Monday, January 16, 2023

Sausage Making or the Creation of an Anthology

Sausage Making or the Creation of an Anthology by Debra H. Goldstein

When Anna Castle unexpectedly passed away, it was a loss for the writing community. It was a sorrowful time to say good-bye to a woman who had been an excellent writer and a strong presence in the Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime. As a member of the steering committee, she ushered the fifth and sixth Guppy anthologies into existence. Without Anna and her institutional knowledge, the Guppies faced a dilemma in whether to put together their bi-annual anthology.


Not having an anthology was quickly discounted. The purpose of the Guppy anthology is to offer its members, many of whom have never been published, a safe and educational opportunity to participate in the entire process of the creation of a compilation of short stories. This means that besides simply submitting and hoping for a story to be published, Guppy members are introduced to many of the steps that go into the final work --- but not all of them.


I hadn’t been either until I was tapped to keep this project alive. Having been President of the Guppies during the past two anthologies, I observed a lot of what Anna did, despite only negotiating the contracts with our past publisher. Because the Guppy steering committee already had agreed to proceed, picked the title and theme: Hook, Line, and Sinker: tales of grifters, con artists, and their marks, and petitioned and received permission to go forward from national Sisters in Crime, I thought I was off and running.


Wrong. I soon realized that although I understood that a calendar was needed to ask for submissions, judge them, notify those who would be in the anthology (and those who wouldn’t), edit them, and publish them, there were many details for which my skill set was lacking. Hence, I asked a pro, Carol L. Wright, an author in her own right and a person very much behind the scenes of the successful Bethlehem Writers Roundtable anthologies to partner with me in putting the Guppy anthology together. (btw, this year’s BWR contest for its Season’s Readings anthology is accepting submissions with the winners to be chosen by guest judge Barb Goffman)


Carol graciously said yes. Here’s how the sausage got made:

1)     I did the first draft of the submission rules, we modified them, posted them in the Guppy files and on the list serv.

2)     A limited submission period was open to Guppies who had been members by a date certain. Submissions were sent to Carol who coded them in and made sure they met the submission standards.

3)     Together, we lined up 15 non-Guppy judges to blindly judge the submissions for quality and meeting the theme. Thanks to Carol, we engaged Emily P.W. Murphy as our non-Guppy editor, and I arranged for publication by Wolf’s Echo Press. Because we would be familiar with the judges, the submitted stories, and the submitters, Carol and I prohibited ourselves from submitting stories for consideration.

4)     Stories were submitted.

5)     Stories were sent to the judges who, based upon a standard rubric, read and ranked the stories.

6)     Although we were thrilled with the overwhelming response, only the top twenty-three stories could be included in the anthology. Notices of acceptance and rejection were sent.

7)     Contracts for authors were prepared, sent, and returned. Authors also submitted headshots and bios.

8)     The twenty-three stories were sent to the editor for formal editing. This process could consist of anywhere from one to three detailed exchanges between the editor and the author.

9)     Carol and I drafted the Warnings section required by national for any anthology and asked Guppy President, Susan Van Kirk, to write the book’s introduction. We engaged Emily P.W. Murphy to also do the cover art.

10) The editor determined the proper order of the stories. All were forwarded to the publisher.

11) We reviewed possible cover art. Carol, Susan, the publisher, and I all provided our thoughts. A final cover was created. (note: there was a lot of work done behind the scenes by the cover artist and publisher to finalize the cover art and to make it fit the specifications for trade paperback and e-book).

12) The publisher made additional comments and suggestions which were shared with the authors. Modifications as agreed upon were made by the authors.

13) The publisher prepared a proof copy of the text which Carol and I reviewed. We responded with any errors we found.

14) The publisher prepared a modified proof, which we shared with the authors, asking them to read their story and the one below it looking for errors. Carol and I also read the book again.

15) A final proof was prepared. Carol and I read the book again (she’s a fantastic proofreader – I’m not).

16) A list serv for the authors to communicate and make promotional plans was created.

17) Advance information was shared with Dru Love for the cover reveal that she graciously had on Dru’s Musings for Hook, Line, and Sinker: the Seventh Guppy Anthology on January 8, 2023.

18) The trade paperback and e-book are now available for pre-order via worldwide distribution channels, including the ability to purchase it on Amazon and Wolf’s Echo Press’ websites.

19) The anthology will be physically released on January 27, 2023.

I may have missed some steps, but I’m thrilled to report, on behalf of the Guppies (and Carol and me) that the sausage is made.


  1. I’m getting tired just reading this, and all I did was write a foreword. What a wonderful job you, Emily, and Carol did.

  2. Having coordinated several previous Guppy Chapter anthologies, I just want to add that in addition to the various tasks Debra mentioned, she also needed a large reserve of patience.

    Dealing with that many people (judges, authors, editor, publisher) and not slaying any of them is a minor miracle.

  3. I am only marginally aware of the details that go into producing such an anthology, but I know it's a tremendous undertaking! Thank you and the others for being willing to help others out like this.

  4. This was brilliant, Kait! I am so proud to be in the same anthology with you and so grateful to the others who did all the hard work.

  5. What a great and exhausting job! My hat is off to you, Debra.

  6. For Carol and me, it was a work of love (and pulling our hair out at times). Thanks everyone for your appreciation....