I subscribe to a number of writing and publishing-related blogs, most of which are owned by self-published writers, though my favorite blogs are those by Dean Wesley Smith and his wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch. They both straddle self-publishing and traditional publishing, and I appreciate their openness to both methods of getting one’s stories out.
Too often I see writers from either camp drinking the zero-sum game Kool Aid, i.e., you either self-publish or traditionally publish, and the other side of the argument is always wrong (indie writers scorn traditionally published ones, and traditionally published writers look down on indie writers, etc.).
For my part, every new writing project goes through a good deal of back-and-forth debating with myself, and what I finally decide on insofar as publishing methods are concerned depends largely on what my needs are regarding that particular story or book. More often than not, I go the traditional route because I can’t afford to hire an editor, though I can work with a cover artist whose rates are very reasonable. There’s also the issue surrounding distribution and clout, which my publisher’s very good with.
Anyway, as I try to barrel through the rest of Rose and Spindle (which I’ll be traditionally publishing), I’m starting to turn my attention to what comes after, which is short fiction. Or the next collection of thematically linked short stories that I plan to publish. Once again, I find myself straddling the fence on this because while I need the services that publisher can provide me, I’m also now wondering about time issues.
I guess, after enjoying the recent release of my first batch of short stories, my novel-writing fatigue is steering me straight toward shorter fiction indefinitely. Thank heavens for e-publishing and the freedom we now have in writing and releasing all kinds of fiction lengths.
Time’s certainly an issue now because short stories are great “space fillers” in between longer books, and they do help keep your name out there. When I first started publishing, I wrote nothing but novels, and there were large gaps of time between each release. During that time, I had nothing to offer, and it was like starting over in the marketing department with every new novel my publisher released.
With a regular supply of short stories, though, I can keep my name relevant in the market and hopefully win new readers who’re more likely to sample my style of writing first via short fiction before taking the plunge and investing so many hours reading my novels.
Anyway, back to Dean Wesley Smith…
He recently posted an article regarding short fiction and whether or not a writer can make a living off strictly that, and I found it very interesting and illuminating. Yes, it’s risky, but writing for a living will always be risky. There are too many factors involved that affect one’s earnings at any given point in time.
Smith’s article also got me thinking about niche fiction and whether or not writing short speculative fiction for gay teens will help me reach my “ultimate goal” of writing full time eventually. Seeing as how I’ve only recently released my first collection and won’t see another published till early next year at best (if I were to go strictly traditional publishing), I can’t say for sure. This quarter hasn’t ended yet, so it’ll be a while before I receive my royalty statement for April – June and see what trends have developed since the beginning of the year.
For now, logic dictates a steady stream of releases, both short and longer fiction. I suppose for tiny markets like mine, I need to work doubly hard and remember to supplement, supplement, supplement. The amount of energy and focus required to pull this off successfully makes me want to curl up in a corner, suck my thumb, and rock myself to utter denial.
There are a few methods Smith notes that don’t apply to what I do, so that kind of limits what I can earn from my short stories, but all the same, everything’s uncharted territory for me, and I’m both excited and anxious about it. I’ll definitely be taking the plunge, but at the moment, I’m still debating on whether or not I should go indie or trad; each choice has its benefits and drawbacks, and as usual, it all depends on what I need for this new group of stories.
At any rate, I figured I’d share the link with you in case you’re also grappling with questions involving the short fiction market.