I am crowd-funding a collection of short stories. As I’m sure many of you have found out, short story collections are not looked upon favourably by agents or publishers in the UK. This is not the case in the US, Asia or even as close as Ireland. A handful of UK companies do consider collections but to be honest you have to either be a best-selling author already or have won a major short story prize to get past the slush pile, even then you’ll probably have to have a novel ready to go. My first book, Starlings, was a daisy chain collection of inter-linked stories. It was published by a tiny but gutsy indie called Revenge Ink. I didn’t have an agent then because no-one I applied to represented short stories, “if you wanted to get back in touch when you have written a novel, we would be delighted to represent you.” Does this sound familiar to anyone? I still haven’t got an agent and with this second book, In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes, I didn’t even try to get one. This collection is themed around fame and celebrity culture but there’s no way I can pretend it is a novel; each story is individual. I half-heartedly sent it off to a few US companies until somebody suggested I try the innovative crowd-funding publisher Unbound.
Since the company was established in 2010, Unbound has gone from strength to strength. Their catalogue includes books by Jonathan Meades, Terry Jones, Kate Mosse and a Booker Prize listee (Paul Kingsnorth with The Wake). The company promo declares that, “authors get to write the books they want to write and readers get to read real books, that in a crowded, celebrity obsessed market place might never see the light of day.” This sounded very appealing to me. I sent my submission off and heard that it was successful after about 3 weeks. Crowd-funding is a fast-paced business. Unbound wanted me to upload a promo, a cover, biography, extract and synopsis within 24 hours in order to go live with the project immediately. You typically get 90 days to raise around £3,000 in pledges. It’s a hard slog of marketing, press releases, events, blog posts, radio interviews and local TV. If you do reach your target Unbound allocate you an editor and then your book gets the same treatment as it would from any major publisher. There are lots of levels of pledge from digital copies to launch tickets to manuscript assessments.
I am partially doing this to prove that, contrary to what most UK publishers and agents think, short stories are popular and deserve more consideration. If you would like to see more short story collections published you could start by pledging to this one.
Brighton’s Latest TV made a short film about the project which you can view by clicking here Fifteen Minutes of Fame? No Thanks!
7 thoughts on “I’m Trying To Prove Short Stories Are Popular”
What a fantastic idea. I believe Unbound are great and the future of publishing. You have my pledge.
Good luck with that. Sure, There are outlets for short stories but the Irish ones, like the Munster Literature Centre, The Stinging Fly or, even The Irish Times, tend to be cliqueish. I’ve had a few short stories published but mostly in monthly magazines that rarely get past their third issue. The funniest rejection letter I got, and I have plenty of those and like most writers, carry them around like badges of distinction, came from a New Zealand literary magazine who expressed outrage at the ‘stage Oirishness’ of my short story, https://dermotthayes.com/?s=Donkey+Race+in+Lixnaw, Donkey Race in Lixnaw. So, I published my own collection of short stories and continue to write them, as a literary genre in their own right.
I write short fictional and have been successful in a number of competitions. The problem seems to lie with the reading public. Once a year I force a collection on a book group I belong to. Many of then are avid and eclectic readers, but feel no shame in decliaring that they hate short stories…but why? They either believe all short stories have an obvious twist in the tale or they mourn them ending and not being a novel. Short fiction is a wonderful place for the writer to experiment, the reader to be exposed to a miriad of tales, tones and ideas. If our book devoted reading public would buy them publishers would publish them. I push short story collections on readers at every opportunity, after all we don’t always have the time to read a full length novel. The book group be tucking into Patricia Dunker Seven Tales of Sex and Death, which should make for an interesting discussion!
Or, you could try Postcard from a Pigeon and Other Stories, https://www.amazon.com/Postcard-Pigeon-Other-Stories-Dermott-ebook/dp/B007CK9LY2
Pingback: May Round-Up III | ShortStops
I couldn’t find a publisher for my 40 israel short stories so I send the collection free online to anyone interested. You or they should send me their email if interested.
Pingback: Why I’m an indie author | A Writer's Convenient Truth