Wednesday, 20 May 2015
After self-publishing my story collection in 2013, I learned pretty quickly that the readership I had spent 20 years building had pretty much all wandered away when I stopped writing. To be fair, I sold more than a few copies of the book - more than 100 altogether, which by self-publishing standards makes it something of a success. Short story collections do not sell as well as novels. That's a fact. And I didn't have much promotional machinery behind it - despite getting some fabulous reviews from some top reviewers on Goggle and some pretty awesome readers and writers on Goodreads.
What short stories are good for is getting your name out into the marketplace - into publications that other writers are trying to break into and that some people actually read for pleasure. Publishing the traditional way - in other words by sending your stories out to editors in the hope that they will like it enough to pay you to run your story - is the best way to build your credibility in a hurry. You can write the stories over weeks and months instead of years...and then the publishers get the stories in front of awards voters and best of the year editors and critics.
It is however, a tough marketplace out there. A publication that's too easy to get into is probably not worth getting into.
I started off 2015 with an inventory of half a dozen stories that has grown to twice that in the intervening months. I sold a rewrite of an older stories to start the year. Then March saw the publication of the Exile Book of New Canadian Noir - to whom I sold a story in summer 2014. And now, the Canadian e-magazine Black Treacle has just published my story "The Ones Your Mother Gives You."
I hope people like them as much as my older fans liked my stories like "Fourth Person Singular" "Memory Games." Because it's definitely a new marketplace, with new preoccupations and sets of rules. Writing horror can be especially tricky - because so many of the things that tend to horrify us do so by offending our sensibilities. When you offend people these days, they are often quite vocal about it. And they are easily offended. Words like rape and madness can be triggers that will set people off before they've even considered the context or the message of the story.
Here are the stories that have appeared so far this year and where to find them:
"The Children of Bonetown" 9 Tales Told in the Dark #4
"Nunavut Thunderfuck" The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir
"The Ones Your Mother Gives You" Black Treacle #9
Thanks for any of them that you take the time to check out.