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Trying to Publish: Navigating new waters

Hello everyone. Sorry for the lack of attention I’ve been paying to the blog of late. Has anyone noticed?

don_t_panic_buttonI have a good excuse. I was working diligently on a short story before a submission deadline passed. Being new to this whole writing thing, I’ve been learning quite a bit about the process of submitting my works. There is such a range of publications to send to that it can get fairly overwhelming just finding a potential home for a story. Does it meet the word or page limits? Is the story any good? Does the story, itself, fit within the vision of the journal’s editors?

This last one in particular is fairly subjective. The best way to ascertain whether or not the story will mesh with the journal under consideration is to read what they published in the past. Unfortunately, that often requires subscribing to determine if the journal is appropriate. But at $40 or more each, that makes for a significant burden for a burgeoning writer trying to decided between multiple publications. Fortunately, some journals provide, for free, a sampling of stories online from their archived issues. These seem to be enough to get a feeling for what editors are after.

Another factor was, at least this time around, word limits which drastically narrowed my options. Working through the draft of this story, it ballooned from 7,200 words (the upper limit for many journals) to 9,062. Suffice it say there were only five journals that would consider a story so long.

Those five were soon whittled down to two after reading through sample archives. Then there were the reading periods. A number of journals only accepted new stories between September and May. After a few days – okay a couple of weeks – of worthless drivel spewing through the keyboard, there was only one journal with a deadline I was able to make. It went out yesterday.

Whichever decision the editors make about my story, there are some other options. Amazon.com’s Kindle Singles is one. As it turns out Amazon has created a spot for works that do not easily fit into the format of traditional magazines or journals. The editors of Kindle Singles call it a place for “Compelling Ideas Expressed at their Nature Length“. They are particular, not accepting everyone who submits but those who are chosen enjoy the benefits of editorial advice from publishing professionals and widespread promotion of their works.

Even if the story’s fate is not destined for the regular routes to publication or through Amazon’s select Singles, a writer can always publish independently on Amazon, itself. This was a new discovery and has proven to be quite effective for many writers, as it circumvents the traditional avenues. Amazon has latched onto the expanding niche of self-publishing with the creation of free online software that anyone can use to format their works for print or ebooks, like the Kindle. They are then made available to Amazon readers to purchase. Authors receive 70% of the price. The whole thing is surprisingly extensive and appears easy to use. For any of you on the fence about the potential of self-publishing consider this, in 2011 self-publishing represented 1% of the total business of the publishing industry. So far, this year (2013) five of the ten bestselling ebooks (including the top 2 spots) were self-published. Six of the bestselling 25 ebooks, or 24%, were self-published.

Trying to gain a handhold on all that’s involved in getting published – not to mention the actual act of writing a coherent, enticing story worthy of readers’ attention – is a task that ranks just a touch above daunting. The avenues to publication are expanding but that expansion is in a direction that is placing more control into the authors’ hands. This could well be one of the most advantageous times to chase that dream of becoming a writer, to finally sit down and finish that Great American Novel or anything else readers just might want. It’s time to find your voice and run with it.

Some other readings:

Amazon Broadens Its Terrain

How My Self-Published Book ‘Wool’ Became A Hot Movie Property

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