Economics of an Anthology Pt.1

Anthology EconomicsRecently we received some messages about anthology compensation and it got us to thinking that maybe writers, and the general public, may not be aware of what is involved in the economics of building an anthology from the publishers point of view. We will break this down into three sections: the labor involved, the hard costs & revenue involved, and finally author compensation.

Labor involved in an Anthology

For the purposes of this hypothetical exercise, we will assume that 17 stories are going in the anthology, at a minimum of 4,000 words and a maximum of 9,000 words.

Action Details Hours
Management Decisions Deciding the genre, theme, guidelines, opening & closing dates, acceptance date, publishing date 2
Drafting a Call for Submission 1
Submitting Call to Social Media, Fb, Tw, Email, Blogs 2
Sending Acknowledgment Emails that submission was received, confirming format, length, guideline requirements, entering into a database 6
Inter-Office Communication project specific emails, calls 8
Reading/Slushing Submitted Short Stories – multiple editors 23
Discussing/Deciding Acceptance Editorial team 5
Emailing acceptances/declines 2
Designing a cover Actually 3-4 to chose one 7
Proofread stories for typos, major issues 17
Email Authors with issues to address 6
Selecting order of contents for best reader engagement 2
Formatting short stories into publishing format 6
Purchasing ISBNs for both print and electronic formats 1
Requesting ARC Reviews & sending advance copies to reviewers for pre-launch push 1
Paying Authors token amounts to make them “professional” 3
Ordering physical book proof Reviewing an actual book before final publishing 3
Writing blog articles (at least 2-15) to market anthology 10
Social Media Posts (at least 20-30) to market anthology 15
Develop Book Video Trailer to generate curiosity 4
Emailing Authors Tips to market anthology 2
Developing e-book formats E-pub, .mobi, .PDF, etc. for electronic sales 4

For the sake of easy math, let’s say we are hypothetically paying our editors and staff about $10 per hour (hey! if you want to make money, let me introduce you to the rewarding field of fast food preparation! In reality, nobody gets paid this amount, but we’re just proving a point.) Figure 50% on top of the that for payroll taxes, Social Security, benefits, labor-related project expenses, etc. So approximately 130 hours x $15 per hour is $1950. Let’s call it an even $2,000 since there are always more problems, issues, multiple emails, missing data, editing issues, etc.

You will note that this does NOT include:

  • Heavy copy editing (i.e. page & sentence structure, pacing, fact checking, organization, transitions, redundancy, awkward construction, excessive use of passive voice, wordiness, logic, tone, and more)
  • Developmental editing (it’s up to authors to provide a good story)
  • 100% of the marketing needed to make an anthology successful (even at large publishing houses, authors must now assist with social media marketing, signings, emails, etc.

So now we have estimated that there is about 130 hours of labor (minimum) put into developing an anthology, or a minimum of about $2,000 in labor costs. This is all before teh first book is even sold.

Next: The Economic of an Anthology, The Hard Costs…