In editing The Fob Bible, I ignored any agony at including my own work. The constraints of the anthology demanded it. With Monsters and Mormons, I was planning on stepping aside and not filling any pages with my own writing. After all, I have generally found it rather obnoxious when editors include their own work. The first time I remember thinking this was reading a humor collection edited by Louis Untermeyer (Amazon). The book, he claimed, contained only the best work from the English-speaking world’s funniest writers. And then he included himself. So I judged him by his own standard (only twice as hard) and that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing since. And I’ve read enough anthologies now to know that 75% of the time, the editor’s stories show—not surprisingly—the least editing.
(Note: I’m not including Angela’s story in that 75% because it was good and also because it had been clearly vetted by several awards and publication processes. She didn’t just invent it for her collection under the assumption she was awesome.)
On authors putting their own stories in an anthology.
Angela, I feel like giving you a whack upside the head for even worrying about this.
It’s a very common practice, almost expected. (Not counting DISPENSATION, four of the five writer-edited anthologies I’ve been in have had stories by the writer/editor in them.)
As a reader, I always prefer anthologies with stories by the writer/editor. It gives me a benchmark for judging their selection criteria. It also indicates to me that if the author has a story in the book (particularly a new one crafted just for the anthology), the project was important to the author/editor personally (at least enough to spend time and effort writing for it) and the editor isn’t just phoning it in.
DISPENSATION is a much better book in several ways for having your story inside its pages.
I’ve been mulling this over for almost a week now and I would like to do an informal poll:
Where ONE is insufferably pretentious and TEN is evidence of attempted excellence, how do you feel about author/editors including their own work in anthologies they put together?
Defend your number in the comments.
(And please note this poll is not binding upon Mr Morris.)