by Kaye George
1. Have a dream first! Ours was a short story anthology, since our group, Austin Mystery Writers, was made up of both published and unpublished writers. Our idea arose out of a bantering session about a trip my husband took on the Mega Bus. It looked like a good place for a murder to me: finite number of suspects, isolated location (the bus makes only one short stop between Knoxville and Washington DC), and a long time period for everyone to get on everyone else’s nerves. The others came up with other ideas that involved vehicles, then we branches out to wheels, and we had our theme. Our dream was to get an anthology of wheel-related stories published.
2. Map out the steps. I’m not saying you’ll always follow the map, but it’s good to have one. We put together a time table. It included story deadlines, critique deadlines, date to hand off to a professional editor, and a publishing timetable with a period of time for submitting, then a schedule for self-publishing if that didn’t happen.
3. Get going. The dream will never happen if you don’t work toward it. OK, maybe it won’t happen even if you do, but it sure won’t if you don’t. You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket, right? Since our group ranged from unpublished to multi-published, we thought we could add some polish with some well-known names. So we invited a couple of Texas authors to join us, Reavis Worttham and Earl Staggs. They both accepted! We were on our way.
4. Try to hit your milestones. We stuck to our schedule for writing, critiquing, and editing. Meanwhile, we had gathered names of likely publishers. When our edits came back from Ramona Defelice Long, we started querying with Wildside Press. I liked them because they had done the Guppy anthologies and we were happy with them.
5. Celebrate when you get there! We were VERY pleased when Wildside accepted our stories. We threw away the rest of the schedule and left everything in their capable hands. What a thrill it was when MURDER ON WHEELS was published in April with a perfect cover for the project. Now we’re endeavoring to promote our volume and make Wildside glad they took us on.
If you’d like to check out the stories, here are some links: