The Mary Roberts Rinehart chapter of Sisters in Crime has always dreamed big. But in the fall of 2011, we went really big.
We decided to publish our own short-story anthology.
After all, digital publishing was “the next big thing.” We were writers. Surely this was a do-able project. All it would take is planning and hard work. We underestimated both of those – and totally forgot about the third element. Luck.
Ironically, our first step was to determine a theme for the anthology. We batted around a couple of ideas before someone said, “How about a St. Patrick’s Day launch with a theme of luck?” It sounded promising, and we came up with three criteria for story submission:
- word count
- the story must contain a crime (after all, we are crime writers)
- the story must have a reference to “luck”
That third one was the big one, and resulted in a ton of questions. Does the luck need to be related to the crime? No. What kind of luck? A charm, a superstition, a belief, paranormal? Yes. Naturally, that answer drove some writers, who wanted very concrete definition of “luck,” crazy.
But the very vagueness of that criterion resulted in some wonderful stories. There is a touch of paranormal. Some writers riffed on different types of “lucky items,” such as cigarette lighters. There is a bit of noir-ish justice luck. Some stories were about the luck experienced by the characters. One explored luck in the form of athlete superstition. And two even named things in the story (a boat and a pub) “Lucky Charm.”
What we didn’t anticipate was the role of luck in creating the anthology. First, we were incredibly lucky to have a dedicated group, determined to bring this project to light. We received a solid group of stories and had a great editor (Ramona DeFelice Long, who has edited several anthologies, including two for the Sisters in Crime Guppies).
Our next bit of luck came in finding a great cover designer, Karen Phillips. With only a very few tweaks, Karen gave us a beautiful cover – and even was able to accommodate us when we decided to do print-on-demand in addition to ebook (and we were very lucky indeed to have such a patient artist, because getting an acceptable POD cover was challenging).
And we were, and are, incredibly lucky to have a wonderful bookseller resource in Mystery Lovers Bookshop and owner Laurie Stephens, who has not only kept our anthology in stock, but threw a phenomenal launch party that resulted in the sale of all 200 POD copies in the initial order (the party really was epic).
The anthology truly was a labor of love – and luck. All of those involved learned a lot, had a lot of fun – and gained a new appreciation for the amount of luck involved in publishing.
With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, why not share in our tales of luck – or luck gone bad? Visit our website for more information.
If this story has inspired you to get a group together for anthology, know that it is possible with a lot of hard work, a good attitude, time, professionalism – and a healthy dose of luck!