A couple weeks ago, I volunteered to do some research on average science fiction single-author anthology page counts and story quantities for an established writing colleague. It was a really interesting project, so I thought I’d share some of the challenges I encountered, my methodology, and key findings here.

Getting started: Challenges & Initial Methodology

I thought this would be pretty straightforward: I just needed to go to a book vendor website and sort for print anthologies tagged “Science Fiction” or “Science Fiction & Fantasy” .

Unfortunately, the book vendor websites I tried don’t have the search flexibility/depth I needed for this project, so I ended up going over to Worldcat.org, the world’s largest library catalog.

At Worldcat, I tried to find results by searching for “science fiction” and “anthology”, narrowing the format to print book, and English language, but my control searches (i.e.., the single-author anthologies I used as a baseline) didn’t work.

As in, I searched for books I knew should pop in the search, but they didn’t. And the search results were almost all entirely multi-author anthologies: not what I was looking for.

Final Methodology

So, I changed my strategy. Using my control single-author anthologies, I searched for them in Worldcat, and then looked at the subject headings and categories tagged to them.

This meant my Worldcat search term was now: “su: Short stories, American”. This means, unfortunately, my search was not genre fiction-specific, but at least I was successfully able to locate my control anthologies with it.

There were many, many results. I narrowed them down to 27,927 hits by selecting “print book” only, and then to 22,987 by narrowing them to “English” only.

When I looked at publication years, the 5 most recent publication years were:

  • 2020 – 128 results
  • 2019 – 514 results
  • 2018 – 621 results
  • 2017 – 735 results
  • 2016 – 748 results

I decided looking at the 128 anthologies published in 2020 would probably give me a good, recent sampling, so I went with that.

I decided not to look at single author anthologies targeted at younger than the Young Adult category. I also tried to eliminate exact reprints of already published anthologies. If a reprint included new stories from authors or were the first times stories from authors had been collected in this way, I kept them in my searches.

Worldcat didn’t have all the info I was looking for – specific publication dates of anthologies were a pain to locate, so I ended up copy/pasting the ISBNs and pulling up the books in Amazon to get the actual dates. Page counts also varied slightly, because Amazon includes all pages, while Worldcat separates front/back matter and gives page counts for the body of the text.


56 of the 128 results for anthologies published in 2020 met my search criteria. Of those 56 results:

  • 21 were genre fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance, mystery, etc).
  • Of the genre fiction anthologies, 11 were science fiction, 4 were horror, 3 were mystery, 2 were romance, and 1 was fantasy.
  • The average number of stories per anthology was about 19 stories. The average number of stories per genre anthology was about 14 stories.
  • The average page count per anthology was 241 pages. The average page count per genre anthology was 283 pages.
  • About half of the 56 anthologies were written by authors with traditionally female first names.
  • The most popular release month during my review period was January (12 anthologies released), followed by May (11 anthologies published). The least popular months were June (1 anthology published) and February (6 anthologies published).

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