HOW I CAME TO WRITE
SHOT TO DEATH
Stephen D. Rogers
As the newsletter editor for the New England chapter of Mystery Writers of America, I received an email from a publisher asking me to pass along a call for submissions. A small independent publisher, Mainly Murder Press sought mystery novels with a New England setting.
After adding the call to the next newsletter, I emailed the publisher to inquire whether MMP would be interested in a collection of mystery short stories with New England settings. They asked for a proposal. And then the entire book. And then that two copies of the attached contract be signed and returned.
Throughout this entire process, I had to decide what stories to propose for inclusion. (I then surprised myself by making two swap requests after the collection was accepted.)
I've contributed to over seventy-five anthologies, most themed within a certain genre. With anthologies, no matter how rigid the requirements, the contents are usually differentiated by the individual voices of the various contributors.
With single-author collections, I've noticed two editorial decisions. In some collections, the editor chooses stories of all one type, and thus risks monotony. In other collections, the editor chooses different types of stories, and thus risks a marketing challenge.
I went for breadth within the mystery genre, wanting everybody who happened across the book to find at least one story to their liking, and this decision has in fact made marketing a particular challenge. On the other hand, I've enjoyed seeing which stories different reviewers highlighted due to their predilections for traditional, literary, or noir.
Would I make the same decision next time I pitch a collection? Probably. While I'll probably sell fewer copies, I value a richer reading experience over riches.