Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Monkey

That’s the name of a story that just sold to Daily Science Fiction — one of the pieces I mentioned submitting in my last blog entry. Which means less than a week between submission and acceptance. Woo hoo!

Apparently it’s a good thing that I added “getting my stories out on the market again” to my list of goals. I haven’t sold a short story for months now, but neither have I been writing or submitting much short fiction, as evidenced by the backlog accumulated that I mentioned in my last post. After selling my novel Yseult / Flamme und Harfe to Random House Germany, I thought my future was in novels, so that’s what I concentrated on, neglecting stories.

Wrong.

My German publisher rejected the novel they requested I write on spec. I won’t go into all the mistakes I made at that point in my writing career; but one of the things I realized is that I cannot allow myself to concentrate so much on a novel project to the extent that I totally neglect short fiction. Stories don’t make a lot of money, but they can be written in a week or three (depending on the length and the amount of research involved); they don’t require the same investment in time and emotional commitment; they can be sent out and accepted (or rejected) in a week.

Besides, my batting average with short fiction is way higher than with novels. I’ve only sold one novel of the four I’ve sent out onto the market. (We will not go into the novels I never finished … also a lot more than the short stories I never finished …) Short fiction: my database tells me I’ve sold 46 short stories, and I have a total of 24 either “ready to send” or “on the market” (not including those I don’t consider ready for submission). I have five stories marked as “trunked” in my database.

Another thing to consider, however, is that in the brave new world of ebooks, I might be able to do something with those rejected novels, whereas short stories, both singles and collections, are notoriously poor sellers in ebook format.

Nonetheless, there is something in me that enjoys those story acceptances so much that I have to figure out a way to balance work on novels and short fiction. I have to learn to allow myself to take breaks from whichever project seems most pressing — or relearn. That used to be the way I worked when writing a novel. If I was stuck or bored, I would take a break to write short fiction. But then the pressure started feeling like what I have when I’m working on a translation project. I couldn’t take breaks for any extraneous monkeys.

But now I’m allowing the monkeys to come back. I hope.

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6 thoughts on “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Monkey”

  1. I think you’re spot on about short stories not doing well in e-book format. I have gotten a few and didn’t realize they were novellas and was so bummed Short stories are such a tease!

    Good work this week! That’s very rewarding to get published so quickly. I’m sure your novels are just as good, just harder to get a foot in the door. Have a wonderful rest of the week.

    1. Thanks, Heather! I think the trick with short stories in ebook format is to clearly mark them as such, although I’ve heard Amazon has sometimes come down on people for that (although I wouldn’t know why!)

  2. Congrats on the sale, maybe work on short fiction between novel drafts. I’m hoping to start subbing poetry regular by the end of the year. Best of luck fr the rest of the week.

  3. Congrats on the sale! Don’t worry about the novel. You’ll write what you write and you’ll sell what you sell. Just keep it up and you’ll succeed, as you’ve already proven 😉

    1. Thanks for the encouraging words, Ryan! I guess the farther we get in our writing careers, the farther away success always seems to be. 🙂

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