Compiling a literature anthology is no easy feat, and Denise Baer is here to share the process she went through in compiling the newly released poetry anthology from her imprint Baer Books Press. Over the years (yes, years!), Denise has been a familiar face on this blog. It’s been exciting to watch her grow as an author, publisher, critique partner, client, and friend. I highly recommend her book formatting services.
Working Together to Squash Violence
Countless acts of violence occur each day throughout the day. Every time I read or watch any news networks, the reporters are discussing something tragic in the world. It’s sad and depressing what humanity does to one another.
It makes me mad. It made me want to do something. To make this world just a little bit better, so in April (National Poetry Month) I started accepting submissions for a violence anthology to publish through my imprint, Baer Books Press. All poems were to be about some type of violence, and I decided to accept all submissions. I didn’t want to filter out anyone’s pain or feelings. The original deadline was May 31, but by the beginning of May, I only had a handful of poems, which made me extend the deadline to June 30. Toward the end of May, I received many poems from new and seasoned authors. These poems were from personal experience, thoughts, and/or feelings about violence.
After the deadline, I sent a Word document requesting information from the poets, such as bio (150 words or less), copyright information, whether they have full rights, title suggestions, pictures, and 75 words or less describing why they wrote the poem. I asked that they answer the questions in the same document. One thing I have to say when working with multiple people is you have to be patient. Some people are more experienced with submitting information, and some people don’t work on computers that much. I also was working with people from other countries, so a few might have misunderstood my original requests. In other words, it took me a while to collect the correct information from everyone. Either the bio was too long or it was incomplete.
As I was receiving the information, I noticed that a couple of poets submitted poems without fully understanding what the anthology was about, what they would get in return, and that the proceeds would go to a charity. Between resubmitting requests, I fielded emails regarding questions about payments, and one confused person forgetting she ever submitted a poem. She actually asked who I was and what she submitted.
I had another poet get upset because I wanted some clarification regarding what he sent me. He accused me of not reading his submission information, not understanding copyright, and wanted to withdraw his poem. To relieve myself the burden of any future arguments, I immediately accepted the removal of his poem. A few other poets weren’t making it easy for me in the collection process, so I had to let them know that I could no longer use their poem in the anthology. In the end, I wound up with 35 poets, including me, and 63 poems.
This was my first anthology, and the poems really moved me. They’re about dimensions of violence; domestic violence, bullying, murder, and suicide and mental illness. Since this anthology was a collection of many poets’ works, I had them vote on a list of titles I collected from them. As soon as we came up with a winning title, Silver Lining – Poets Against Violence, I went to work on the cover.
I wanted to do something different instead of just putting the poems in the anthology. This was going to be an emotional anthology; therefore, it needed some personalization. Before each poem, the reader will find an explanation by the poet as to why they wrote it. I had all the poems in a separate folder, which I began to format with the explanation at the top, the formatted poem, a picture, and bio. If there isn’t a picture with the poem, a flourish or picture separates the poem from the bio. While formatting the poems, I collected and altered pictures for each poem.
After I formatted all of them, I created the main document to include a linkable table of contents. I also made a separate document with a list of the copyright information consisting of poem, copyright year, and the poet’s name. I had a folder of all the requested information received from the poets, so I could easily retrieve what I needed. Then I created another sheet for all acknowledgements, including the creator of the images. As I began to add the poems to the main document, I linked them to the table of contents, while filling in the copyright and acknowledgment sheets. When I completed the poems, I crosschecked to make sure all poets and poems were on the table of contents, copyright page, and image sheet.
After the book was put together in Word, I created an HTML document and began formatting it for Kindle. There are so many different Kindle devices out there, that it makes formatting a bit more difficult. On some devices, the copyright table was off the page. On the HD’s, the pictures were large, but the Kindle e-inks had small pictures.
To fix the copyright page, I removed the table, placed the list at the end of the document, and linked “Authors” from the copyright page to the list. I also put a “Top” link to bring the reader back to the copyright page. I thought this was best so the reader wouldn’t have to swipe past several pages of copyright information to get to the table of contents. I made sure the pictures were of average size, so they wouldn’t be extremely small. Since the HD readers allow the pictures to be clicked on, I was okay with them being smaller than the e-ink Kindles.
The process in tweaking the documents is tedious. I fix the issues in HTML, and then convert the HTML document to MOBI in Calibre. From there, I add the book to the Kindle Previewer, and go through the book on all the devices to see about changes. This process took me a week of many hours tweaking the pictures, aligning the poems, making sure the fonts were the same, and then doing it all over again to look for anything else that needs fixing.
Once I finally had it the way I wanted it, I e-mailed it to my regular Kindle e-reader to view on there. When I was satisfied, I uploaded it to KDP, and submitted it a day before I had planned publication to allow for review.
Working on this anthology was rewarding. I was able to meet many people, get a glimpse of them through their words, and give toward a charity that is trying to rid the future of violence. I hope this anthology moves readers, and I thank them for their contributions toward a great cause.
Is there anything else you’d like to know about compiling a literature anthology? Can you offer any further tips? Have you been featured in one?
You may also be interested in the author interview I posted on Denise, or the review I wrote of her novel Net Switch, as well as the review I did of her collection of poetry Sipping a Mix of Verse.
The images used in this post are for promotional purposes only and comply with fair use guidelines.
Truly, I had no idea how complicated the process could be, so kudos for all of your hard work! What a topic! Not only are you offering a potentially cathartic experience for all of your poets, the proceeds will go to help victims. What a wonderful idea. Best of success!
Thanks much, Jacqueline. There is a lot to the process, but it’s very rewarding.
It is so heartening to note that persons like Denise are around us…no amount of violence can ever touch us! All we need to do is to highlight it and you have done a wonderful job Denise! CongratulationsI wish you all the success. I could contribute a poem to it.
Thank you Jeri for introducing us to such a humanitarian. Loved reading this post.
Balroop, your words touched me. I appreciate them along with the well wishes.
Yowsers! That sounds like a process, but I bet the idea behind the collection made the effort worth it.
TB, the idea and the wonderful poems I received made the experience worth it. The outpour of participation was great.
Wow – what a lot of work! Good for you on compiling this Denise – an important project to take on. Working with other writers can be very rewarding, but artists tend to be people who don’t always follow the rules, and it looks as if you came across this. I hope the anthology does really well for you.
Kathy, Unfortunately, when dealing with those who don’t always follow the rules, you have to cut your losses and move on. Thanks for reading.
It was interesting to read your process, Denise. And it sounds like an opportunity for you in “setting boundaries” as the submissions came in and you had to work with the people behind them! It’s a reminder of the work that it takes to put something like this together. Kudos to you and wishing you much success.
Laura, I went into it blindly. I guess I didn’t think about the amount of work, but I do hope these poems reach out to someone and helps them.
Oh my! What an experience you had! I might have seriously considered giving up but it’s good that you didn’t because you compiled a wonderful anthology.
Beth, Thank you so much. Behind the scenes, I threw my hands up in the air. Now those glitches don’t seem to matter much.
Sounds like poets might not be the most organized folks. I had no idea how much went into putting together an anthology. This seems like a really interesting and worthwhile project.
Ken, I think any collaboration and collection takes times and patience.
What a fascinating project. I have been a published poet for several years and my poems have been published in literary journals around the world, as well as in an anthology. I think poets against violence is a great idea. Although I am deeply opposed to violence in any form, I write poems about peace, instead of about that which I stand opposed. Thank you for sharing your process.
Michele, I appreciate you stopping by. The poems are about violence, but there’s a little bit of hope in them too, similar to the title.
What a great way to do something for a cause. You can give the poets a place to be published, while bringing awareness to the problem of violence. And we learned something in the process!
Meredith, It did provide a place for new and seasoned poets to voice their frustration. I appreciate you stopping by.
Denise, you are to be congratulated on first, seeing this project through to the end and second, for publishing the final anthology. What a job. But what an important topic. You must have felt like crying many times reading these poems but probably the poets appreciated the opportunity to express their pain.
Lenie, Thank you for your kind words. Not only did I cry, but I learned a great lesson. The lesson was how violence in different countries effect all of us. Poets from other countries wrote about violence that happened in the U.S., and vice versa. It really made me realize just how much we are all connected and hurting from such senseless acts.
Sounds fascinating and I really have to hand it to you for being so patient! The only project I’ve worked on with other writers was when I extended an invitation to submit articles on a particular theme. As with your experience, some people submitted articles off-topic, too long or to short, etc. It took way longer than I expected to select the final articles and in the end I decided that I’d never do it again. Thanks for sharing your story.
Marty, It’s nice to hear about other people’s experience when working with other writers. There are positives and negatives when collaborating with many. The guess the reason why I wanted to do it outweighed the irritations I came across.
What a selfless thing to do! I doubt the idea would have come to my mind to showcase poetry written from the depths of someone’s heart.
There is too much violence in this world. People attacking, raping, murdering others. The victim (if still alive) and family are left to pick up the pieces. One thing I am concerned about is the day I become unaffected by this due to it being an everyday occurrence. Compassion must never die.
Phoenicia, I am right there with you! There is too much violence everywhere. Sometimes, I can’t even believe what we do to one another. I don’t think you or I or many others in this world will become numb to it. When you have hope, love, empathy, it’s hard to crack and destroy them with everyday occurrence. It’s when we no longer have hope or anything left to lose that will make us cross that line. Thanks for stopping by.
Congratulations on the completion of your literature anthology. So many poems and so many authors, it must have taken you a long time to assemble. I worked with an author years ago that wanted to compile surveys from friends and associates and that project was tedious and confusing so I can relate to how much work it must have taken to complete this process. Thanks for sharing your process.
Sabrina, It was a lot of work, but the result was much more gratifying.
Jeri and Denise,
Thanks so much for sharing this interesting post…
I enjoyed learning about how to compile an anthology… Not to mention the loable reason behind it!….
I have read anthologies which tended to amalgam was a genre in particular, a very general topic such as Love and- or certain age or century…
It is the first time I came across an anthology with a more dynamic projection and which aims to raise awareness with regard to Violence! … I appreciate it!… All my best wishes. Aquileana ★? ☀
Aquileana, Thanks so much. Yes, I’m sure the subject matter is somewhat startling to some. Love and relationships are usually what we see in anthology. I felt it was time to expose violence for what it does to us.
Hi Denise. I’ve been a freelance writer since 1993, during which time I’ve engaged in many different types of projects. But we keep learning from each and every project, as you have done with the anthology. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.
Doreen, I’m sure you’re probably up against many more freelancers nowadays than when you started. It’s nice to hear about writers having been involved in other projects. This definitely was a learning experience.
Hi Denise, I’m one of those poets featured in your anthology. I do hope I didn’t give you any headaches, sounds like you had to be a real diplomat, bringing such a diverse group of people together. I love the anthology, it works on so many levels. Fingers crossed that we can reach a large audience and help to raise awareness (as well as cash) of the detrimental effects of violence on everyone who feels it’s icy breath.
Isabella, I did not get a headache working with you. As a matter of fact, it was a delight working with you. Your emails regarding suggestions always put a smile on my face. I just wish all the other poets were as engaged as your were and are. I haven’t heard from many of them since I published the anthology. But I do hope they all get the word out. Thanks again for being a part of it. I appreciate the connection.
Denise, that is exciting that you live in Germany? How do you like it? I am impressed that you stuck with the project till the end even though you had alot of bumps along the road. I love that the poems are about keeping the peace.I like that you got to meet people from all walks of life.
All the best, Crystal Ross
Crystal, It is exciting living in Germany. I think it’s a wonderful experience and has opened my eyes to a lot of things, such as immigrants (legal of course) who struggle to fit in. I’m one of those immigrants who hasn’t quite figured out the German language or how to fit into the German culture, but I’m enjoying life with my husband. Germany is beautiful. We travel around Europe at cheap rates.
Meeting all these people was very cool. I even received a poem from Andrew Graham-Yooll. When I looked him up, I found he’s very well-known in Argentina and has been on the cover of Newsweek!
oh wow! What a fascinating project and a lot of work. Well done Denise, you are awesome.
I enjoyed reading your post and how to compile anthology. Thank you so much for sharing x
And also I love Germany especially Berlin. Planning on visiting before winter.
SafariOnTheBlog, I appreciate you stopping by and commenting. Thanks for the praise. Enjoy yourself in Berlin. We’re on the northwest side of Germany, NRW. Safe travels.
My head is about to explode! Let’s talk PROCESS I thought writing a the literature review for my dissertation was an ordeal. Boy was I wrong. It sounds like and the Expert Level of curated content on steroids. I love reading anthologies now I have a new appreciation for the author’s work. Thank-you
Great idea with a daunting process. Congratulations. I can easily picture in my mind those individuals who were not as trusting as others. It has gotten more and more difficult to separate out the good guys with admirable intentions to those less so. I wish you all the best.
I love the concept of Poets Against Violence. I think this is something we really need at this time. Even if someone hasn’t experienced violence themselves, we are inundated with it in the news. It has become so commonplace that we forget that it can have an effect. I’m glad these poets got to express their stories of violence (even if they all didn’t remember they did it), and I’m sure it will provide comfort to many who read it. By the way, I had no idea how hard it is to format something for kindle. I will try to be more appreciative when I read things on my kindle app!
Would you do it again Denise? what would you do differently? or the same? Curating a project like this is a powerful way to bring people and ideas together, not to mention inspiring others!
That sounds like a heck of a process. I probably would have gave up. I’m glad everything eventually worked out for you though.
Wow, it is difficult enough to put together and publish a book of your own stories or poems (trust me I know how painful it can be). But to work with all these other writers, deadlines, confusion… My hat goes off to you. What a huge undertaking. But for a wonderful cause. I’m sure it will be an interesting read.
A very interesting post. It is something I would love to do one day once I am more experienced. I’ve shared your informative article to my Facebook group: Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club.
Thanks for stopping by, Margorie! Thanks for sharing!