I've just received a royalty check for Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror--this check is mostly for e-book sales for the Kindle: 540 copies to be exact. This has helped the anthology earn out. It gives me hope for the future of e-books and for my continued career as a short story editor/anthologist.
The market's really tough right now and selling anthologies (at least mine) seems harder than ever. The market has always been tight but for a few years it seemed to open up a bit. Now it's contracted again, more writers are dabbling in anthology editing and publishers want BIG NAME AUTHORS editing anthologies for them (or at least co-editing them) sometimes with the actual editor named as "co-editor" and doing most if not all the heavy lifting. There's nothing inherently wrong with this. It's the perception that readers will see BNA under the title of the book and buy that book because his/her name is on the cover (and possibly but frankly less likely) that they'll buy the book because there is also a story by that BNA in the book). Does this work? I've no idea since I've never co-edited an anthology with a BNA.
I love editing anthologies and have no intention of stopping--unless the market no longer allows me to. The market is you. Just like any writer, my books have to sell enough copies to earn out or publishers won't commission another one. There's a constant juggling act of "how much advance must I get in order to pay contributors fairly and continue to pay my rent"? How many low paying anthologies must I edit in order to make a living? (too many, which is why I need a few higher paying ones).
Editing anthologies exclusively is like any freelance gig: feast or famine. When my tax guy asks how much I think I'll be earning this year I have to say "well I know I'm getting a big chunk of money mid-year from such and such" but that might be it. Depends on what I sell and for how much. Which is a roundabout way of saying that I'm really glad these royalties from Tachyon came in when they did --and I'll bet my contributors will be happy as well.
Oh yeah, and if someone offered me a regular job editing a magazine/webzine for a real salary, I'd jump at it. I love editing sf/f/h stories. I hope that never changes.
- E-books and other thoughts on publishing & editing