Brick by Brick
Trying to get short fiction published in this current market is about as easy as making it through airport security with a foreign name and unfondled genitals. This is particularly true if you're A. a horror writer, and B. if you want to get paid for being one. There are many reasons for this, but because I want to be professional and maintain my pretty much nonexistent reputation in this field, I'm not quite ready to unleash my fury just yet. Instead, I'm going to focus on generating solutions.
I love short stories. I love reading them and I love writing them, and I like to think I'm getting pretty good at it. I have written several, and I'd love to get them out to readers, even if they don't make me rich. What can I do to break through this ever-mounting wall of bullshit standing between me and "legitimate" publication? I've decided on a hybrid plan of action.
First, I've decided to stop spending hours and hours sifting through markets that are drying up left and right (click on Pro Markets on Ralan.com and you will see what I mean). There are still industry stalwarts out there that pay well, have solid followings, and can help authors advance into organizations like the SFWA and HWA, and gain notice by various awards folk like Hugo, etc. Such markets include Analog, Asimov's, Clarkesworld, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Apex, Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, and a few others. I've assembled a Top Ten list of such markets that best represent what I write or might write, and I will attempt to place my short stories into one of them first. I will do that because such institutions still mean something. Just as even the most jaded garage band would still love to cart home a Grammy, I would really love a Hugo Award and a membership in the SFWA someday. No, it won't define me as a writer, but it's just a dream of mine. Don't knock it.
Why have I narrowed down the market list so much? It's simple, really. I want to aim high. It not only forces me to write at a higher caliber, but it also is a matter of me respecting my own work by trying to sell it to people who know what they're doing and can get it in front of a lot of people. If I can place my work with a professional publication that pays pro rates, or even with a lower-paying publication that at least has good circulation (similar to the markets in which I've already published stories, like The Absent Willow Review or Reflection's Edge), I will do so. In the event I will be unable to place a story with a desirable market, or when the rights on a previously-published story revert back to me, I will self-publish.
Under the Scotch Broom", which ran in Absent Willow last April. It is currently sitting on Barnes & Noble's website available as a $.99 download for those who might like to add it to their Nooks or Nook-app-having devices. Eventually, I will be doing this for my other previously published stories, "Dust," "Vermin," "Aria," and a few others that I'm pretty confident won't find a home with a publisher, not because they are sub-par so much as they're just strange little orphans who haven't been able to find a the right home.
Actually, I uploaded "Scotch Broom" to the Barnes & Noble PubIt! site back in October when the service first launched, mostly as a test case to see how the process worked. While I still have some things to learn in regards to formatting, the whole thing was up for sale in a matter of a few hours (most of that involved making the cover art). I didn't advertise it much, because I wasn't sure if it was something I was going to pursue as a regular gig. But the more I think about it, the more I feel this might end up being the best course of action for getting more of my work out there and maintaining more control over that work.
So pretty soon, you will see a "Downloads" section up and running here on the site. Of course you'll know more when it happens. I'm looking forward to the future. In the meantime, if you have a Nook-compatible device (Nook, Nook Color, iPhone/iPad/iPod, PC, Android phone/tablet), why not download Under the Scotch Broom? It's one of the few awesome things you can get for a buck these days. And it's DRM-free! Not to worry, Kindle fans, it should be up for sale on Amazon in a day or so, and I will post accordingly.