I just signed the contract on this which will be the first story I’ve had published where I receive royalties! It’s supposedly coming in ebook and print format and contains my short story ‘Ghost Girl, Zombie Boy and the Count’. This was the second Halloween-themed story I had accepted this year so it wasn’t a bad October! ‘American Nightmare‘ is a 50′s-themed horror anthology from Kraken Press.
I recently had a near thing going with a small publisher who offered me a contract for a novel of mine. I was ecstatic until I discovered that they wanted me to front over £1000 to invest in the publication of it. Now this wasn’t some shoddy vanity press type of thing. Despite being a small publisher, they put out some quality stuff (some of which I have seen in Waterstones) and run a very smooth operation. They offer several levels of contracts, the highest levels require no financial investment from the author and unfortunately, as I am as yet unestablished in the field of historical fiction, my novel was offered one of the lower end deals, despite some in the company thinking its quality was worthy of a higher contract.
To me a grand seems a huge amount to hand over to a publisher that claims to be interested in my novel. Paperbacks sell at about £7, of which I would receive 10% with this deal, so 70p per book. Middling novels can sell around 1000 copies, and that’s doing pretty well for an unknown author. Even if I take into account ebook sales (of which I would receive 50%), it seems unlikely that I would get much of a return on my £1000+ investment. Financial concerns aside, there is the principle of the thing. I take a lot of pride in my work and paying somebody a grand to get it out there just doesn’t seem right.
Although it’s crushingly disappointing to turn down an honest-to-god contract, I have to get published on my own terms. And I’m taking many positive things away from the whole experience. For a start it was the perfect kick up the arse I needed to get networking. After many years of reluctance, I am now on Twitter and am trying to tweet regularly. I’ve made inroads into the genre via other blogs and planned a marketing strategy. I’ve also got a killer book trailer under construction. Most importantly, I’ve had my novel read by four people in the publishing industry who, although some had their criticisms, generally liked it and two had some very encouraging words about it. One even said that with a back list of similar titles I could make an impact as a good mid-list writer and that I should ‘please keep writing.’
I will never give up.
My recent piece of flash fiction called ‘Great Worms in the Temple of Uruk’ (published in Flash of Fiction from the Short Story Competition HQ) draws inspiration from perhaps the oldest surviving story we have in physical form. The Epic of Gilgamesh tells the story of King Gilgamesh of Uruk (now in modern-day Iraq), a fierce Mesopotamian ruler who lived in about 2500 BC. The legend survives in cuneiform inscribed stone tablets.
It portrays Gilgamesh as a debauched and tyrannical ruler. To distract him from oppressing his people, the gods create a man-beast called Enkidu who is his equal in strength and ferocity. Enkidu’s ravishment of the countryside prompts Gilgamesh to lure him into a trap using a temple harlot called Shamhat. After a ferocious fight that results in the doors to one of Uruk’s temples being destroyed, Enkidu and Gilgamesh recognize each other’s strength and become lifelong companions. Perhaps with the aim of repairing the temple doors, Gilgamesh and his new buddy head out to the great cedar forest where they defeat the terrible demi-god Humbaba…
The story goes on and involves many mythical monster slayings that could appear in any Conan story as well as a quest for eternal life in the form of a rare flower. It’s great sword and sorcery stuff and has been an inspiration to countless fantasy epics throughout the ages. I had great fun crafting a little flash fiction piece in the world of Gilgamesh and lament only that my time among the crumbling temples and slithering demi-gods of Mesopotamia was so short. Oh well, perhaps I will visit that world again one day…
The Short Story Competition HQ has just released an anthology of flash fiction covering a multitude of genres from international writers. My entry for the Fantasy category – Great Worms in the Temple of Uruk – is included. This is my first piece of non-horror fiction to be published so I’m pleased it got a look in. The anthology is available from Smashwords. Any other outlets like Amazon etc are yet to be confirmed.
Halloween is dead leaves drifting on the wind now, but the seasonal efforts of many writers are now available for Kindle etc in this anthology by Horror Novel Reviews. I’m delighted that my entry ‘The Bridge of Swords’ made it in and the whole lot can be read for a very reasonable price from Amazon.
Out now in ebook format is Dark Eclipse #6, the monthly e-magazine companion to Dark Moon Digest. It features my story ‘Envy Like Fire’; a tale of jealousy and love within a triumvirate of vampires.
Dark Eclipse #6 is available on Kindle from Amazon and soon, Nook from Barnes and Noble.
The four yearly anthologies from Spinetinglers are now available for Kindle. The 2010 collection features my story ‘The Tapping’ and the 2011 (featuring a brand new cover design) includes ‘The Girl and the Mist’. The 2011 collection should be coming out in hard cover and paperback in the next month or so. Click below for links to Amazon.com. All are also available from Amazon.co.uk.