Friday, October 11, 2013

Let's Be Honest, PART TWO

First, before today's post - and very timely, considering today's topic - good news on the short story front. Horror Library 5 released its final cover yesterday, (there on the left), and will soon be on sale. 

It will feature my short story "Almost Home," a story I'm very proud of because it marks one of the first stories written while grappling with deeper, emotional and spiritual questions. It's also the only horror short story my wife has ever read and liked, so there's that, too.

The final TOC has yet to be announced, but it marks a milestone, (one I hope will be broken in the next few months with another acceptance,  but we'll see), in that it's the biggest lineup I've ever been in. I'll be featured alongside Ray Garton, Jeff Strand, BENTLEY LITTLE, and others. 

That's right, Bentley Little - the guy Stephen King called "horror's poet laureate." Definitely cool to crack Horror Library's lineup, which is, I dare say, pretty exclusive.  

Here's the thing: I had to wait for this. For three years. That's certainly not a standard waiting time and throughout that period, Cutting Block Press was changing hands, the Horror Library series changing hands too, so this also wasn't a standard waiting time for them. 

But THREE YEARS. And it's not even a "pro-pay" (five cents a word) market.  Also, Horror Library's editing process was INTENSIVE. More so than I've ever experienced.  I actually had to (mildly)  argue a few points in the story.

Bottom line?

I could've walked away at any point. Said: "Forget this and you. This story has been sitting with you for three years, and I'm tired of waiting."

But I didn't do that, see. I waited. Why? Because I wanted to be in a Horror Library volume. Scan past TOC's of Horror Library collections and you'll see - along with Bentley Little - names like Gary Braunbeck, Kealan Patrick Burke, Nate Kenyon, John Mantooth... THIS was a place I wanted my story to land. I wanted to join the ranks of these professionals who had been published in Horror Library.  Also, editor RJ Cavender travels all over, to World Horror and KillerCon and all the biggies, and now my story will be traveling with him.

And see, I was willing to wait for all this.

Just like I'm waiting right now, on three novellas sitting with top-flight publishers, folks who do marvelous jobs on their end products. They enjoy dedicated customer bases, and publishing with them will increase my "cred" a hundred-fold. 

However, one novella has been with said publisher for almost a year. The other two, five months. But: I have no problem waiting even longer. These two publishers are among the best, and I want to be published by the best, so I'm willing to wait, risking rejection along the way.

Also, Billy the Kid: Down in the Dark has a shot with a large publisher that has international distribution.  But that's a BIG publisher who could easily just say no. Let's be honest, they've published far better writers than myself, and lots of writers better than me are probably trying to get published there, too. But it's worth the risk, because they could leapfrog me ahead in my career, so I'm also willing to risk their rejection.

But, of course, that niggling little voice and temptation keeps making itself known. Because, hey: I don't have to wait, right? I don't have to risk rejection, right? I COULD self-publish those titles right now, get them into the hands of potentially thousands to millions of readers on Amazon as quickly as I want, right? Why wait on a short story - like I'm waiting right now, on two more? Couldn't I release them tomorrow, if I wanted?

Well, yeah.

I guess.

Of course, there's nice, professional covers to consider. See, I honestly think some folks are interested in my upcoming collection Things Slip Through just because its cover is so professionally done and, honestly, SLAMMING. 

And a nice cover that meets my standards will probably cost me at least $100, maybe more. Also, I'd have to pay for ebook formatting, because quite honestly I don't want to spend all my time formatting. I want to be a writer, not a publisher. And I'd want the formatting done RIGHT. So that's roughly another $100.

There's marketing to consider. Now, marketing is one of those "things" that's never guaranteed to make you a bestseller. In the end: good writing sells. I firmly believe that. BUT, Crystal Lake has done a BANG-UP job getting my collection into the hands of reviewers and blurbers, getting it to bloggers, ezines, magazines, etc. Again - something that would take up my writing time. 

And, my editor at Crystal Lake has done an AMAZING job perfecting my prose, spotting errors, proofing the manuscript, keeping me honest, and pointing out my little writing quirks. As a self-published author, that'd all rest on my head, or be yet ANOTHER service I'd have to pay for if I wanted things done professionally.

Here's the kicker: I teach at a small private school that pays a livable wage and that's about it. My family is currently budgeting. I have no start-up capital for a "small business," which is basically the best way to think about self-publishing the RIGHT way. 

Also, I teach full time, have two rambunctious  kids 8 and under (one of them with special needs), and over summer break, Abby works full time and I watch the kids. I have roughly two hours a day to write. I DON'T want to spend those hours "publishing."

Of course, I can't ignore self-publishing forever, and I don't intend to, especially because, in the end, my goal is readers. Loyal readers. I can't guarantee how much money I'll make from writing, and I can't guarantee how many folks will actually read my work. But now, more than ever, tools do exist that can potentially help me connect with readers more quickly and immediately. 

The key with every tool, of course, is figuring out how to make it work best for me. And, in some takes time to do that. Time...

And waiting. For the right time...