Coming to terms with the powerful roles gatekeepers play in deciding which works of fiction get published and which get cast aside or remain on the so called slush pile, was rather daunting and a little demoralising. However, on the positive side, it was encouraging to hear about the tremendous publishing opportunities social media such as Kindle, on-line magazines and blogs currently offer writers.
I can safely say that I have found social media invaluable, not only for promoting my writing, but also for getting my work published.
My first published short story, ‘The Last Leg’, came out of an exercise I was given in one of Jacob Ross’s writing workshops. The instructions were to write a short story with a whole recipe running through it. A challenge, I thought at first, but I produced, ‘The Last Leg’.
This story fell under the genre of crime. I was even newer to the publishing world than I am now, so wasn’t quite sure where I could get it published. I left it sitting around for over a year, then took good advice and googled ‘crime stories’, whereupon I found the Short-Story.Me website. I submitted to them and hey presto, they said they would publish it. Chuffed? You bet I was. And what a boost it gave to my confidence as a writer.
I’m sure many emerging writers have similar tales to tell.
Thank you social media!
As writers we are always told by those who know about the publishing world that short stories don’t really sell. We are told that if we’re not a known author (i.e. have one or two published novels behind us) publishers will not be interested in taking a risk on a book of short stories from us. Even if they do, we shouldn’t expect to make any money from sales.
Sadly, making money from published short stories is still extremely unlikely, but if the main aim is to get readers reading your work, the money’s not too much of a problem.
It is fair to say that gatekeepers will always exist in one form or another in fiction publishing, but I think the most important gatekeepers are readers. They are the ones who really give the writer that big red tick and worth while recommendations.
Check out my article on the ‘Gatekeepers in Fiction Publishing’ event published in the New Black Magazine.