Hear me out, because it's true, even if it means I'm old. Just like albums when I was a kid, anthologies told a complete story, one that had an ebb and flow, and there were certain places an author wanted to be to know their story was one of the best in the anthology.
Lead off. This is my place in the Hot Off the Press Anthology from Dreamspinner (get it here) and I was surprised and honored to get it. That means the editor thought my story was strong enough to be the very first story readers saw, that it would pull the reader in and make them want more.
Final story. My wife BA got this honor in Horsing Around, edited by Vincent Diamond. This is the spot to anchor the whole anthology, the last glimpse of this book the readers see. The lasting impression.
The middle. Right smack in the middle. Story 5 of 10 for example. This means your story is there to keep readers going. Often this story is longer or shorter than the others, something really different in pacing.
I have to admit, I'm spoiled enough to have seen my stories fill these spots that when they don't, I'm disappointed. Sad. I'm not saying all stories in an anthology can't be stellar. I think I've been charmed to be in some of the best company in the business that way. I'm just saying that to an old broad like me, anthology order is like listening to Abbey Road in order, the way it was meant to be heard. It matters.
Does that matter to a modern reader at all? Thoughts?