Showing posts from March, 2016

The Evolution of Reading

I understand pretty much all of the arguments for e-books: ecological friendliness (Save a Tree!), lower costs, availability, accessibility, scalable type and so on. Good arguments. But it's rare to hear anyone talk about the downsides. And oh, yes, there are downsides. I understand that a lot of people read on their phones, and in fact, I see people doing it. But I simply cannot comprehend how someone could indulge in that activity for any extended length of time. A cellphone has never struck me as an acceptable medium for reading fiction. Tweets and texts – fine. Most web sites are built to absorb in snippets. But chowing down on a 2000 or 3000 word essay – not so much. Even short stories lose continuity for me, as I zip from one screen to the next. I am a reader who frequently flicks backward and forward; rereading passages to better appreciate something that comes later; doublechecking the names of characters to make sure they are who I think they are; reestablishing

The Rise of the Accidental Small Publisher

So the short story marketplace is becoming incredibly crowded and competitive. Other than being a great time to buy short story collections and anthologies – what does that say about the literary landscape? Is it actually easier – or harder to get a novel published these days than a short story? Well if we're talking big name publishers, it's almost certainly harder than ever before. Lots of publishers have gone under in the past fifteen years – unable to hold their own in a marketplace where people who can barely string a coherent sentence together suddenly have the power to make their dreams come true by self-publishing a book. According to a 2002 NY Times article by Joseph Epstein, more than 80% of people in the U.S.A. believe they have a book in them and 80,000 books are published in America every year. Remember – this was 2002 – ten years before the self publishing boom. These days, every one of those 200 million people has the resources to self-publish their book.

Short Stories ARE the Big Time These Days

Writing short stories used to be a sort of apprenticeship for aspiring writers - a great way to hone your craft in preparation for the big time. But in today's ultra-competitive marketplace, it make have become just the opposite. An ongoing cage match for expert practitioners of the form. When I finished writing my story, "They Fell Away," I was certain that it was one of the best things I've ever written. I remain confident in it -  but for the sake of keeping it real and properly tempering my expectations - in the hope that it make the process of writing and submitting stories more bearable - I gave some thought to the actual odds of getting an acceptance whenever one sends out a story. "They Fell Away"  bounced last week from a one cent a word market called  Hypnos . The respected bi-annual, semi-pro mag gave me a short personal response essentially saying that they had been discussing it and decided not to take it. At least they discussed it - which