Spring Conference Blog: Anthologies

Posted on April 5, 2019 in News & Reviews, Scotland

Chaired by Mika Cook, Co-Chair of SYP Scotland and Publishing Assistant at 404 Ink.

Panellists:

Eris Young, Writer in Residence, Lighthouse Books and Managing Editor, Aether/Ichor

Lauren Ace, Brand Director, Little Tiger Group

Lauren Nickodemus, Co-Founder, Monstrous Regiment

Sha Nazir, Publisher and Art Director, BHP Comics

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The eclectic nature of anthologies was reflected in the panellists addressing this topic. However, despite their diverse portfolios, a common thread within their work is the representation and support of marginalised voices. From LGBTQ+ to the working class, anthologies give voice to – in Lauren Ace’s words – ‘ready-made communities’ of people. Anthologies are perfectly suited to this because they rely on the promotion of a concept, rather than the name of an existing author. They are the perfect place for new publishers and new writers to find their footing and explore issues that deserve representation. Eris Young spoke emphatically on the idea that ‘anthologies redefine the boundaries, or break the boundaries’ surrounding groups and ideas. They provide a comprehensive account of the variety of voices necessary to tackle topics relating to identity and marginalisation.

Across the panel, the focus was on the publisher creating a platform through which writers can express themselves individually and diversely. Monstrous Regiment presented an idea for The Bible, and received narratives on bisexuality in many forms; from coming out, to representation in the media, to the importance of community in fandoms. Ace said that the mission of Little Tiger Press is to ‘open up the floor’; they want a variety of voices to shape their anthologies, be it through varied topics, or individual accounts of the same experience. As a writer, Young enjoys both ends of the collaboration spectrum; the freedom to write what interests them, and the challenge of creating content within a more specific brief. For the most part, anthology publishers are at the mercy (and quite happily so) of those who resonate with the theme they present.

When you hear the word ‘anthology’ in an industry setting, the word ‘Kickstarter’ tends to follow, and for good reason. For Lauren Nickodemus and her co-founder Ellen Desmond, Kickstarter was “instrumental” in raising funds for The Bible, and in garnering an audience before its publication. Mika Cook noted that Kickstarter is how 404 Ink invest in authors and their voices, which is vital for a growing publisher supporting emerging writers. For Sha Nazir, it is a way to find, teach and mentor BHP’s younger contributors. Ace spoke particularly personally on the need for crowdfunding, pointing out that in projects such as Know Your Place (Dead Ink Books), focusing on working class backgrounds, the publishers frequently need funding too. Young pointed out that failed crowdfunding projects are an unfortunate reality, and they require an excellent plan and team to undertake, but if done right they can allow a publisher to champion a community that might not otherwise have been exposed.

From this panel, we can take a very positive outlook on the future of the anthology. Their speed of production allows issues to be identified and produced while they are still relevant. The agility of smaller publishers makes them perfectly suited to the production of anthologies because they are able to take on these important and pressing projects in a way which larger publishers with longer schedules simply can’t. Anthologies also present content in more ‘bitesize’ chunks, which Ace pointed out is more amenable to a modern audience. In the future, Young wants to see more genres emerging in anthologies; more ‘changing it up’. Ace echoes this, stating with certainty that ‘audiences are ready’.

Blog by Kirsten Knight, Student Liaison Officer, SYP Scotland