I am extremely excited to say that my first science fiction novel has been given the green light for publishing! I will be working with a fantastic team over at New Degree Press over the next several months to make sure that the story is as good as it can be. If you’ve read any of my work on this site, you’ll know that I love a good story and I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a little nervous setting out to tell my own.
Been writing for my whole life, but I would say that I’ve only actually been riding with a purpose for about a year, maybe a little less. I’ve been told that I tend to dive head first into things, and writing has been new exception to that rule for me. However, of all of the hobbies and obsessions and various things that I’ve dove into over the years, this one has lasted by far the longest. I truly and deeply enjoy storytelling, and I’m extremely excited to see what sort of stories I can tell that people want to hear.
Throughout this process I think I’m going to take a page out of some other author’s books, figuratively of course, and try and document my experience with publishing. The amazing folks that I’m going to be working with to get this book published are not a traditional press, and I’ll dive into what that means here.
I’ve done a ton of research into the current state of the publishing industry, and had some amazing people coach me through a sort of crash course. My initial experiences with publishing have been with magazines and journals. I thought, perhaps a little naively, that I would be able to write some short stories polish them up get some good inputs on them and then submit them to magazines for publication. Some might get picked up some might not, but I figured I had enough of an awesome support team and enough fire in the belly that surely something would get picked up. I have since learned that the short story publishing landscape is one that is incredibly crowded. There are so many awesome authors writing amazing stories these days, and then submitting them, that it’s almost impossible to stand out or catch an editor’s eye unless you have the exact story that that editor is looking for at that magazine at that specific day. Now don’t get me wrong, my short fiction probably leaves a lot to be desired as every story I write gets a little bit better, so I by no means feel like any of my work should have been published that wasn’t. I did, however, make a friend in the publishing industry who coached me through what it’s like to be an editor of a science fiction magazine these days.
She had a 1-month open call for short fiction, and this was all the way down in the thousand-word flash fiction range. They averaged about 10 submissions a day, which put them at 300 or so for the cycle, and they had enough money to purchase 12. So as you can see, the odds of getting picked up are extremely low. She mentioned at one point in a reread cycle, they couldn’t make up their minds on which to stay and which would go, and so they actively looked for reasons to throw manuscripts out. This is a relatively small and new magazine as well, so the effect of this on something like Clarkesworld or Lightspeed is magnified tenfold.
So what else is a burgeoning author to do? Well, you can always go it alone. Self-publishing is easier today than it ever has been in the past, between sites like Amazon and Goodreads, anybody can publish anything. Having something published however, does not necessarily lead to that item selling or even making its way around in a free version. You have to build an audience. Traditional publishers, assuming you come to them without an agent, won’t even consider spending the time to read your manuscript unless you can guarantee a certain number of pre-sales. I’ve heard the number 10,000 thrown around, which seems high to me, but you get the idea.
Lastly we get into hybrid publishing. This is relatively new as a concept, but it’s basically aggressively assisted self-publishing. A hybrid publishing house will keep a dedicated list of editors, artists, copy editors, producers, and all of the other staff that is necessary to produce a book on hand. The author will either self-fund these costs or offer a pre-sales event to generate enough revenue to pay for the production process. In this way, a self-made author can partner with a hybrid publisher to fund the book without any out-of-pocket costs. This is only part of the battle though, as there’s still the marketing angle. Simply producing a book and publishing it is one thing, but if you want anybody to read what you have written it must be marketed. So that is one downside to Harvard publishing, however the upside is that the author retains 100% of the rights to their work. So hybrid publishing can often be a bridge into other avenues of business.
Hopefully this has been at least somewhat interesting as they look inside of what I’m going through to try and get some work out there and published into the world. Working with magazines and journals is incredibly rewarding, and seeing something completed can be the lift that you really need to keep at it. I will continue to update you all with the things that I have learned and the progress that I am making, and I very much hope to end this series with a post about a book that has come to a bookstore near you. Thanks for reading, and as always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
P.S. The squirrel watches me cook breakfast every morning. Not sure where he got the donut though.