they reject any of the stories or how you had them put together?

A couple of stories got rejected for Despairs & Delights because they were a little too extreme for the editor. Those made it into Magick & Misery, though, which was released through a different publisher.

Did you self publish?

Hells no. See here and here.

What about rights? I would assume many of the stories in a collection were previously published, so did you have any issues with what could go into the collection? Are there rights covering this sort of thing? (I assume there are…) Would anthology rights apply here? What rights would apply to a collected work?

It is assumed that a collection will include a lot of reprints, so that shouldn’t be an issue. What you do need to make sure of is that you’re not violating any agreements with other publishers/editors. If you signed a contract giving print rights to a specific story to Dark Recesses for a year, for example, you need to either wait that whole year before publishing it elsewhere or else ask DR for permission to use it sooner. Anthology rights are rights a magazine purchases in order to include work they’ve published in the magazine in a ‘Best Of’ anthology at a later date. The rights that apply to the collection? It’s your work, and you have the right to publish it, unless you’ve signed a contract giving those rights away either temporarily or permanently.

I have enough stuff right now that would come together to make a 60,000-word collection. Would that be long enough?

Absolutely. Neither of mine are that long.

Did you buy a number of your own copies at a discount to resell?

Yes. As a matter of fact, I can sell signed copies direct from my website for cover price or below and still make a buck or two per copy.

You do that through your website and keep the money, or do you have a deal with your publisher to split any of that revenue?

If I buy them, I don’t get royalties on those copies, of course, but I keep any revenue from their sales, which, depending on the circumstances, can amount to more per copy than I’d see if someone bought the book through Amazon, for example.

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