Richard Wright

author of strange, dark fictions

Journal

The Freelance Leap: Writing Short

In a little over four weeks I’ll be taking a year away from dayjobbery and seeing how close I can get to generating a full time freelance writing career. For the next few weeks I’ve the luxury of preparation time, trying to figure out how to make it work and putting some things in place that will pay off down the line (maybe). Then, at the end of September, I’ll take the leap, put all of this into practice, and see if I’m right about any of it. You can browse previous entries here.

Nightscapes FlatsNeat, huh? This is the cover flat for the paperback edition of Nightscapes, a new anthology from Nightscape Press due for release next week. The artist is new to me, a chap called Gerald Sieberling based in Nashville, but I’m liking his work. You met the publisher last year when they released World’s Collider, and so already know that their books are ‘neat stuff’. That they still want to play with me, and are closing this first volume in what they hope will be their signature anthology series with my story ‘Skins’, makes me very happy indeed. The story is about people trafficking and Scottish myth, and relevant keywords from the back cover description of the book that relate to the tale include ‘bitter loss’, ‘jaded love’, ‘obsession’, and ‘black market horrors’.

You can go and order the paperback and the ebook here, and I hope you do so. The book will be available at Amazon and others in short order, but when you buy direct from the publisher they get to keep more of the cash for themselves (instead of cutting a retailer in on the sale). If you like the look of the book and want to get your hands on ‘Skins’, please think about supporting them directly. They’ll appreciate it.

I’ve mentioned before, probably in this little series of freelancing blogs, that there are all sorts of benefits to selling short stories that have nothing to do with the amount you’re paid each time (though any pay day is a good pay day), and different writers value different things about the experience in different ways. Putting aside the main thing, which is the pleasure of telling stories and having them be read and enjoyed, I love how they work as little calling cards.

For most of the people who read the book, ‘Skins’ will be the first time they’ve ever sat down to hear what manner of story I might have to share. They might not have the faintest idea who I am yet, but at some point in the next couple of weeks they’ll reach my story and we’ll be introduced. If I catch their attention, if ‘Skins’ saddens and thrills them in equal measure, then the next time they see my name on a story they might decide it’s worth their while to bide with me some more.

Writers, especially those of us who publish independently, often fret about how to find out readers. How do we advertise? How much should we abuse social networks? What advertising should we buy? Where? Does advertising even work for books and stories? We’re always looking out for the new thing, the sure thing, the best ways to speculate to accumulate. It’s easy to forget that sometimes the old ways are best. Nightscape, lovely people that they are, are taking my writing and putting it in front of new readers, and they’re paying me for the pleasure. You don’t get more effective adverting than that. It’s why you should always be choosy about where you sell your short fiction. Give it away to people who aren’t going to make good use of it, and you’ve wasted your time and words. Try to place your stories lovingly and the rewards can be far greater than the cash payment received.

I’ve always been slow to write short stories. A lot of writers are that way. They started their careers with a flurry of short stories in an attempt to gain some attention, but when the novels start appearing the short stories often die away. The simple reason for that is that novels sell better, and for more money. Once you start writing and selling longer works, it’s difficult to justify stopping, especially when there are mouths to feed. My wife has often raised an eyebrow over the years, when I’ve told her how much this or that story has actually sold for. Given the amount of time I’ve spent writing them, and the endless rounds of submission and rejection before each finds a home, she’s had a point.

Now things have moved on. Every story I sell has the potential to be a signpost pointing the people who enjoy it towards my other stuff – advertising I get paid for. It’s motivated me to write short again, and I hope it does the same for other writers too. The short story has been long overdue a renaissance, and anthologies of fiction are a fabulous way for readers to sample several new writers in short order.

It’s good to have an honest excuse to indulge short fiction again.

This week:

  • Going great guns on the next novel – could be finished within a fortnight. Unless I do something to… jinx… it… Bugger.
  • This very lovely review appeared for Craven Place. Thank you Jess! I love the opening. “I’m rather in love with Craven Place.” I’ll take that.

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