Author Topic: Have Stories?  (Read 28363 times)

goatkeeper

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Reply #50 on: June 04, 2007, 03:43:34 PM
whew



Listener

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Reply #51 on: June 04, 2007, 03:51:21 PM
Kind of a slight tangent: There's certainly something to be said for feedback.  Probably one of the most satisfying experiences I've ever had as a writer was reading an unpublished short story to two of my best friends (who were definitely a slice of the target audience).  They're reaction to the story right then, right there is something I don't think I'll ever be able to top with that story.  I haven't been paid anything for it yet (I'm still trying to sell it to) but their reaction is the best payment I think I've ever received. 

You can get feedback kind of like that with publishing online.  Although I think it does help if you have an outlet like Escape Pod, Pseudopod, or 365 Tomorrows that's already got a fanbase (which will hopefully help build your own fanbase) as opposed to a newer, untested market. 

I think that may be why there are so many dead blogs laying around... no feedback, no comments, just the occasional trackback... it can be disheartening to a blogger.

The same with writers.

However good feedback is, though, it can be problematic when you're only getting it from your circle of friends/family.  They may be unwilling to tell you if something sucks.  That's an important part of the process, too: if something sucks, someone has to tell you how it sucks and what should be changed.  Otherwise, the writing will continue to suck.  IMO.

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DKT

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Reply #52 on: June 04, 2007, 05:12:40 PM
[However good feedback is, though, it can be problematic when you're only getting it from your circle of friends/family.  They may be unwilling to tell you if something sucks.  That's an important part of the process, too: if something sucks, someone has to tell you how it sucks and what should be changed.  Otherwise, the writing will continue to suck.  IMO.

Oh, without a doubt.  I'm not suggesting you just read something to friends and family for a good critique (unless those are the only people you ever plan on showing the story too).  You need to trust people to tell you if something doesn't work.  But I was talking more about feedback after the story is done than a WIP. 


Listener

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Reply #53 on: June 04, 2007, 07:50:13 PM
However good feedback is, though, it can be problematic when you're only getting it from your circle of friends/family.  They may be unwilling to tell you if something sucks.  That's an important part of the process, too: if something sucks, someone has to tell you how it sucks and what should be changed.  Otherwise, the writing will continue to suck.  IMO.

Oh, without a doubt.  I'm not suggesting you just read something to friends and family for a good critique (unless those are the only people you ever plan on showing the story too).  You need to trust people to tell you if something doesn't work.  But I was talking more about feedback after the story is done than a WIP. 

I knew what you meant, fear not.

I was part of a writing group for two months.  Then I moved to Atlanta.  I tried to start a new one here but I didn't have the time and I couldn't know if the people who wanted to join were any good.  That's not to say I'd discriminate against bad writers, but the group I was invited to had a bunch of established aspiring fiction writers who -- most of them -- I'd known from college even if I didn't know their writing.  I'm not so good with starting the group, but if I'm brought in, and then asked to take over, I don't mind that so much.

(They wouldn't have asked me to take over, btw.  Just saying.)

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

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BlairHippo

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Reply #54 on: June 04, 2007, 10:27:49 PM
I'm surprised not many folks from Escapepod seem interested in this opportunity.  Can I ask why? (honestly)

With so many writers out there with good ideas, don't writers want to have their pieces exposed to a steady growing audience?

The two primary tools I (and a lot of other writers) use for market-hunting are Ralan.com and Duotrope.com.  You're not listed on either one.

But even if you were ... okay, go to Ralan.com.  Click on the "Semi- & Pro Markets" link.  Think of this list as "Markets People Will Submit To Before Submitting Stories To Me."

Next, click on the "Paying Markets" link.  This is "MORE Markets People Will Submit To Before Submitting Stories To Me."

Finally, click on the "4theLuv Markets" link.  These markets would be your contemporaries, save that you're not actually listed there.  So this is "EVEN MORE Markets People Will Submit To Before Submitting Stories To Me."

So that's the first reason I'd say your slushpile is so lonely -- people won't submit to you if they don't know you exist.

But let's set that aside for now -- -I- know you exist, even if the EscapePod forums aren't typically the first place I go looking for new markets.  I've taken a look at your market, and I won't be submitting anything to you.  Here's why:

At first glance, the website (http://web.mac.com/normsherman/iWeb/Site/Podcast/Podcast.html) is all right.  It's no-frills, certainly, but I certainly don't see that as a BAD thing.  It's cleanly-organized and easy to use.  But then I take a closer look, and certain problems start to make themselves evident.

First, your submission guidelines.  If you'd like people to submit anything to you, you're going to need some submission guidelines.  This:

Quote
Welcome!  Here you’ll find flash fiction stories of an unusual nature narrated by Norm Sherman.  Short and fun.  Nuggets of happiness.
 
Nuggets.
 
Enjoy!
 
Send stories and such to
goatkeeper@hotmail.com

... does not represent adequate guidelines.

What's your definition of flash?  How many words?  Could you give us anything clearer than "of an unusual nature?"  What kind of file format do you prefer?  Anything?

If by the time I'm done reading a market's guidelines I'm not 95% sure whether a given story of mine has a fighting chance of being accepted, then the guidelines are inadequate.  By virtue of not existing, I'm afraid I have to file your guidelines under "inadequate."

Next, I note that you have comments set up for each story.  Of the 15 stories you have posted, 5 have a single comment.  The rest have none.  And your site counter indicates that just over 800 people have loaded this page.  The overall impression I take away is that few people are listening, and even fewer care.

Finally, there are the by-lines.  Of the 15 stories you have posted, 4 were written solely by you, and two more have you listed as co-author.  When 40% of a market's stories are by the market's editor, that's a pretty serious danger sign that this whole enterprise is just a vanity project.

So before I've listened to a single story, my opinion of your market is pretty negative, and there's nothing there to counteract it; I recognize none of the non-you authors that you've run so far, I've had no writing buddies tell me what a wonderful up-and-coming market you are, etc.  But just to be fair, I downloaded and listened to your five most recent stories.

#14, "Mouse," was all right but unremarkable.  And I liked the idea behind #11; I've never heard a story about hypno-pandas before.  Otherwise, it was a washout.  #11's execution left me unimpressed, and I flat-out disliked the other three stories, strongly.  (You almost had me with #12; I was so disappointed when I learned that the Killer Super-Animal Reality TV thing was just the intro and not the actual story.)  If you really want I can go into more detail about why they didn't work for me, but the short version is that based on these five episodes, the answer to the question "Are these stories I'd be proud to have one of mine associated with?" is a resounding "No."

If you're serious about improving this market, I advise you to:

1)  Get a real URL.  Is "drabblecast.com" taken?  How about "thedrabblecast.com"?  Or ".org"?  It not only makes you look more professional, it improves your word-of-mouth advertising.  Right now if I wanted to tell anybody about your podcast, I'd either have to email them the URL or tell them to look it up on Google.

2)  Set up some submission guidelines.  Make it clear what you do and do not want.

3)  Get yourself listed in Ralan.com and Duotrope.com.  With Ralan, you'll have to ping him and he'll ask you to link back to his site.  Do it.  I know a lot of other places (Duotrope included) use Ralan as the basis for their own listings, so that's an excellent first step.

4)  Pay your authors.  Yes, it ups the level of complexity to the enterprise and forces you to bring contracts into the mix.  Yes, it costs you more.  Do it anyway.  Even a token payment of $5/story gets you out of the "4theLuv" dregs and in the company of some well-regarded markets.  It will cost you no more than $25/month, and if that's too much to spend, then please reconsider whether you really want to be doing this.

5)  Beat the bushes.  Palimpsest is absolutely right; identify authors whose work you enjoy and hit them up for contributions.  Shoot, if you read something you think would be PERFECT for Drabblecast, ask if they'd be willing to sell you that story!  Writers are an egotistical lot by nature, and having an editor explicitly seek you out is validating as hell; I'll bet you get some good stories this way.

6)  Stop running your own work.  Seriously.  Just stop, right now, cold turkey.  It's indulgent and amateurish; once you've established your market you can run your own stuff every once in a while for special occasions, but 6 of your first 15 ... no.

(Or, ignore me entirely and come up with your own way of improving the quality of the fiction you run; I note that "Air Out My Shorts" suffers from several of the deficiencies above [no guidelines, no pay, not listed anywhere], but they seem to be pretty well-regarded.  Ping the folks behind that operation and ask how they got it done.)

Your market is not without redeeming qualities.  It looks like you've been posting one story a week for fifteen weeks now; that kind of consistency matters, a lot.  Your production quality is a little rough, but acceptable; listening to you on my way in to work, I didn't have to keep monkeying with the volume control to hear what was being said, and I have to think that's only going to get better as you gain more experience.

But I really think you have some work in front of you if you're serious about making it worth listening to.

Or worth submitting stories to.

Same thing, really.



BrandtPileggi

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Reply #55 on: June 05, 2007, 01:28:42 AM
Je-sus that was an awesome post. Thanks for all that quality info!



goatkeeper

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Reply #56 on: June 05, 2007, 04:22:38 AM
Good god blairhippo- thanks for taking the time to check out Drabblecast and for responding so thoroughly.  Seriously.  I will check out the websites you recommended and will definitely put up a submissions guideline on the page.  I did describe the guidelines in the first few episodes but then stopped talking about them.  I'm working on a real URL soon also.

In response to your other comments:

I started the Drabblecast as a way to encourage people to write- myself, friends, other writers.  The guidelines are described as "Anything fun, well written and under 2000 words."  The name "DRABBLEcast" doesn't exactly imply that I'm looking for Hugo nominees here.  Since flash fiction is relatively easy to pump out and the podcast is so open, I don't have too much of a problem getting submissions (notice I started this thread to see if any ESCAPEPODISH  writers specifically might want to sub- and some have.)  I sometimes have a problem with stuff that is too "normal" or poorly written to make it on and keeping it weekly and of quality can be tough.
I'm toying with the idea of not having work featured every week- maybe some time frame that makes it easier to have consistant good stories.  But then again, I got a lot of email and feedback from people saying they loved Black and White animals.  And the podcast is free and only 10-15 minutes long, not much of a commitment for any listener.  For something only a few months old and something I've been doing just for fun, it does have a decent amount of listeners (most don't visit the site much but download via itunes or others-  hence lack of activity- also I just put the comment option up.)  I expect the listener base to grow more as I get great feedback such as yours that lets me know how I can make it better. 

I just believe that there are every day people out there who can pump out a great, entertaining short story of 1-2K words or less (or even send in reprints), who don't care if I give them 5 bucks, who think it would simply be fun to have their story read and exposed to other people.  Those people are who I'm looking for. Those people tell their friends to check out the story they wrote being featured on a podcast this week.  Down the road, this may evolve into something where your suggestions will help me even more. 
For now, these are stories about robotic whales, aliens colonizing prehistoric earth, unicorns with back acne, demons, chupacabres and shitzhus that about around 100 people listen to every week just for fun.  I started this thread simply to see if anyone else wanted to join in the fun.

The Drabblecast also started as a way to market my music and cd -"Everybody's Got Nipples"
myspace.com/normsherman (real URL soon).  If I'm doing this for free I feel it's ok to drop mention of my tunes in the occasional intro. 



Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #57 on: June 25, 2007, 11:21:26 AM
Hi Norman,

Congratulations on your Ralan market listing!

If you have started paying a cent a word -- congratulations, I think that was a smart business decision. I clicked over to your website, though, and it still says that you're a non-paying (free) market. Perhaps an update is in order?



goatkeeper

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Reply #58 on: June 27, 2007, 04:38:14 AM
Yep- ralan was good advice and so was negotiating with authors- and yes, will be updating sub guidelines this week- thanks!

now just working on trying to get the word out... we've def got some great stories lined up for awhile.



Golgo13

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Reply #59 on: July 08, 2007, 05:06:54 AM
Oh I should have checked this post ages ago...

I've been clamoring for venues to try and get subs sent to in the hopes that I can get some of my work out there to the masses. For a fledgling writer like me, who has stories, but no avenues to send them to, I had no idea that there were sites like Ralan or Duotrope that can point me in the right direction.

I think part of the other problem is that it was hard to tell what outlets were "reputable" as opposed to ones that we might get burned on. There's nothing more frightening to a writer that's just starting out in the publishing world than getting hosed on the first attempt.

I'll take a look at Drabblecast and get a feel for what you're trying to put together, as I think the challenge of doing flash fiction is a worthwhile one. But in the meantime, I'm going to hold off on subs because 1.) I have no stories that fit your criteria, and 2.) I'm still trying to find some solid editors that might give me my first paid commissions for my stories.

Sorry if that seems selfish, but I don't think that I'm the first writer to skip the "4theluv" postings and try to jump into the deep end of the pool.



hautdesert

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Reply #60 on: July 09, 2007, 09:47:56 PM
2.) I'm still trying to find some solid editors that might give me my first paid commissions for my stories.

Sorry if that seems selfish, but I don't think that I'm the first writer to skip the "4theluv" postings and try to jump into the deep end of the pool.

Me, personally, I don't think it's selfish.  I think it's smart.   But then, I Have Ambitions, and so when I'm sending my stories out I want to know one thing--will lots of people read (or hear) my story?  The ability to pay is a pretty reliable sign that a publication has readers, and so I go to the paying markets first. In fact, I go to the highest paying markets first.  (when there's a tie, I pick the fastest response time.) There might be one or two non-paying markets that have a good reputation, and I would sub to them, but not first off.

I think the idea that writers will work hard on a piece and then not submit to a paying market is...odd.  If I want plain old "exposure" on the level most 4-the-luv markets will give me, I'll post on my blog.  If a friend were to ask me to whip something up, I might.  But a cry into the vast wilderness of the internet asking for stories but no money and some kind of undefined exposure?  Nuh uh.  Now, if I had no Ambitions, that likely wouldn't be a problem, because the writing would just be something fun I did in my spare time, but see, that's not what my writing is.  And if it was just spare time fun, why would I bother submitting it anywhere?  I'd just post it on my blog.

And, oddly, I came across this LJ post this morning, so the topic is already on my mind...



goatkeeper

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Reply #61 on: July 10, 2007, 01:33:18 PM

I'll take a look at Drabblecast and get a feel for what you're trying to put together, as I think the challenge of doing flash fiction is a worthwhile one. But in the meantime, I'm going to hold off on subs because 1.) I have no stories that fit your criteria, and 2.) I'm still trying to find some solid editors that might give me my first paid commissions for my stories.

Sorry if that seems selfish, but I don't think that I'm the first writer to skip the "4theluv" postings and try to jump into the deep end of the pool.

We've actually started paying authors as well.  Check out the new submission guidelines http://web.mac.com/normsherman/iWeb/Site/Submission%20Guidelines.html

I think one of the appeals of subbing to an audio publisher like us is that you can often sell the same work elsewhere- we just hold rights to our narration of the story- not the story itself.

Many other writers feel the same as you concerning the 4theluv on ralan.  Once we moved to the paying market section on ralan we've gotten somewhere between 2-4 subs a day rather than 2-4 a week.



BlairHippo

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Reply #62 on: July 10, 2007, 05:07:18 PM
I think one of the appeals of subbing to an audio publisher like us is that you can often sell the same work elsewhere- we just hold rights to our narration of the story- not the story itself.

Uhm, not sure what you mean by this.  It's rare for a market to purchase all rights to the story in perpetuity -- Cicada does, but I can't think of anybody else.  Most places just want first-publishing rights with an exclusivity window where you can't sell it to anybody else.

It's that "first-publishing" thing that's key.  Most places are going to consider publication in audio format as publication -- thus, if the story's been on Drabblecast (or Escape Pod or Air Out My Shorts or your blog or wherever) they'll only consider it if they consider reprints.

Many other writers feel the same as you concerning the 4theluv on ralan.  Once we moved to the paying market section on ralan we've gotten somewhere between 2-4 subs a day rather than 2-4 a week.

Excellent.  I think you'll be quite pleased with the improvement you see in the quality of those stories as well.  :)



goatkeeper

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Reply #63 on: July 13, 2007, 01:21:54 PM


Really?  I was under the impression that more publishers bought exclusive rights to work than that-
Why would publishers want/allow various print forms of a piece they just bought running around in competetive markets?

Thanks for the advise earlier by the way, we've followed most of it and are getting much better stories and hundreds more hits a week.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2007, 01:27:07 PM by goatkeeper »



hautdesert

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Reply #64 on: July 13, 2007, 01:43:38 PM

Really?  I was under the impression that more publishers bought exclusive rights to work than that-
Why would publishers want/allow various print forms of a piece they just bought running around in competetive markets?

Most editors don't take reprints.  Some do, of course.  But why would you want to rule out, say, a story you bought appearing in a Year's Best?  That would be good for you, as an editor, I'd think.  Why would the author want to rule out the story appearing in a themed anthology a few years down the line?  Or in a collection of that author's short fiction?

And if the first sale was to a paper magazine, once the next issue is out, the story isn't really in front of people anymore, and subsequent sales aren't really competing with it.  Online is slightly different, but I think online fiction is still kind of settling itself out right now.  Certainly the fact that, say, Ben Rosenbaum's "House Beyond Your Sky" is available free online at Strange Horizons didn't prevent its being included in Rich Horton's Year's Best.  Neither did the inclusion of Jack Skillingstead's "Life in the Preservation" in that same anthology prevent its being reprinted in the Hartwell & Cramer year's best, or, I think, the Dozois.  (I'm not certain if it's in the Dozois, my copy hasn't come yet, but I'm pretty sure it is.  There's some overlap between all three, in any event.)

There are a few magazines that do buy all rights, as previously noted, but there aren't many in genre that do.  In fact, if I ran across an SF or F publication that wanted all rights you can bet I wouldn't be subbing there.  Some places it doesn't matter--True Confessions buys all rights (or they did when I made my very first fiction sale ever to them years ago), but that doesn't matter, because you don't get a byline and besides that's a particular sort of market.

If you're really enjoying this podcast thing and intend to keep it up, I really recommend doing some research on things like contracts, standard practices, etc.  I'm not trying to be snarky--it's just that the more you know about how publishing generally works and the reasons for various practices, the better you'll be able to make choices so that your podcast will be as good as it can be.




goatkeeper

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Reply #65 on: July 13, 2007, 08:33:02 PM
Well I have done a good bit of research in order to draft the contract we send to authors and make sure we don't get ourselves into trouble.  I'm fortunate enough to have some mentor/teachers at school who are helping me along.  But if you have any helpful links to pass on I'd be much obliged also.

In my hunting around I have found that there are comparitively far fewer sources of "standard proceedures" for online publishing established and even fewer for audio broadcast of short stories.  I have still not found many editors that address audio narrations as true publishings that affect first serial rights and I haven't noticed a  standard proceedure on this- at least not an easily accessible one (although I'd love to have one pointed out to me).





bigtmac

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Reply #66 on: August 30, 2007, 07:37:18 PM
Im so glad I read this thread.

The first reason is that I think drablecast might be a wonderful thing to help get some of my first publishing creds, even if they dont give me writer points, the give me "encouragement points" and that matters a lot when your strugling to overcome all the diffuculties of improving your work to the level needed to make the big jump to professional writer.

Even more important in a way is the inspiration and information it gives me toward moving forward on a podcast myself. I had been wanting to start an escape pod style podcast for military themed short fiction of all kinds; sci fi, fantasy, contemporary, whatever. I had wondered how to go about getting something like that off the ground and this thread was both a gold mine of information ( thank you BlairHippo) as well as an inspiration ( You go goatkeeper ).

Hopefully you will be hearing something from me on drabblecast sometime soon and then perhaps I will eventually join the illustrious ranks of the podcasting elite.

" It may not be any consolation to you, but you have put a smile on my face."




goatkeeper

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Reply #67 on: September 14, 2007, 04:21:20 AM
BigT,
Thanks for the kind words.  I'd be happy to help, if I can, with any questions on setting up your gig.  There are more experienced sources than I, but just throwing that out there.  Hope to read one of your subs soon!
« Last Edit: September 14, 2007, 02:45:10 PM by goatkeeper »



IT_Spook

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Reply #68 on: October 02, 2007, 03:05:50 AM
I gotta say, this is a pretty thread and I've picked up a lot of good info. I've also been going "yep, I made that mistake" or "I've done that before."

I identify myself as a "hobby writer". I've been honing the craft for close to 20 years and do it more for the love of the fans rather than the money (of course, money is always nice). I've got a good collection built up and should be self-publishing my first novella (long story) soon to the tune of about 50 printings (I have 25 pre orders!). Most of all... I am happy.

About 7 years ago, I started wondering if I could get paid for my writing. Right off the bat, I made some of the "mistakes" that have been posted in this thread. Let me explain a few of them:

If I get published lots of places, it means I rock - Oh boy... when I read that line about submitting things to every nook and cranny without consideration to reputation, I felt like sinking down in my seat. I admit it: I did the same thing. Looking back down, I can see the problem that could pose if I ever wanted to be taken seriously. Listing some of these minor, less reputable places on a cover letter would be like telling someone that I have been published by on the wall in the men's bathroom at the bus station... or that I was an ugly girl desperate to go to the prom.

If I give it away for free, I'll be accepted more often - Again, not a bad idea, but I can see how an experienced editor would wonder why someone had so much published at "for the love sites". I probably would still do it, but I wouldn't list it unless it would help my rep. The "free stuff" could be a good forum to try out new material... much like a comedian working a small comedy club. It could also help build a fan base... if the site/publication has the kind of fans you want.

Why should I even try? That site/publication has authors way better than me! - This one still gets me and is probably one of the main reasons I procrastinate about sending something to the 'Pods. Probably explains why I chose not to be a professional writer. If you're going to be serious about living on your words, you can't aim low because good will and free sites don't pay the rent or feed you. You need faith in your work and if you sell yourself short, you're not doing yourself much good.

So, let's jump in Spook's wayback machine and go back 7 years. I was writing short stories and serials on a regular basis and had a pretty decent fan base. I started reading posts about getting paid for your writing, so I figured I take a shot at it. Right off the bat, I made a lot of the mistakes outlined in the post and got extremely frustrated. It took me a while to realize that I had lost focus of the goals of why I wrote in the first place. So, I sat down one night and forced myself to write out what goals I _seriously_ had for my writing. I came up with 4:

(1) I write for pleasure and relaxation; not for fame or fortune.
(2) I want to entertain people.
(3) I wanted to get a work into the Archives of Canada.
(4) Being paid for a story by a reputable market would be nice, but I could live without it.

Wow... After reading my goals, I could see why I had become frustrated with my "chase for fame and fortune". Once I saw what my goals were, I refocused my attempts and to target the right markets not only for my work, but for my goals as well.

I also looked at what I could do to achieve my goals. Goals 1 and 2 had pretty much been obtained, so I moved on to Goal 3. After a bit of research on how to get something into the Archives, I decided the best way that would suit my needs and style would be to self-publish a novella. I could have just done it under my own name, but I thought it would be fun to see how hard it would be to create a publishing company.

An hour later, "Thunderbird Press" was born, registered and I became a publisher/chief editor :).

Time passed and I began to discover more things about myself. Not only had I found the right pace and control over my writing, but I also found that I really enjoyed being a publisher/editor. I didn't so much as publish other people's work as become their editor and I found that just as rewarding as writing. Best yet, I even got paid a bit for it :). Not a lot of serious cash, but that wasn't my goal, so I really didn't mind.

There were still a lot of issues to overcome, but as the years passed, a lot of ideas and resources began to spring up that would help me achieve Goal #3. Thanks to Lulu.com and Podiobooks.com, I now had a way to deliver cost effective print-on-demand services or I had a reputable service to help market my book in audio form to a large audience. I can't forget to mention Escapepod.org because listening to the 'Pod not only motivated me to write, but gave me a little dream to chase that I might someday get on the Pod.

In the end, I'm a lot happier than I was 7 years ago and I found out a lot about myself along the way.

Bottom Line: If you don't know what your writing goals are, you better think about them. If you're a pro, free markets and goodwill don't put food on the table or pay the rent. If you're doing it just to build a fan base, maybe the free sites are right up your alley. If you're like me, maybe you try to skirt that thin line between the two. :)

Sorry if this post rambles, but I felt I had to chip in something to this really informative thread.

"You write novellas? Isn't that like the red-haried stepchild of novels?"


goatkeeper

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Reply #69 on: October 05, 2007, 05:25:18 AM
Thanks for the great post Spook.

Usually I end up killing threads somehow.  Here, somehow a very off topic yet informative developed.

Maybe I just did this one in :o