Compilation Books and How They Work

Posted on September 5, 2014


mountain-booksUpon first hearing of compilation books, I thought they were identical to anthologies. Although both names can technically apply, anthologies are very 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 also came to mind, but these also more closely resemble anthologies since the CD is made because the songs are popular, not because the album producer has asked for certain songs to be written for the album. Compilation books are more active in that they include writing by different authors on the same topic and do, indeed, involve a publisher’s call for submissions. Instead of requiring publishers to look for the content, as in many anthologies, the content of 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 been extremely successful over the past decade. Writers submit stories based on hardships they’ve encountered, or whatever the topic of the book presents. The book usually presents a question or is centered on a “how to” topic. Either way, the authors provide answers in the form of stories.

The stories submitted are usually given to a group of editors to read. The editors then choose the works that best fit in the compilation and edit them. Since writers use different writing styles and standards, it can be difficult to get the works formatted the same way, but the stories should look uniform so the book flows smoothly. Though formatted to create one cohesive piece, a compilation book still allows for each author’s personality to be displayed through his or her writing.

Submitting to a compilation book is relatively easier than going to a publisher with your own book. This makes compilation books a fruitful opportunity for new writers. The publisher needs your story for the book just as much as you need the company to publish it—provided that your story is well-written, of course. Since the publisher asks for a specific type of story, you know there will at least be interest in your work.

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. Often, in addition to the royalties made on book sales, writers receive discounted copies of their books.

As a contributing writer, you can both promote yourself and let the publisher and other authors promote you. Since you are but one name in many, some people might buy the book to read one author’s story, and in doing so, discover yours as well. Authors can directly assist each other, and this can be especially useful if you want a specific writer to promote you to his or her audience. He or she 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 necessary. For instance, the publisher can use excerpts on websites for marketing, or the writer can publish or resell the story elsewhere. This way, the writer still has ownership over his or her work, but the publisher(s) can use it in ways that benefit everyone.

Finally, compilation books are a great way for writers to enter the publishing world without committing to a specific genre for future works. They provide writers with an interesting platform that will launch writing careers in the best way possible.

 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
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