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!