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Where am I? On the road of hard knocks

March 2, 2010

That’s probably the best way to describe how and when I have been published. I can stand as an example of what to do and what not to do when getting published. Though these lessons apply to aspiring writers, they will also show readers why they haven’t seen more of my stuff in print.

I have had short stories with Spectacular Speculations, Far Side of Midnight, Writer’s Bump (Vol. I) and SFH Dominion (out of England). I have done the old “self-published” route with my novella Crawl on Lulu.com. Now, I have the novella They Call the Wind Muryah and the anthologies Dark Tidings, Vol. I & Vol. II on Smashwords.

I was sending items out in many different directions to see who bit or nibbled at the bait. People had been after me for so long to get my fiction published that I think I wanted to placate them and not wait a year or two for a major publisher to put my books out.

Maybe that’s how I ended up at PublishAmerica and Mystic Moon Press.

Yeah, I had a contract offer from PA for Hunters. I almost took it, too, until I realized that I’d accidentally sent them my rough draft that was filled with original and rewritten text. It was unreadable and, yet, PA accepted it. I never returned the signed contract and they never missed me.

So, next up was Mystic Moon Press. Click on the above link for this sad story.

(For more on Mystic Moon Press, PA and other publishers, try the “Alerts for Writers” section put out by Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America)

Anyway, now on to my current situation.

For me, trying to get published is like Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers (the book, not the movie) where the cadets’ final passage from boot camp is to go naked out into the wilderness and survive without any help. Most gave up, some succeeded, some died, some needed rescue, and more than a few were never seen again.

It has finally dawned on me that I need to stop firing wildly and take aim at specific targets. So, I’m drawing beads on more thoroughly-researched presses, while sticking with a few steadier avenues like Smashwords and submitting short stories to Far Side of Midnight and Spectacular Speculations. It sounds a lot better than what I was doing before.

Currently, I am polishing Hunters again and I submitted Land of the Blind for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Slow Boat to China awaits a major overhaul and My Dear Mister Shane is like an orphan. With more specific aim now, I must make sure that my finished product is the best I can make it.

I am prepping a query for Leucrota Press. They’re another small press that specializes in science fiction and horror. I’ve done my research and they haven’t had any bad publicity. Yet. They haven’t appeared on the “Alerts for Writers” thus far. I plan to submit Land of the Blind first and then Hunters if all goes well.

I tell you. It’s enough to make me self-publish (meaning publishing it myself versus Smashwords or Lulu.com). Self-publishing worked for Starlene Stringer and the late E. Lynn Harris.

Ah, decisions, decisions.

What do you guys think I should do?

I’m open to suggestions. Otherwise, I’m liable to just get a few books printed and slip them onto the shelves of the local libraries with covers from other books.

Not that I’ve ever actually done that.

Well, time for me to go.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 2, 2010 7:36 am

    I think you should never give up and stay focused on one or two books right now. Some people can work all over the place, but if you aren’t one of them–or you want to try something different– then try Holly Lisle, One Pass Revision process (http://hollylisle.com/fm/Workshops/one-pass-revision.html)

    I think you’ve got talent, Greg, and you’ve got a great story to tell. I think fine tuning some small points will really make your work shine and then you should go the traditional route with your best work for a set period of time.

    If your dream is to get the books out as fast as possible AND produce the best work you can, then I suggest you hire an editor (one that specializes in what you feel the work needs – be it content, craft or a copy edit one) and set yourself a budget for building a reader base.

    My best advice is to not self-publish until you have a marketing plan in place and have a clear grasp on the amount of work it takes. My attempt is taking me 8 to 10 hours a day of work (some days I accomplish more than others in those hours!)

    And there ends my long winded advice 😉

    • March 2, 2010 10:14 am

      WOW, C.J., this is great advice, and I felt like you were talking to me too 😉

      My advice to you, Greg, is to also better promote yourself. I went to Smashwords and looked up your books, but not everyone will do that. So I suggest you link the titles to the books on their website for sale every time you mention them. Where are you guest blogging? Where have your books been reviewed by bloggers? These are also links we need to start adding here. When we fiction writers are first starting out, other writers are the most help to our careers. Who are you promoting and who is promoting you back. Which makes me realize I haven’t added you to my blog yet. Okay, I’m off to follow my own advice.

      • March 2, 2010 10:36 am

        Thanks Wendy! Glad to help. I was thinking about the links as well and think we should add them to our static Bio pages here as well as other places. I’ll go work on the new wider/longer banner as well to do the theme switch toady. BTW – can you email me off post about the CSS feed to export a WordPress blog to my website? I’m lost on the technical stuff – Rapidweaver is plug and play for people like me for a reason! Anything beyond that and I’m at the mercy of hiring someone.

    • March 2, 2010 12:15 pm

      Thanks. I was actually leaning towards sticking my books into the library inside the covers of other books.

      • March 2, 2010 1:08 pm

        Speaking of libraries, you could set up talks at your local branch on the plethora of information you know about the history of sci fi in books and movies as a way to promote your books. Our local library does stuff like that all the time. They even let the speaker sell their book(s). They may even let you put your books on their shelves with its own cover 😉

  2. Harley D. Palmer permalink*
    March 2, 2010 2:04 pm

    CJ and Wendy have some great advice for you Greg. I have to agree with them, especially the point that CJ made about focusing on just a few things at once. I am realizing that I can’t write 7 novels at the same time and have them turn out reasonably well. I need to tone it back and work on one or two at a time.

    I also agree with having an “editor” of a sort. I wish I could have one person that I could always count on to read and critique my work, but for some reason I can’t find that person. All the other blogs I follow (for other authors) are for YA or Erotic something. So I am doing a lot on my own.

    However, I will tell you that I would love to read your work anytime you need a fresh pair of eyes. I have thoroughly enjoyed having a sort of sneak peak into “Land of the Blind”. (When it’s published do I get a free autographed copy??? LOL)

    And speaking of promotion – would you mind if I put in my blog a little blurb about you and “Land of the Blind”? I want to start a weekly thing of interviewing authors and their unpublished/up-and-coming novels. So you can be the first! Just let me know if you want to participate and I’ll send you some questions for the interview and stuff. 🙂

    • March 2, 2010 7:33 pm

      Harley – who would say no to such an offer? That’s very kind of you and I think if Greg says no I’m going to have to beat him with the bloody stumps of his limbs… again… 😉

      Wendy – great idea on the libraries! Greg would draw a huge crowd!

  3. March 4, 2010 9:47 am

    Don’t give up, Greg. I’ve heard that the sci-fi genre is the toughest one to break into so while you wait impatiently for The Powers That Be to recognize your brilliance, keep working on your craft and producing more work. Maybe it’s the next book or the one after that that puts you on the map and then you’ll have all this great material in hand to publish as you keep writing.

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