Posted in Writing

Why Anthologies Are Like Buses

A quick shout-out for two fun anthology projects in which some of my stories are featured – and National Flash Fiction Day (today!)


Photo of rag rug
Story anthologies, like rag rugs, are much greater than the sum of the parts. (I made this rag rug too!)

I’m a big fan of short story anthologies, which serve as a sampler of the work of different writers, usually offering one story from each of a number of authors.

An anthology is a different animal to a collection, which features the work of a single author, e.g. my short story collections Marry in Haste, Quick Change and Stocking Fillers.

New cover of Marry in Haste

Cover of Quick Change

Cover of Stocking Fillers







Think of an anthology more as a tasting menu – a small sample of lots of different authors, so you can try all kinds before deciding which you like best. Yum. Or as the test-drive of a range of car models from your local showroom to help you decide which model is right for you. For this reason, contributing stories to anthologies is a great marketing strategy for authors, because it attracts new readers who prefer to try before they buy a whole book by a single author.

On the other hand, collections provide a more consistent reading experience because no matter how varied the stories, there is a single author voice. To quote Elegsabiff, one of the Amazon reviewers of my Quick Change collection,

“The advantage of one author is that you do know the quality you meet in the preview will hold true for the whole collection.”

I’d go a step further than Elegsabiff and say that personally I prefer collections unified by a single theme. To my mind provides a more coherent and satisfying reader experience. If disparate stories are put together in a single-author collection, the reader can feel wrong-footed from story to story. That’s why I group my stories into themed collections, with each theme made clear from the titles and subtitles.

Anthologies can provide more consistency if they stick to a single theme or structure, e.g. all the stories in the National Flash Fiction Day anthologies are restricted to 500 words, and all the stories in Change the Ending (more of which in a moment) were to do with public services. However, providing varied voices and styles remains the distinguishing feature of the anthology.

Anthologies Featuring My Stories

In 2014, I was pleased to have had stories featured in two anthologies:

  • the 2014 National Flash Fiction Day anthology Eating My Words, the brainchild of NFFD founder and director Calum Kerr
  • Change the Ending, an interesting project celebrating public services through flash fiction stories by a mixture of seasoned writers and public servants with now authorial experience, curated by the inspirational Dawn Reeves

Cover of Eating My Words

change the ending







In 2015, one of my stories was also included in the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival 2015 anthology, H is for Hawkesbury, which featured samples of work from all of the festival’s featured authors and poets. The 2016 edition is now in production.

Cover of H is for Hawkesbury
Companion piece for 2016 festival to follow shortly…

This month (June 2016) I’ve added two new anthologies to my portfolio (like buses, you wait for ages then two come along at once):

  • The Box of Stars Beneath the Bed, the 2016 National Flash Fiction Day anthology for which I was honoured to be asked by Calum Kerr to write a story (the result is On the Invisibility of the Deaf on page 111)
  • Out of the Shadows, a set of stories by indie author friends, under the strapline “Strong Writing by Strong Women”, curated by Mohanalaskshmi Rajamukar, which reproduces my flash fiction story Out of the Mouths of Babes, as featured in Quick Change

box of stars Out of the Shadows cover








Celebrating Flash Fiction Anthologies

There couldn’t be a better time to sample the work of new authors in this way, because today just happens to be the fifth National Flash Fiction Day, which includes the official launch of the 2016 anthology featured above, A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed. (More information about that on the event website here.)

On the subject of flash fiction (which, by the way, is just another term for very short stories), if you sign up to my book launch emailing list (only used when I’ve got a new book to shout about), you’ll be able to download a free ebook of my own flash fiction collection, Quick Change. Just click here to register your address so I know where to send it.

In the meantime, happy Flash Fiction Day, and happy reading, whatever you choose to read!

All of the books above available as ebooks at very low prices, and all but Out of the Shadows are also out in paperback too, from all good retailers, online and on the high street.

I love patchwork too, for similar reasons – a bit of the quilt from my bed here, also made by me. #busybee



English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

6 thoughts on “Why Anthologies Are Like Buses

  1. Reblogged this on disappearinginplainsight and commented:
    I’m very excited – while I’m off filling my days with holiday fun – to have this opportunity to share Debbie Young’s post with you. One of my short stories is also part of the Out of the Shadows collection. Enjoy.

    1. Francis, I’m very excited too that our stories are featured together in this collection – I knew your work would be a great fit for this theme.

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