News collections as portals to literary magazines and other writings
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I am an avid connoisseur and champion of short stories. Many of my past posts on Book Riot explore my love of collections, although they aren’t as popular in the book publishing industry (i.e. they don’t sell as well. as the novel, blah blah blah).
Well, woe to those who think so much. Short stories have several purposes, arguably more so than novels. Not only do the collections show the extent of an author’s talent with the short form, but they are also gateways to the literary magazines and anthologies that originally published the stories. Additionally, if this story is still archived in the literary magazine that published the story, then you can compare the editorial development of that story from its first appearance to its inclusion in the final published collection.
For readers (and writers at any point in their careers), collections are a lens on the path of news to readership. Many famous writers have seen their stories start their journey in small literary magazines (not all short stories appear in The New Yorker, you know) or highly respected genre publications. So if you’re interested in exploring new corners of the short fiction world, I’ll show you what you need to start.
Quick note on collection examples
The collections below will be mostly Speculative Fiction or SFF (since that’s my interest and expertise), but you can use these browsing techniques to find the original publications in most collections of any genre.
Browse news collections
Not all news collections are created the same, although there are similarities across the board. It is a good etiquette (and sometimes required by contract) for collections to list where the stories first appeared. This list can usually be found in at least one of the following locations:
- On the copyright page
- A acknowledgments / publication history section (usually at the end of the book)
Sometimes the list of previous publications is on a variation of the above, either in an introduction to the collection or on a thank you page at the beginning of the book. There isn’t just one way to do it, but the options above are the most common from what I’ve seen. Below, I’ll list the collections that use the two examples above.
The copyright page
We will start with a release scheduled for 2021.
at Marjorie Liu The Tangleroot Palace is a collection of seven epic and transcendent stories, all of which have been previously published in anthologies. What’s great about this collection too is that Liu wrote an intro, exploring his relationship to these stories and the world at large (i.e. the pandemic) when compiling the collection.
On the copyright page at the bottom, each story is listed in table of contents order.
There’s a lot of information to unpack in this section: the anthology each story appeared in, the publisher, publisher, and year of publication of the anthology are all listed. Readers can find new books to discover in this list. If a reader likes Liu’s story “Briar and Rose” then maybe he will want more stories with this fairytale theme. In this case, they can look to Starwood: new fairy tales, edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe, where “Briar and Rose” first appeared.
If a writer likes one of Liu’s stories say “The Last Deity of Man” and has a work (maybe a short story or a novel) on the same theme or style, then maybe he might rate her first Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination: A Short Original Fiction for the Modern Evil Genius, edited by John Joseph Adams and published by Tor Books. Tor Books is a notable publisher of speculative fiction and SFF, and John Joseph Adams is a renowned editor of SFF magazine Speed of light. Of course, a writer would then consult the appropriate submission guidelines for publisher and magazine – if they are open to submissions – before doing anything in a hurry, but new avenues of research have emerged!
These are two stories from the collection, and in addition to the incredible work of the stories themselves, both open portals to discover other books, publishers, and a well-known magazine.
Backlist Bump: Another collection that uses a list of previous publications on the copyright page is The terrible maidens by Kelly Barnhill.
The Acknowledgments / Publication History page
Sarah Pinsker’s Sooner or later everything falls into the sea is a collection of immense breadth and talent. It brings together some of Pinsker’s best work. The book was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award and won the Philip K. Dick Award. Pinsker’s stories are wonderful explorations of hope amidst desolation and loss.
For this example, the list of original publications can be found at the end of the book, after the Acknowledgments section. In this case, the page is titled “Publication History”.
Of the 13 stories in the collection, 12 have already been published. The first story, “A two-lane wide stretch of highway”, first appeared in The magazine of fantasy and science fiction in 2014. It’s a beautiful tale about a farmer receiving a robotic arm after an accident and how that arm has sensitivity, believing itself to be a stretch of highway in Colorado. Those interested in more work of deep emotion mixed with elements of sci-fi or fantasy should delve into back issues of F&SF. Definitely buy the latest issues too, with Sheree Renée Thomas as the new editor.
Another story further down the list, “In joy, know the abyss behind,” appeared in the magazine. Strange horizons in 2013. Strange horizons is a fantastic publication. He was recently nominated for a Hugo 2021 Prize for the best semiprozin.
Again, these are just two examples of stories that provide a real burrow of possibilities for discovering new magazines and therefore new stories and authors for your TBR.
Backlist Bump: Another collection that uses a “Post History” page to list previous appearances is the magnificent Ted Chiang Collection. Exhalation.
Really, I could write a thousand more words to discuss and explore different ways of using news collections, from the order in which the stories are read, to the rewards and rewards that the stories garner. As in the Pinsker collection, there is also the possibility for writers to publish brand new work in collections. It makes fans see something that has never been released before.
Of course, you can also read a collection for sheer pleasure, just to soak up a short story when you need a moment of escape. The collections are doors to new worlds as well as new reading opportunities. They are just as noble and epic as their Romance counterparts. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.