Monday, March 21, 2011





Stephen D. Rogers

There are two parts to this tale, one more interesting than the other. I'll let you decide which is which.

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.


Charles Gramlich said...

For the single author anthos I did I went for variety. It's how I typicaly write after all.

Anonymous said...

Patti - Thanks for hosting Stephen.

Stephen - Thanks for sharing your story. I completely agree with you that it's better to go for rich reading experiences than for, well, riches. I like your priorities!!

Chris Rhatigan said...

Interesting post. It's an excellent collection--I think Rogers writes the literary, noir, and traditional mysteries with equal ability.

David Cranmer said...

I have always enjoyed Stephen's work. I first read a poem of his in EQMM (I believe) almost twenty years ago. SHOT TO DEATH is tops along with his story in BEAT to a PULP:Round One.

I guess what I'm saying is I'm a fan. :)

Kevin R. Tipple said...

I have read and reviewed this collection. Good stuff.