Yesterday was the launch of the first Hit World anthology, You Pay; We Slay. It contains the first story I’ve written for nearly twenty years that isn’t overtly science fiction or fantasy.
By weird coincidence, I received paperback editions of You Pay; We Slay and my previous two anthologies across three consecutive days. Something struck me: my name was on the cover of all three.
Blagging your name on the cover of an anthology or magazine is something to be proud of. It (usually) means the publisher thinks your name shifts copies.
I was pretty chuffed about this, because I see writing short fiction primarily as fun. It stretches my writing muscles and I do use it to explore new ideas and new ways of telling them, but it’s with novels that I earn the money to put a roof over our heads.
Writing novels is my job. Short fiction, not so much.
I did a stock count and can come up with seventeen anthologies I can remember that contained my stories, with three more due in 2022. Seven of those featured my name on the cover.
I rate sixteen of those anthologies as being strong. There’s only one where I felt several of the other stories were weak, but even there I’ll happily accept that the authors are highly regarded, but not to my taste. Plus it had my favourite cover of all my anthologies, so it sits proudly on my bookshelf.
Maybe I’m more of a successful short story writer than I thought.
I totted up a rough average of how much I’d earned from those seventeen anthologies and came up with 13c per word. That’s definitely a professional pay rate.
But, hold on! That 13c is the mean. With around half of those anthologies being a profit share, the financial return various enormously. For the median pay rate, I arrive at a semi-pro level of 2c per word.
I’m more comfortable with the 2c figure than 13c because that way the short fiction doesn’t feel like a job. I’m enormously fortunate that I write novels for a living, and I’m very comfortable with that.
Let anthologies remain a fun, artistic side hustle.
(But don’t stop paying me, publishers 😉 )