Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Guardian: Tech helps short stories make a comeback

When making pitches to editors and agents, short story writers are often asked two question:

1. Why?

2. Do you have a novel?

My answers are usually these:

1. Because

2. Yes, I have several unpublished novels but right now I am writing stories so why don't you publish them, eh?

We short-form writers have plenty of venues for our work. Most are small magazines or literary magazines attached to colleges and universities. They usually pay in copies or in a subscription or in small amounts of what's known to novelists as "cash."

So, when we see good news regarding short stories, we latch on to it like a Tea-Partier onto a dubious factoid.

Here's part of a story from London's The Guardian:

Technology has enabled literary magazines to solve the two problems holding them back: print and distribution costs, and marketing. The Internet solved the first and social networking is fixing the second.


These days, the process of "deep reading" – that is, entering into a trance-like state and becoming mentally and emotionally consumed in another world – often seems like a huge effort, especially when the cheap thrill of Twitter or a blog is just a tap away. However, people are starting to suspect that the Internet connives against us. It sells us the lie that it's better to click or flick in idle spare time than it is to read a book. But after half an hour – after you've exhausted your regular websites and blogs, and everyone on Twitter and Facebook is in bed – you get the same feeling as you do from eating chocolate all day.

Could we be in a place now where technology has brought us full circle? Where that which took us away from stories is now set to bring us back to them?

"The short story is an essential art form again," says [author and blogger] Nikesh Shukla.
Many writers are now selling their stories separately at places such as Shortlist Press and .

Read the full story here:

I, for one, am happy about this changing state of affairs. I published one story collection in book form and have been contemplating self-publishing the next one. I have published many stories in small mags, although none of them are strictly online versions. Most print mags keep your stories for 3-6 months and it can be up to a year before your story appears.

I've been blogging since 2005, and started my web site a decade ago. But neither has led to a publishing bonanza. I've posted snippets of stories on the web site and I blog regularly about prog politics and Wyoming and writing and mental health and assorted other issues. Perhaps I'm flitting around too much from topic to topic. But what the heck -- it's my time and my blog so I'll write what I want.

I'll be spending the next couple weeks exploring online publishers of short stories. Stay tuned for future reports....

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