Do you have an idea for an anthology you'd like to propose, edit, and get published? An anthology can be a wonderful collection of voices around a theme. They are a lot of work to put together, but when done right, can help the editor get established in publishing, and lead to other writing and editing opportunities.
As the co-editor of one absolute all-out flop, and the sole editor of two successful anthologies (one of them a New York Times Bestseller), I can speak to which kinds of ideas tend to work, and which might not. I'll also cover the ins and outs of execution: from finding and wrangling a diverse mix of writers at all levels; to making sure you have a good mix of stories so the book isn't repetitive; to writing your proposal; to deciding whether to pitch the book through an agent or on your own; to considering which publishing houses you're interested in; and to being the managing editor of this one-time publication.
This course will not only help participants shape and develop anthology ideas of their own; it will also provide insight into editing, curation, and publishing that can be applied to other projects and jobs.
Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the Zoom desktop client so you have access to all platform features.
- How to hone your anthology idea
- How to attract contributors
- How to approach publishers and create interest in your anthology
- How to create a diverse, inclusive, well-rounded, exciting anthology that builds interest and isn’t repetitive
- Advice on the pitching process
- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
The class will be comprised of a mix of lectures and discussion. I’ll share reading materials, including: one of my own anthology book proposals that sold, plus the tables of contents, introductions and other materials from of a few successful anthologies. I’ll also recommend some anthologies to buy or borrow from the library as good examples to analyze.
There will be a few small writing assignments, which will be partially shared and discussed in class, and on which I will give light feedback: a succinct one- or two-paragraph synopsis of an anthology; a more developed overview for a proposed anthology; spreadsheets of possible contributors and the subjects they might write on.
Week 1: How does your anthology idea hold up? How can you make it super focused and unique? We'll discuss anthologies that have been successful, and also each person's specific ideas. Homework: Write the overview of your anthology for your proposal.
Week 2: An anthology should come at a theme from many diverse angles. What are the many aspects of your anthology theme that you'd want writers to cover? How many voices will it take to cover all the aspects? Homework: Brainstorm a list of all the possible angles to be covered.
Week 3: Who will contribute to your anthology? Who will cover which angles? How will you entice a few bigger names to contribute? Homework: Make a spreadsheet with your wish list of names along with subjects you think each person might touch on.
Week 4: How will you get your book published? Will you look for an agent to sell it for you? Some publishers of anthologies don't require submissions by agents. Some do. We'll discuss different publishers, and also the financial realities of publishing anthologies, in particular, sharing a small advance with a number of writers.
Sari Botton is a writer and editor living in Kingston, New York. She is the former Essays Editor for Longreads, and edited the award-winning anthology "Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving NY" and its New York Times-Bestselling follow-up, "Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakable Love for NY." She teaches at Catapult and in the MFA program at Bay Path University. In the past she has taught in the journalism department at SUNY at Albany and the adult education program at SUNY Ulster.
Photo credit to Sylvie Rosokoff
"Sari Botton has a knack for knowing what I'm trying to say, and helping me to say it far more eloquently than I could have otherwise."
"Sari Botton is a force. For years she's written the killer Rumpus interview column, “Conversations With Writers Braver Than Me,” though it's a tall order, because she is one of the bravest writers I know. She’s tackled topics like abortion, sexism in Jewish divorce, childlessness, hysterectomy, and misogyny in medicine with grace, honesty, and tremendous heart for the likes of Glamour, The New York Times, and Harper’s Bazaar. I'll read anything she ever writes."
"I’ve loved Sari Botton’s writing for as long as I can remember. She has a way of taking difficult, even brutal, subjects and conferring upon them an unlikely serenity. There is an intrinsic grace to her work that always leaves me feeling comforted even if she’s taken me down a rocky path. She knows what she’s doing; that’s for sure."
"Sari Botton works magic on words. On a few occasions, she's taken my messy rambling, and with her keen editing, turned them into essays I still get compliments on. The gift of a good editor is underrated, and Sari's efficiency and sharp intelligence are invaluable."
"Sari Botton is an editor who cradles your heart with one hand and helps you sort through your thoughts and ideas with the other. She is a writer's dream editor because she treats you and your words with respect throughout the entire process, approaches revisions as a collaborative effort and makes you feel confident that you're publishing the best piece possible."
"I invited Sari Botton to teach one morning at a weeklong workshop I was conducting because I’d had Sari as a teacher a few years before and knew how well she is able to coax the stories her students need to tell, how gently she moves them toward the telling details, the meaning, their truth. At the workshop I had her visit, she presented an exercise to help people decide on a topic that’s contemporary, important to the culture at large and to them in particular. It was a brilliant exercise that not only helped attendees come up with a topic but how to proceed in crafting a long-form essay from an idea or an opinion they are passionate about. Brilliant. Which is the word, if I only had one to choose, I’d use to describe Sari’s teaching."