Here’s the dirty secret of the publishing world: Most editors and agents would rather have their private parts bitten by a rabid rattlesnake than accept a short story collection.
At least, that’s what a well-known author once told me when I mentioned my love of short stories. The author was trying to be helpful by steering me onto a useful fiction path, i.e., that of writing full-length novels. That’s where the readers are, he said, and publishers follow the readers. The simple truth is short story collections rarely sell.
Hence his memorable rattlesnake imagery.
Unfortunately, since that conversation I’ve flung myself full force into crotch-biting rattlesnake land. I’ve also had a good bit of success, publishing my stories in well-known magazines and books like Interzone, Analog, Intergalactic Medicine Show and Year’s Best SF, along with receiving a number of honors including being nominated for the Nebula Award. Last December Interzone even devoted a special issue to my fiction.
But despite this success, I’ve had no success enticing a publisher to accept a collection of my stories. So I finally decided to self-publish my collection as an ebook.
Take that, you rattlesnake-fearing freaks!
My collection is titled Never Never Stories and contains 13 previously published stories along with one all-new tale. If you’ve ever wondered about SciFi Strange, those stories are here. If you’ve ever been frustrated because you couldn’t track down my stories, be frustrated no more. If you ever wanted to download almost 100,000 words of fiction by a quirky SF writer from Alabama, it’s your lucky day.
Among the stories in this collection are “The Ships Like Clouds, Risen by Their Rain,” where spaceships pass through the sky like endless clouds; “Into the Depths of Illuminated Seas,” about a woman whose skin reveals the names of sailors fated to die at sea; and “When Thorns Are The Tips Of Trees,” which won the Interzone Readers’ Poll and features a virus that causes people who touch each other to turn into crystalline trees. The collection also contains a brand-new introduction and an original essay on archeology and fantasy.
Yes, an essay on archeology and fantasy. I threw that in merely to confound the rattlesnake-fearing folk out there.
Maybe publishers are right and there’s no market for a short story collection by a writer who has yet to publish his first novel. Or maybe there are still readers who love top-notch short fiction. If you’re one of these people, I hope you’ll check out my collection.
And I promise–no rattlesnakes will be handed out with the stories.