Poetry was my first love affair with writing…” – Samuel Peralta
We met when he was a trending twitter poet, @Semaphore, but now Samuel Peralta has shape-shifted from publishing red-hot poetry like Sonata Vampirica to his short story anthology series, Future Chronicles. These hit the No.1 spot on Amazon time after time, and I contributed a short story to his latest, Alt.History 102. In his own words, here’s how he began publishing best-selling anthologies.
THE ACCIDENTAL ANTHOLOGIST
by Samuel Peralta
First of all, I’d like to say, thank you Jennifer, for allowing me to put down my thoughts for your blog. I still think of myself as a writer first, and then an accidental anthologist.
Poetry was my first love affair with writing, one I’d built some small reputation on. But after accolades and online success, I’d gone through some soul-searching when one of my manuscripts spent a year languishing with a major literary publisher.
For a while after that, it felt like my love affair with writing had ended.
“Trauma Room” was the first piece I was able to put together after that disappointment, partly to prove to myself that I could still write.
I’d meant “Trauma Room” to be a sample piece, to convince editors I had the chops, to take a chance on me. I couldn’t have predicted what happened next.
In short order, three other stories I’d written were included in separate science fiction anthologies: “Hereafter” in David Gatewood’s Synchronic, “Liberty: Seeking a Writ of Habeas Corpus for a Non-Human Being” in Hugo award winner John Joseph Adams’s Help Fund My Robot Army, and “Humanity” in my own The Robot Chronicles, which I organized and produced with editor David Gatewood.
The three anthologies were released within weeks of one another. To my shock, all of them promptly marched up the Amazon bestseller charts, pulling me up the rankings along with the other authors I’d been lucky enough to hitch a ride with.
Within around 10 weeks of the publication of the first anthology, I hit the Top 10 Science Fiction Authors on Amazon, peaking at #8.
When I approached authors with the concept for what would become The Robot Chronicles, I had no inkling of how powerful the idea of a continuing anthology series would become. At that point in independent publishing, the balance was in favor of the novel or the novel series. Indeed, many authors, concentrating on their large works-in-progress, simply didn’t have the extra time to write self-contained, standalone stories, no matter if it was only ten thousand words or less.
They did have a point.
The art of the short story is a very different sort of art. It’s the minuet to the novel’s symphony. It isn’t a narrative epic; it’s a sonnet.
You don’t have the time to explore the grand themes in detail, to orchestrate a broad cast of characters. But within the short form, everything still applies—the hero’s journey, the revelation, the turn.
I’ve always loved reading short stories, and what we’ve tried to do with the Future Chronicles series is to create, as our first editor David Gatewood has said, “a place where a reader can reliably expect quality storytelling from start to finish.”
The Robot Chronicles was followed by The Telepath Chronicles, The Alien Chronicles, and then in quick succession A.I., Dragon, Z, and on, and still readers wanted more.
We’ve just released the volume Alt.History 102, an exciting book on alternative history, and are poised to release The Doomsday Chronicles, the fourteenth of the series.
It’s still amazing to me that every single one of the Chronicles has eventually risen to become the #1 Anthology title on Amazon, in its chosen speculative fiction genre, whether science fiction, fantasy, or horror.
Some have risen to the top ten of the Amazon bestsellers lists for all genres. One, The Immortality Chronicles, was voted in an influential writers’ workshop Readers Poll as the Best Anthology of 2015.
There’s no way I can take full credit. I’ve been privileged to work alongside visionary new authors and the grandmasters of modern speculative fiction. They’re the power behind the Chronicles, independent authors like Susan Kaye Quinn, Peter Cawdron, Ann Christy, P.K. Tyler, and more well-known authors like Robert J. Sawyer, Ken Liu, Julie Czerneda, Seanan McGuire. Without these and scores of other authors too many to name here, the story would have been different.
I still think of myself as an accidental anthologist. But what an amazing journey it’s been!
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Author Photo Credit: Antosia Fiedur Photography