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Hi Richard,

I have two ideas for potential anthologies that I would like to pursue, but to be honest, I am completely new to the process, and may well be stepping into a bureaucratic nightmare.

Without giving it away, the idea is essentially this: Compile fiction (and possibly essays) written by people in certain professions. The two ideas each revolve around a specific profession, and while projects are similar, they have no relation to each other. Ideally, these would be reasonably large anthologies, with many participants. However, I would be just as happy compiling them online, and seeing where that goes.

The catch is that the people I would reaching out to are people who work in show business, with stage names, and agents, and lord knows what else keeping them safe from the masses. To be frank, I don't have resources or credentials, but I am confident that if my proposal is heard, and my vision for the project is understood, then I will gain the support of at least a few performers. How can I best reach out with my proposals in a professional way to those communities and/or individuals?

I am hoping that having even one or two noteworthy names on my side, I can snowball it into a large scale project. Seeing as you have dealt with the process of publishing anthologies quite extensively, perhaps you can get me started in the right direction. My goal in these projects is not focused on making money so much as exploring interesting sociological phenomena through the writings of certain related subgroups (who happen to famous). Contacting the performers is the most important factor. The whole project seems to hinge on whether or not I can be heard by the right people.

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give.

Answer
Hi Jemel,

Iíll try to address your concerns below. My apologies for the slight delay in responding, but my plate has been not just full, but overflowing as of late.  That can be good, and bad, but either way it often leads to delays.

That said, my responses are next to the ** symbols below.

Best,
Richard

I have two ideas for potential anthologies that I would like to pursue, but to be honest, I am completely new to the process, and may well be stepping into a bureaucratic nightmare.

**It is not so much that youíd be stepping into a ďbureaucratic nightmare,Ē but that the anthology market has shrunk down to the point that anything other than a high-concept idea attached to well-established names is simply not likely to sell in the current marketplace.


Without giving it away, the idea is essentially this: Compile fiction (and possibly essays) written by people in certain professions. The two ideas each revolve around a specific profession, and while projects are similar, they have no relation to each other. Ideally, these would be reasonably large anthologies, with many participants. However, I would be just as happy compiling them online, and seeing where that goes.

The catch is that the people I would reaching out to are people who work in show business, with stage names, and agents, and lord knows what else keeping them safe from the masses. To be frank, I don't have resources or credentials, but I am confident that if my proposal is heard, and my vision for the project is understood, then I will gain the support of at least a few performers. How can I best reach out with my proposals in a professional way to those communities and/or individuals?

** To be perfectly candid, Jemel, I donít really understand your project.  Thatís a problem.  If I donít understand it, and I pride myself on striving for clarity whenever possible, then youíre unlikely to sell the concept to anyone else. Iíd consider working hard to really spell out what your concept is, before you go forward with more ambitious steps in the process.  Study the structure of elevator pitches in business; if you can use an elevator pitch paradigm to describe your idea, then youíre starting off stronger than most.

As for ďgiving awayĒ the ideas, I can tell you with complete assurance that ideas are a dime-a-dozen.  The execution makes all the difference, and execution in of itself is by far much more rare than ideas.  Even if there WERE someone out there who wants to do the same thing you have in mind, it would still come out entirely different from your own conceptóassuming it was executed at all. Thatís just the nature of these things.  

For example, there have been many retellings of the Tarzan origin story, from film and TV to comics.  But none of them share anything in common except the basic story elements as created by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Everything else, from the story structure to the art, has been different enough to make the property continually appealing to successive generations of creators.

I am hoping that having even one or two noteworthy names on my side, I can snowball it into a large scale project. Seeing as you have dealt with the process of publishing anthologies quite extensively, perhaps you can get me started in the right direction.

** Most of the anthologies Iíve dealt with as either an editor or a contributor are based around an existing media tie-in property such as Zorro or Hellboy.  Most original anthologies are a hard sell these days unless you can guarantee original works from someone like Stephen King or Dean Koontz.  That was relatively common in the 80ís and early 90ís, not so much these days.

My goal in these projects is not focused on making money so much as exploring interesting sociological phenomena through the writings of certain related subgroups (who happen to famous). Contacting the performers is the most important factor. The whole project seems to hinge on whether or not I can be heard by the right people.

** No, the project hinges on being marketable and having value to the contributors.  You have to look at it this way: if no one is going to make any money off this, and you canít tie it into a proven property, or really make a more-than-strong case of how this would benefit the participants, why would they take part?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give.

** Iím sorry to be the bearer of bad news.  I hope you can find a way to better articulate your concept.  Once you do, if itís viable, then the best way to start is to send a proposal to the representatives of your subjects.

After that, anything can happen.  Sadly, rejection is more often the net result.  Whatever you decide, I wish you the best of luck!

Richard Dean Starr

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Richard Dean Starr

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Experience in the area
Fiction in anthologies from Moonstone Books, Dark Horse Books, as well as stories in CEMETERY DANCE magazine and others. Non-fiction in STARLOG magazine, SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE, the TRIBUNE-GEORGIAN newspaper and more. I have published in excess of 200 articles, columns, and stories.

Organizations belong to
Former member, the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) and the Georgia Press Association.

Publications
I have written and published over 200 stories and articles including: "Unfinished Business" in HELLBOY: ODDER JOBS, edited by Christopher Golden (Darkhorse Books, 2004); "The Shadow That Shapes the Light" in KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER CHRONICLES (Moonstone Books, 2005); "Fear Itself", in the special Stephen King Halloween edition of CEMETERY DANCE magazine, (2005); also forthoming stories in: KOLCHAK: THE NIGHSTALKER CASE FILES (Moonstone Books, 2006); "Lessons Learned" in THE PHANTOM: ANTHOLOGY I (Moonstone Books, 2007), etc. Additional work published in a variety of magazines and newspapers, including STARLOG, SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE, the TRIBUNE-GEORGIAN, and many more

Experience

I can answer most questions about writing and publishing professional fiction and non-fiction in novel, book, and magazine formats.

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