Hot Takes by Holly

A Few Words on Anthology Etiquette

Picture this. I’m reading a romance anthology. It feels like a low-stakes way to try out new authors, and if I’ve got a big, meaty one, it keeps me busy for a while, as I read one novella after another. Yes, I’m a weirdo who reads anthologies front to back. (I did this even before e-books made it harder to flip around.) 

Anyways, I’m reading a romance anthology. This story seems promising! It’s a bodyguard romance, and there’s a suspense element involved. The heroine has a stalker—and the pictures the stalker sends get increasingly more chilling as the book progresses. The bodyguard establishes that the stalker is a member of the heroine’s close inner circle. The final picture arrives, of the heroine holding her best friend’s baby.

And then the book ends. 

And I discover that the follow-up hasn’t been published, even though the original was published in 2016 and the anthology was put together in 2021.

I am big mad.

Here’s my hot take: Don’t include a book with a cliffhanger in an anthology. I feel manipulated as a reader, like you’re using your inclusion as a sneaky way to get me to read more of your stuff, instead of resting on the strength of your writing to entice new readers.

Here’s my hotter take: I am not about to tell writers what to write. If you don’t want to finish your series—or can’t finish your series, for any reason—then don’t. If you end on a cliffhanger, that’s a bummer for readers, but authors are not wish-fulfillment robots. HOWEVER. Double don’t put your cliffhanger teaser in an anthology unless the resolution is actually available for people to read! (Or, in the case of readers who are petty like me, dig up spoilery reviews about.) That’s just bad marketing. 

This Hot Take by Holly is brought to you by the Romance for Roe anthology, which, except for the cliffhanger, has been pretty fun to read through.

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