Posts Tagged ‘publication’

Publishing Short Stories Traditionally (Part 3)

Here’s our final stop on this particular story type/publication method combination, Squiders.

Short Story Collections

Like anthologies, short story collections are, as the name implies, a collection of short stories. The main difference is that an anthology features the work of multiple authors, while a short story collection includes the work of only one. As such, short story collections tend to operate more along the same principles as novels than selling a single short story at a time.

The first step toward submitting and publishing a short story collection is to have written a number of short stories. These can be ones that have been previously published, or they can be new ones. A number of stories is necessary; most traditionally-published collections are equal in length to novels. These stories can be related, such as all featuring the same characters, or the same universe, but they do not need to be.

If you have an agent (see agents section–note for blog: not written as of yet, so don’t be confused that you can’t find it), you can have them submit to publishers for you; some publishers will accept submissions from unagented authors. Like novels, you will need to write a query letter that you or your agent can send out. The query letter will need to have statistical information about the collection (number of stories, word count, genre if possible, etc.) as well as some sort of hook to inspire a publisher to look closer at your stories. An interested publisher may ask for a sample, or may ask for the entire collection to aid in the decision-making process.

NOTE: Short story collections are notoriously hard sells, especially if you are not an established, traditionally-published author. Publishers typically find them hard to market, and readers may not pick up a collection if they are not previously familiar with the author in some way. Previously published stories may be an easier sell in this case, especially if they’ve been published in top-tier markets or have won industry or genre-specific awards. Alternately, short stories that are linked to a novel series can also be easier sells, since readers are more likely to seek them out to augment their reading of the series in between novels.

A publisher will have a contract you will need to agree to before they’ll publish your collection. If you do not have an agent, you might consider asking one or a rights-specific lawyer to look over the contract to make sure that you’re getting a fair deal. Some publishers will pay some amount of money up front, called an advance. You have to “earn through” your advance before you can start earning royalties. Others may not pay an advance at all.

All right! That’s it for traditionally publishing short stories. Please let me know if you feel I’m leaving anything out, or if anything is confusing.

I’m going to take about a week off of the book posts (I’m reading a terrible Star Trek novel to share with you guys on Friday) and then we’ll jump into self-publishing short stories (which is a massive beast). And then another break from those sorts of posts and then into the novels, egads.

Happy Tuesday!

Let’s Talk Format (also MileHiCon)

Okay, Squiders. The winner of the nonfic subject poll was submission and publication, so I’ve gone ahead and outlined that subject. I’ve tentatively called it a “quick” guide, but now that I’ve outlined it, it’s kind of massive, so I may have to rethink that.

Anyway, my general plan is to talk about the different types of publication, and then go through the submission/publication process by type of work (short story, novel, novella, etc.). I’m also going to have a “troubleshooting” section.

Which seems more logical to you?

  1. Organize the topic by publication type. So have all the self-publishing together (with the different work types as subsections), all the traditional publishing, and onward.
  2. Organize the topic by work type. So have a section, for example, for short stories, and then have subsections inside that for self-publishing, traditional publishing, etc.

Both seem like they could be equally useful (for example, if I do by work, someone who writes only short stories would have all the information they want in a single section, but if I do it by publication type, then someone who’s only interested in traditional publishing would have all that information in one place…), so I thought I’d see what you guys thought, especially since you’re my guinea pigs.

I suppose I could try it both ways here and see which works better in the end. Anyway, thoughts? Which would work better for you?

Also, if you have specific submitting/publishing questions or topics, let me know and I’ll incorporate them if I’m not already.

Also, as a reminder, I’m going to have a table at MileHiCon again this year! (Well, technically, it’s a table for Turtleduck Press, but since I shall be the only one manning it due to life eating people…) So if you’re in the general area of Denver, Colorado the last weekend of October, you should come and say hi!

Anyway, hope you’re having a lovely October! Let me know what you think about the format.

The Agony of Book Descriptions (Also: help!)

What is a book description you say, Squiders? It’s that thing that shows up next to a book on Amazon (or your favorite book-buying location) that gives you a basic run down of the plot so you know whether or not you want to read said book.

They also may go on a back cover/dust jacket on the book themselves.

For writers–they’re essentially queries, except now you’re querying the general public instead of agents/editors.

Book descriptions are hugely important–how you portray the book will directly influence who, if anyone, buys the thing. And in this age of author-led marketing, book descriptions often fall to authors rather than PR people. And you’ve got to tease just enough to get people to pick the book up without giving too much away. It’s a razor-thin line.

I am going mad, Squiders.

I’ve done book descriptions and queries before, of course, but Shards is actually the first adult book I’ve had to do them for. (Everything else has been YA. Which is interesting, because I write pretty equal shares YA and adult, but I guess I put the YA out there more.) And I’d say it has more complexity than other stuff I’ve done–layers of symbolism and mythology, plus most of the cast has millennia worth of background.

And somehow, I have to take everything, pick the right approach, and break it down into approximately 250 words to lure people in. The right people too, those that like mythology in their urban fantasy/paranormal romance and won’t mind that there’s not werewolves or vampires. (Or zombies.) Those that won’t mind some romance in with their plot.

I’ve been playing around, but I don’t know what’s best. I’ve got two viewpoint characters–Eva and Michael–and while Eva is definitely the main character, Michael’s obviously a major player as well. So I could try it from both their viewpoints–give them both a quick intro and then lay out how their conflicts intersect–or just Eva’s. I can play up the romance or avoid it. I could TEAR MY HAIR OUT BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW WHAT DIRECTION TO GO IN AUGH

I’ve got three and a half in action, and they’re all completely different, and I can’t tell if one of them is a better direction than the others, and the feedback I’ve gotten has been pretty evenly split.

Other authors–especially urban fantasy authors–any tips? Anything you like to remember when you do your own? Anything you’ve found especially helpful?

Readers–especially urban fantasy readers–what tends to make you pick a book up from its descriptions?

I am flailing around here like you wouldn’t believe, and any help would be appreciated.

Calm Yourself, Woman

I’m a mess, Squiders. My manuscript–the novel that’s coming out in December–is in my editor’s hands, and it’s the first time I’ve had a novel edited by an actual publication-process editor, and I desperately want her to love it and so I am kind of stalking her all the time to see if she’s talking about it at all on social media.

She’s not. The few times she’s mentioned anything it’s been things like “I started working on Kit’s book today” or “I need to work on Kit’s book tonight” which tells me nothing.

(Or, if my Inner Critic gets involved, it’s that she’s not saying anything else because she doesn’t like it, or it’s a huge mess, or…you get the point.)

Also, I sent my cover artist a copy of the book on the same day, so she can get a feel for the story and work her magic. This is the same artist who did my cover for Hidden Worlds (who coincidentally happens to be my cousin, but I like to think that it’s not nepotism because she does amazing work). And never mind that it hasn’t even been two weeks, but I kind of want to message her all the time to see if she’s done with the book, and whether she liked it.

I am driving myself insane, Squiders.

It’s just…this is my first real novel release, and I want everything to be sparkly and perfect, and right now everything’s out of my hands (aside for working on marketing, which is kind of exciting, but not really) and I’m going a little stircrazy.

So distract me. Offer me fun tidbits to look at or read, or send me platitudes to let me know that I haven’t gone completely insane, or discuss why the Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy nor Roman (nor an empire). Anything!