Saturday, July 26, 2014

On "Publishing Sparingly But Well," a Comparison to Brian Keene's "GHOUL" and Where I Go From Here


With all the madness that spawned last Thursday/Friday with my very short trip to NECON and my wife's emergency appendectomy, two awesome reviews popped up on Amazon for Devourer of Souls that I didn't get to acknowledge. One of them said something particularly interesting about me in general, and I've sorta been thinking about it all week.

The first review comes from T. L. Barrett, who says this:
I can't choose which tale I love more, as they complement each other and allegorically reveal how as young people we are subjected to the legacy of pain and insanity of our communities and families. With a pitch-perfect balance of nostalgia, darkness, and pathos Lucia has looked back on the world of yesterday, a world so technologically different then today, yet so hauntingly close for some of us. This reminds me of Keene's Ghoul...
Of course I've been blown away by the repeated references to Stephen King (perhaps my favorite writer, period), but it's also immensely gratifying to have Devourer compared to Ghoul, one of my favorite Brian Keene (another favorite writer, and friend) novels. It's certainly been an influential work (cause I'm a sucker for the coming of age tale. Can you tell?).

Second comes a review from writer and long-time friend, Lincoln Crisler:
Lucia does an excellent job of creating characters that are real, scarred and flawed and putting them into situations that test them; not physically, because that would be too easy, but on a spiritual level, at the very fiber of their beings. There's also a lot to be said for his economy of language and tight storytelling; there's nothing wasted here. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys good, solid horror writing.
One thing Lincoln mentioned in the opening of his review, however, got me thinking. He said this:
I've been reading Lucia's work for about seven years now, and it's always struck me how sparingly--but well--he's published. And between this and his collection, THINGS SLIP THROUGH, it's apparent that he's waited to come out of the gate full-force until he's had a killer body of work to present from the get-go.
I've never really thought about this, but I suppose it's true. Since I really started taking my writing seriously back in 2006, I've seen the following works published:

Hiram Grange & Those Chosen One - novella, Shroud Publishing: 2010
And I Watered It, With Tears - serial novella, Lamplight Magazine, 2012-2013
Things Slip Through - short story collection, Crystal Lake Publishing, 2013
Devourer of Souls - linked novellas, Ragnarok Publishing, 2014

And with exception of a handful of short stories, that's it. Four works in eight years. Not exactly prolific. Yet, I write  roughly two hours a day, every day. Have for the past eight years. Sometimes I write a lot more than that. But for one reason or another, I've haven't seen a lot of that published.

There are many reasons for that. One would be a year and half spent almost exclusively on my Billy the Kid Weird Western. That's in final editing stages. Another reason would be a year spent on a 600 page novel that fell apart under its own weight. And another reason would be the six months I spent on my Creative Writing Master's Thesis, a 40K novella that I haven't seen fit to re-write, yet.

Also? Last count...

- Four unfinished novellas, one of which I'm currently working on right now
- a handful of partially begun short stories
- two first draft, completed short stories
- the beginnings of another novel
- a solicited serial novella for The Midnight Diner, which is in the final editing phase
- a yet-to-be-announced novella entitled Mystery Road that has been accepted "unofficially" for ebook and maybe print also

Despite only having three solo works published, I'm always writing, all the time. Sometimes I get called away in the middle of a project - to finish BILLY, to write the solicited novella or short story, to compile the collection, etc - and sometimes I hit knots  I know only time will unravel, so I put those works aside and start working on something new.

I'm really not sure if publishing so sparingly has been a conscious decision, or simply the way things have worked out. I can say I've purposely been slow to explore self-publishing. I'm still a proponent of traditional publishing (for me, anyway), and I still need the satisfaction of passing a gatekeeper's muster. I plan on continuing that strategy. You won't see a slew of self-published novels from me anytime soon.

I have, however, released a few short stories on Kindle, and I will be releasing a mini-collection of previously published and unpublished stories not compiled in TST, called Strange Ways,  October 2014. Also, I plan to release a collection of my previously published non-fiction, "slice of life stories" sometime in the future, too.

Another thing to consider is I haven't yet developed a "relationship" with just one publisher. So, I don't have an editor asking me, "What do you have for me next?" And I Watered It, With Tears will be getting an ebook re-release as Drowning from Ragnarok in the near future, but that's the only publisher to publish more than one work of mine. 

I can say, with great satisfaction, that I believed I have published well, at least. I remember a long-ago blog by author Maurice Broaddus, in which he said it was "better to not be published at all, than be published badly." That made a huge impact on me. It made me slow down, stop rushing, and become much more careful about whom I sent my work to. 

I've loved working with Shroud, Lamplight, Crystal Lake, and Ragnarok. They've been very professional, have produced excellent products, have also published other great authors, putting me in excellent company. The covers have been beautiful, as well as the fine details.

Where do I go from here?

Well, I've always maintained that wherever I published my work next, I want it to be a step higher than I was before. That, of course, means the possibility of rejection. I was recently rejected by DarkFuse, and that's okay. I'll hit them again in the future. Dark Region Books is on the hit list, as well as Medallion, Samhain Horror and Angry Robot Books.

Higher. Always higher, one rung at a time. Until I suddenly become flush with the cash flow (unlikely) to afford professional editors and cover artists for self-published works, that's the way it's going to be for me. One step at a time, writing every single day along the way.

So, yeah. I guess "publishing sparingly but well" fits the bill....