Self Publish a Short Story – Should I?

During the course of this MA, I’ve written a few short stories. And there’s a serious emphasis on ‘few’, there.

However, as of yet, I haven’t written one that is contemporary. My tutor said both were well written, good stories and enjoyable to read, just they weren’t modern. This was quite a frustration.

I enjoyed writing both stories, which is rare for me with short pieces. I also liked what they did and would love to get them out there. But I agree with her: they’re not contemporary. One feels like it was written around 1900 and the other is set in the 1700s on a pirate ship, with a narrative voice to match.

Now, I own more than one pirate novel from the 21st century and I know they exist, but there simply isn’t a market to send off a standalone short story of that nature.

Thus, I’m contemplating the possibility of self publishing it on Amazon. Mainly because I want to get it out there and because it’d be a fun and educational experience. Here’s the issues I’m seeing:

  1. As much as there’s no market for this in the traditional publishing world, I’m unsure if there’s a place for it in the self publishing world.
  2. Tying in with that, I’ve no idea how to get views on it. It’s all well and good getting it out there, but then what?
  3. In order to fit with the class prompt, the story is only 2,000 words. A very small amount, which means I either have to significantly beef it up or put it in an anthology. I’m sure I could bulk it up to 3k-4k because I cut bits to fit the class’s requirements, but I doubt I could push it far beyond 5k. That’d still be pretty small for a standalone.
  4. Leading on from that, if I went ahead and self published it I wouldn’t want to put it up for free. Multiple reasons for this… a) I’m a student and can’t deny the fact that I need money. b) If I were to put time into trying to get readers for it, I’d at least like to make something back for the efforts [what can I say? I’m honest!] c) If I’m putting it up for free I might as well send it off for free and take a buttload of rejections, building my thick skin for future ventures.

So to summarise: I’ve a story I want people to read but I can’t help wanting it to have more meaning than “Here, look at this story I wrote.” I value it, and so it deserves a value.

3-12-Done

The editing continues in what seems to be a never ending game.

Of my 27 chapters, 12 are complete. Totally complete. Finito. Huzzah!

Sadly, this means that 15 are not…

I have 3 chapters that need a final run, which is just about cleaning up the writing and should be relatively quick. They’re quite long chapters though, so will take a while all the same.

Then I’ve 12 chapters that need various changes, big and small. Well, they’re all small. Little details here. Small added paragraphs there. But, for some parts, I need to do some research. So a lot of it will come down to how fast I can find the specific information I need.

And in other news of progress, the island the characters live on FINALLY has a name, after 5 months with the book. Similarly, the characters FINALLY have a name for their kind and the book FINALLY has a new title that doesn’t conflict with anything in the market or coming to the market (as far as I’m aware). It’s previous working title, Homecoming, is also the name of a book which came out yesterday. How disheartening that was!

Between college and general life, my schedule is quite time pressed, but I’ll find a way to get this stuff done regardless. I had a tooth extracted yesterday (which gave a lot of resistance), so I couldn’t do much yesterday or today. Busy tomorrow too, but Friday evening and Sunday will hopefully be some serious crunch time.

Keep an eye on the bookshelves, folks. ;)

The Final Countdown

Cheesy title aside, I’m gearing up for the final stages of editing my novel. Exciting times! During the week I had multiple meetings with some of my tutors in college and the general consensus was that I should start sending it out, either now or within the next week or two.

After discussion with one tutor, who is looking through the novel closely with me, we’ve agreed that it could do with a final bit of refinement. I could send it out now, but might as well make it that teeny tiny bit better to better my chances.

With that, I broke what I need to do into steps/phases. Conveniently, it worked out at exactly 10:

  1. Give the final 3 chapters a quick look over, which will get workshopped in class on Monday. (Completed today)
  2. Give chapters 17 & 18 a quick look over, which will be given to him for some feedback as they are the only ‘tricky’ chapters remaining that I have doubts over.
  3. Edit chapter 13, the final unedited chapter.
  4. Final edit of chapters 8, 10, 11 & 12.
  5. Final edit of chapters 1, 2 & 3.
  6. Final edit of chapters 4, 5, 6 & 7.
  7. Final edit of chapters 13, 14, 15 & 16.
  8. Final edit of chapters 19, 20, 21, 22 & 23.
  9. Final edit of chapters 24, 25, 26 & 27.
  10. Final edit of chapters 17 & 18.

And voila! I’ll be done after that.

I’ve already got the first step done and I hope to have the next three finished today, too. The final edits will be quick enough as I know exactly what I’m looking for and for the most part I won’t be taking too much out.

I have, at most, three scenes to add in. And when I say scenes, I mean small paragraphs.

Then it’ll be all done and I’ll get a reader or two to read it whole, just to test it and make sure I don’t miss anything. But it’ll be heading out into the big bad world in March. I never thought I’d get quite this far with it at such an early stage, so it’s a very exciting time. It’s a shame I have actual college assignments to do for the course and classes to attend, otherwise it’d be done by now!

Now back to work I go…

Look at me, the Busy Bee!

And thus ends another long Monday of my MA.

Today we had yet another guest speaker who was as insightful and helpful as he was generous! A very witty man too. I’d love to work with Declan Meade at some point in my writing career, a very easy going and honest speaker. It was a nice break from our usual guest speakers too, who up until now have been limited to authors.

Before that, I had a tedious class looking at The Great Gatsby for the fourth time; a short story class in which I became almost positive that I have no intention of becoming a short storyist; a poetry class which was as entertaining and enlightening as ever, but so late in the day that I was half asleep and dazed.

After a long bus ride, a filling dinner and what was sure to be an inescapable sofa, I dragged my sorry ass upstairs and polished off two more chapters of my novel!

I’m making brilliant progress with help from the writer in residence, Chris Binchy, and in the past few weeks I’ve learned even more ways to edit and refine my work. It’s bringing much more shape to the novel and best of all, it’s building my confidence like a snowball. Each week I come away raring to go and although I don’t get to work on it often, I make those days count.

There are only three chapters left to clean up and they’re all easy ones to do, just long. I say that, yet two of them are the most problematic ones in the whole novel. But that’s precisely why they’re easy to clean up: I might end up rewriting them entirely, so I don’t have to pay that much attention to them until I get an outside perspective on them.

Considering I’ve another ten weeks at least until the end of this semester, I’m flying ahead of the pack. I have about four more weeks after this one until our two week break and it’s my ambitious goal to have this wrapped up by then, which means I can use those two weeks to plot the second book more thoroughly (and knowing me, start an obscene plan to finish the first draft in that break, too!).

And I’m even keeping on top of my hopes for the year in other fields. I’m going to the dentist tomorrow, having gone last week for some fillings. I’ll hopefully have it all done and dusted around that two week break.

Short Story vs Short Fiction

Today I wrote my second short piece of fiction, all thanks to the short story module in my MA.

The reason I call it a short piece and not a short story is because I’m not entirely sure if the two pieces I’ve done have actually counted as stories. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s lots of things that be constituted as a story and when it comes to writing, anything goes. Still, these are first drafts and I’d be hesitant to call either a fully fledged story, even though they have start-middle-end.

Nonetheless, there’s something refreshing about sitting down and writing a story in a day. I couldn’t settle on an idea or even come up with one I was enthused about. It took several hours and eventually I got one and went with it. It took longer to get the idea than it did to write. And while this can be true with novels, the difference is startling.

I’m writing my current novel at what could be determined as a fast pace and I’m currently starting my fourth hour with it. This story took about two hours to write.

Now, what’ll be interesting is when I go to edit them. Then I’ll see how long it actually takes me to write a short story. It’s something I’m looking forward to and while I still don’t feel comfortable or skillful writing the stories, it’s certainly a nice change of pace.

I intend to start some new writing projects soon enough, once I have this novel edited that little bit extra that it needs, so having short stories as a possibility is pretty cool.

In other news, I started working on new poems outside of my poetry module in college. I’m starting to get very creative and open minded with my writing.

Getting There

I’m writing this post as a break before I go back to doing more editing. At the moment, I’ve edited 7 chapters today and I’m about to do the 8th. Whether I do the 9th one or not will depend on energy levels afterwards because it’s a fairly long chapter.

A lot of these chapters were a lot longer than I remembered because during the second draft I combined smaller chapters into bigger chapters. Still, if i get the 8th and 9th done I’ll have edited a little over 70 pages today. Not too shabby!

It’s been a long but enjoyable day and I’m continuously seeing new ways that I could change and alter the novel, that may or may not improve it. This is great because I have options and depending on my readers’ feedback, I might need the options.

Won’t be editing much over the next few days. Tomorrow I’m going into college to talk with one of my tutors about where to go from here, as well as some other course related things. Then I’m meeting my girlfriend and friend in town for a short while. Thursday will be back into town to see my girlfriend and then football training in the evening, leaving me suitably tired. Then Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be focused on college work (and a football match on Saturday), so editing may or may not happen at all.

With that in mind, I’ll definitely try and push to get the 9th one done tonight. That way all I’ll have left to do is the nuisance chapters in the middle. I’ll probably edit them out of order, doing shorter ones first because I’m lazy like that. One is about 1,500 words long… I’ll be seeing him very shortly methinks!

Still Learning This Editing Game

Last week I thumped out the first nine chapters of my novel in an energetic and determined day of editing. I was ruthless and efficient and it resulted in nine chapters I’m very happy with.

I posted about that success here and then planned to have the rest done in the proceeding days.

A week later, I’ve made no progress. Except, really, I have.

I still only have nine chapters edited and no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t get past the 10th one. There were many blocks in my way but at first I thought it was simply exhaustion, as I have now returned to college and I’ve been with this novel for so long that it pains my eyes. I need the distance. But I need to finish the draft first – I know that for a fact.

Still, the 10th chapter wasn’t happening.

I had my notes and my direction. I knew exactly what needed to happen and how it needed to happen. Yet… nothing.

After another long and insightful day, I’ve learned even more about writing in many various ways, from craft to reading to the business side of things. But most importantly, I’ve figured out what to do.

I’ve broken the novel into three sections:

  1. The nine chapters I’ve edited
  2. The next nine chapters, which I’m struggling with and have the most changes/fixes needed
  3. The final nine chapters, which is the paciest part of the story and only needs tightening, no major changes

I had no intention for it to break up into three sets of nine, but it was interesting and amusing to see that it did. This also gives me high hopes for getting the third section done quickly. As I’ve said above, it’s the easiest section to edit of the three. It’s also the shortest. Should be a cinch!

In truth, I’m expecting to have those nine finished by the end of tomorrow.

Then I’ll have 18 of my 27 chapters finished, that’s 66% of the book! Now THAT is a huge motivator and makes it feel a lot less daunting. All I have to do is fix the links, knowing the start and end work, and that will make it ten times easier to approach.

It’s funny how the editing process differs from the first draft. I’ve jumped past the middle while writing first drafts before, but this resulted in chaos and a cluttered, unorganised plot. In editing, jumping past the middle will actually make it more structured and coherent. There’s a serious bonus to having an entire plot laid out before your eyes! There’s less fear of screwing it up.

Thus, my editing woes and “I hate his novel and I’m wasting my life with it” feelings have disappeared and I once again love my novel and being a writer and blah blah blah… writing is an endless roller coaster. There’s a strange thrill to driving yourself insane.