I've been somewhat lax about keeping up with my blog entries, except for a few minor posts. My only excuse is that I've been busy preparing manuscripts for publication, but I am largely caught up with that, so I should be able to post more regularly.

In this post I would like to say a bit more about myself, but also to explain my plans for my writing.

First off, I'm a writer. That may sound patronizing, but I've been writing for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is writing stories in first grade. I used to write my own non-fiction reference "books" (individual pages in a report cover); I even did my own artwork. However, I started writing seriously, for publication, around about age 20.

Now, 35 years later, I've decided to try self-publishing, in part based on the advice of a number of authors and editors I know.

My reasons are too numerous for one post, but primarily, I'm getting a bit fed up with the traditional approach.

I've been writing and submitting for 35 years. You would think that, in all that time, I would have been professionally published at least once, but I haven't. I truly do not understand why. Yes, some unkind colleagues on the HWA discussion board had once suggested "that should tell you something". Another said, "Enough said." Their implication was that I was a hack, and I should stop submitting and wasting the valuable time of the editors that I subject to my dreck.

Pardon me if I take that assessment with a very large grain of salt.

These were the same people who claimed there was only one way to write successfully; that adverbs and said-bookisms were the hallmarks of fanboy wannabe amateurs; that someone who sells 3000 words at 5 cents a word is a professional, but someone who sells 300,000 words at 4 cents a word is not; that editors "talk to one another", and if you caused trouble they would tell each other about it (implying that your career would be ruined)....

And so on. It reminds me of the kind of bullying and intimidation women writers report receiving from their male colleagues. I may by an Old White Male, but that grants me no immunity from professional and personal attacks from other writers with prejudicial axes to grind. So, at the risk of sounding condescending, I know how they feel.

The best I can come up with is that I started too late. By that I mean, I read and hear about writers who sold their first stories when they were 17, or who found an editor willing to take a chance on a story rejected by others, even though it wasn't as polished as it should be, but they all seem to take place "before my time". Then there are the tales of editors recommending to the writer specific editors of other markets he could submit to, but they also seemed to have stopped doing that just before I started submitting.

Not to mention that editors pretty much stopped giving advice in their rejection letters at about that time as well.

Whatever the reason, the traditional approach has not worked for me. So, I can either give up and just write for myself, and post my stories on a personal website, or I can try self-publishing.

(In fact, I HAD given up. Something else that HWA members had told me was that no true professional writer would ever consider self-publishing, unless he was a "Big Name", in which case he could break any rule he wants. Only amateur fanboy wannabe hacks with no talent would self-publish. At that time they may have been right, and I bought into that fiction, but just this year I learned that it was no longer true.)

That doesn't mean I won't still try to get published in print. For the past six years I have submitted two stories a year to Sword & Sorceress, and I will probably continue that, hoping one day one will finally be accepted. And just recently I submitted a horror story to an anthology edited to Ellen Datlow, even though I have a better chance of being zapped by an errant comet from out of the Oort Cloud than getting in.

Don't get me wrong: I really believe my stories were/are good enough to be published in S&S or Ms. Datlow's anthology; I wouldn't have submitted them if I didn't. But confidence is ultimately useless; it's the editor's opinion that counts in the end.

As such, for the time being, I will be concentrating on self-publishing ebooks, and see where that leads me.

Continued in Part 2
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Published on June 14, 2013 13:15 • 97 views • Tags: ellen-datlow, horror-writers-association, hwa, self-publishing, smashwords, sword-sorceress, writing

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Songs of the Seanchaí

Kevin L. O'Brien
Musings on my stories, the background of my stories, writing, and the world in general.
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