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Welcome back, and thank you for the overwhelmingly supportive response to this column! Please keep the questions coming, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: I’m a big fan of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series and I’ve always wondered if there have been any Chicken Soup- type books written for the LGBT community. I can’t seem find any such book by any publisher. I’ve thought about trying to edit one myself, but have never published a book before let alone an anthology. Regardless, I’m still wondering about the idea. I feel it is so important to encourage LGBT folk in this world, which is not always very warm and affirming of who we are. Such an anthology about how great it is to be gay and success stories of being affirmed is so needed, I believe.
My questions are: are you aware of any Chicken Soup type books for the LGBT community?
And, what do think about a novice author, but seasoned journalist, taking on such an endeavor in today’s fast-changing book publishing environment?
There are no official Chicken Soup books for the LGBT community that I could find either, but Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times for Teens does have one coming-out story in it (“A Lonely Astronaut”).
There are many affirming anthologies for LGBT folks, though. Not surprisingly, many of them are aimed toward teens and young adults. I’d love to see more adult inspirational stories; not everyone comes out early in life.
Here’s a quick list of a few that I’ve read, or that looked promising to me from their blurbs and reviews:
Best Date Ever (Gay) edited by Lawrence Schimel
Best Date Ever (Lesbian) edited by Linda Alvarez
Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones
Growing Up Gay by Funny Gay Males
Growing Up Gay/Growing Up Lesbian edited by Bennett L. Singer
Speaking Out: LGBTQ Youth Stand Up (stories about overcoming adversity) edited by Steve Berman
When I Knew by Robert Trachtenberg
Readers, if you have any books to add to this list, please share them in the comments!
Now, on to your second question…
Just because such books exist, doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more, but an anthology is indeed a hard task to take on. I have now edited two of them, and have been a participant in seven others as an author, to date. I’ve seen them managed well, and I’ve seen them managed very poorly. They take a lot of work and superior organizational skills – sets of muscles a journalist has already trained, but which will likely be stretched in different ways as an anthologist.
My suggestion: Do more research and see what’s out there.
Your message suggests that your desire to create an anthology is mostly because you perceive a void that needs filling. If you’re concerned about taking such a weighty project onto your shoulders, perhaps a better way to get your feet wet would be participating in other projects rather than building your own from the ground up.
You could look into volunteering your journalism experience toward causes like the It Gets Better Project (itgetsbetter.org) or the Trevor Project (thetrevorproject.org). If you want to participate through fiction, check out the publishers and editors of some of those resources above and keep track of what they’re working on next. New anthologies are calling for submissions all the time. Seeing how anthologies work from the author side is a great way to get involved, and will definitely help you see what goes into being an anthologist and introduce you to connections from whom you can ask advice and learn.
Q: Should song titles be in italics or in quotes? What about album titles?
The songs and albums thing always trips me up. But there’s a simple way to remember this one: Complete works should be in italics, while smaller pieces of larger works should be in quotation marks. So, a movie or a novel or an album is a whole, complete work, and it should be in italics. If italics aren’t an option, you’ll see a title in all caps instead. A song, or a short story within an anthology, or a short film that’s part of a larger series in a single packaged unit, isn’t “big” enough to get italics, and should be in quotes.