Done correctly, multi-author projects can be powerful for all involved, including readers. The proof is in the best seller lists and in the lives of those positively affected. Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Secret, or the A Cup of Comfort series (published by Simon and Schuster) as far as nonfiction examples, in addition to the many other sorts of anthologies out there. I’ve really enjoyed my share of them, especially those with short stories and probably foremost, Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy: 20 Dynamic Essays by the Field’s Top Professionals. There’s an essay in there by Robert Heinlein I still quote from time to time. My book, 365 Rock Star Quotes is an anthology, and what I’m most proud of is it followed my step-dad around through his (successful) battle with cancer and sits on his coffee table today.
There are things to watch for when considering getting involved in a multi-author project. I contacted Tom Ziglar about a foreword to one and was stopped at the gate by his father Zig Ziglar’s longtime assistant who said Zig never got involved in “multi-author projects.” I should have asked why but didn’t press it then. It used to be as simple as “if you pay to be published that’s vanity publishing,” but it’s not so simple anymore. There are tons of experienced publishers (individuals) today who have abandoned traditional publishing for “hybrid” business models that charge up-front fees while still sharing in the royalties. The fact that they’re not all scams became clear to me the more I was exposed to and dealt with these publishers. There are scams and there are great people out there who charge up-front fees. Caveat emptor!
As with anything, weigh the costs and the benefits when considering getting involved. Ask questions. What benefits are guaranteed? What are possible if not guaranteed? Much of it may depend on what you do with the book you’re a part of once it’s published (and it should be published “wide” across all major platforms unless there’s a specific niche-publishing strategy in place). But multi-author projects can be a great way to inexpensively gain publishing credentials (become a published author), reach new readers, grow your list, get your message out broadly, have a book you can leverage for all kinds of new opportunities, and expand your influence in your cause or career. Be aware that one person will have to take leadership of the project and you cannot count on all contributors to actively promote the title. Knowing this, it’s a matter of how you will use the book and what the publishing plan for it is that should determine the value of the project for you.
I’M INTERESTED in starting a new multi-author project and considering whether it might be something for coaches or a cause, something with a core message supported by various facets or ingredients, and maybe even more for the “365” series (I have a 365 CEO Quotes partially done). The purposes and economics have to be figured out. Will we self-publish? Seek a traditional publisher? Will contributors be paid or pay in to be a part of it or will we find a corporate sponsor? As I make progress with the idea for a next project I’ll post it here and keep my email list updated, and please, I’d love to hear your ideas!