My first e-book, a short-read sci-fi story called “SCOUT”, has just been published on Amazon!
The decision to self-publish was something I arrived at after over a year of contemplating and having several of my short stories rejected by small publishers.
I shopped a total of four short stories to around 50 genre magazines, from sci-fi to horror, and not a single editor was interested.
Screw You Guys
Strangely enough, I wasn’t particularly discouraged by the rapid-fire rejection letters hitting my inbox.
I was an aspiring musician for the last twenty years, starting when I was 18, and being a self-produced indie act, I had already passed through the fire of scrutiny and rejection with my music. I put heart, soul, and countless hours into producing and releasing my own music, so my skin has been battle-hardened and toughened with scar-tissue.
As an emerging writer facing these little rejection letters from mostly small fry publications with shitty early-2000’s websites, I knew a few things going into the arena:
- If you’re competent in your writing and storytelling ability, and you have a half-way interesting idea to work with, rejection is usually not about your talent or skill. Ever listened to music or read published work where you wondered how the hell someone thought it was good enough to produce or publish? That’s my point. Art is so very subjective, and there are a host of other reasons besides your merit which can prevent you from getting the thumbs-up.
- Rejection often has more to do with the editor’s/publisher’s optics—they have built a brand, and with that brand comes an expectation from the reader’s end on what flavor of story they are likely to read in that publication. In other words, most of the time when you’re rejected it’s a matter of taste.
- Being the new writer on the block with a fresh set of eyes on the landscape, I notice a strong and highly vocal political stance from nearly every independent publisher I reached out to. How am I supposed to sell gritty, unflinching, dark fiction to editors who are extraordinarily careful not to offend any living creature on Earth? Sometimes, your writing’s themes just clash with the socio-political convictions of the publishers or editor.
- Most of these publications don’t even have a large base of casual readers. Instead, you’ll see that the majority of people talking about or even aware of a given publication are other authors. But hey, authors are readers, too. I’m just saying that casual readers (of which there are legion) aren’t necessarily following obscure genre compilations published by some junior college’s pretentious English undergrads.
With all that said, I spent a year shopping this particular story, “SCOUT”, to many, many small magazines/publishers (and a couple of big ones like Clarke’s and Asimov’s.)
All of them thought the writing was good, but declined because of the story’s scenes of intense violence and the fact that it paints technology in a negative light—what else should you expect from a yarn about a machine engineered for astronomical body counts on the battlefield?
Like I mentioned before, it really wasn’t about my ability as a writer or storyteller, it was more about the optics and the groove established by their brand.
Self-publishing so far has been really easy and a lot of fun.
I really enjoyed the entire process, as I’ve always had a punk-rock attitude towards DIYing my creative projects (I’ve released several albums of music over the years this way, where I wrote, recorded, engineered, and released all of my music myself.)
I even designed the cover for SCOUT myself, which many publishing gurus frown upon, but I like how it turned out.
From the research I’ve been doing, I’m not sure that a traditional publishing deal would even be that beneficial to any but the <1% of authors who have penned some sort of breakout phenomenon. While I wouldn’t turn my nose up at a conversation about traditional publishing in the future, for now I’m happy to walk the indie road and see what lies ahead.
Any authors out there care to share their own experiences with self-publishing? Leave me a comment below and let’s start a conversation!
Check out “SCOUT” on Amazon by clicking here. It’s $0.99 for the Kindle edition and free for Kindle Unlimited Users.