Compilation Books and How They Work

Posted on July 25, 2014


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When I first heard of compilation books, I thought they must be similar to anthologies. But unlike compilations, anthologies are often compiled in retrospect. For example, you might see an anthology of poetry surrounding World War II that has been put together in the present day. The NOW albums initially came to mind when I thought of compilations, except these closely resemble anthologies since the CD is made because the songs are already popular, not because the album producer has asked for certain songs to be written for the album.

Compilation books are more active in that publishers request authors to send submissions written for a specific topic. Instead of requiring publishers to look for content, as in many anthologies, the content in a compilation book comes directly to the publisher.

A famous example of a compilation book is the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, which has seen great success over the past two decades. Writers submit stories on topics such as hardships they’ve dealt with or turning points in their lives. The book usually presents a question or is centered around a “how-to” topic. Either way, the authors provide content focused on the book’s theme.

Stories submitted are usually sent to a group of editors to read, and the editors choose the works that best fit into the compilation. They then edit the stories for the book as any other copy editors would. A standard format is required for compilation books, so editors pay attention to grammar and punctuation to ensure consistency and to showcase the featured topic.

Since becoming published in a compilation book is relatively easier than going to a publisher with your own book, compilation books are a fruitful opportunity for new writers. With a compilation book, the publisher is asking for a specific type of story. If a writer submits a story that meets the compilation’s standards, a publisher is more willing to give that story consideration than it might give an individual manuscript submission.

With this mutually beneficial relationship between the writers and the publisher(s), compilation books also present a great way for the writers to make money. Writers are paid sooner for time spent working on their stories, since the publishing process is faster. Writers also receive discounted copies of their books, which they can resell at a market price and therefore individually profit from their work.

As a contributing writer in a compilation book, you can promote yourself, as well as be promoted by the other contributing authors. Since you are one name among many in the compilation, consumers might buy the book to read one author’s story and inadvertently stumble upon yours. Authors can directly assist each other, especially if you wanted a specific writer to promote you to their audience because you think they would be interested in your work as well. Other writers will most likely be interested in helping out a fellow writer, so don’t hesitate to ask.

Though authors can work together, their publishing contracts are individualized. Each writer is usually provided with non-exclusive rights. This means the writer and publisher(s) can use the story in any way they choose. They can use excerpts for websites and marketing. Often the writer can publish or resell the story elsewhere. In this way, the writer maintains ownership over their work, but the publisher(s) can use it in ways that benefit both the company and the writer. The details all depend on which publishing company you choose.

Compilation books are a great way for writers to enter the publishing world without committing to specific genres for their future works, or having to complete entire books before building a readership. They provide writers with an excellent platform that will launch their writing career in the best way possible. Find a listing for a compilation book and start writing today!


Anine Sus, Writer and Editor, Asta Publications

Asta Publications has a long history of helping writers tell their stories and get published. Since 2004, Asta Publications has helped hundreds of authors bring their book concepts to life and we are ready to help you too! Our dedication to our authors is unmatched. We deliver first-class products and services that are accurate, high quality, and exceed our authors’ expectations.

Posted in: Publishing