I’ve invited a number of people who have published in indie press and gone on to become professionals in the field to write about their experiences. Today’s post comes to us from Dave Luckett, who has a different journey to share.
I had only one short story published in the old Eidolon before I got published by Scholastic, who have been publishing me ever since. They had never heard of Eidolon. That Scholastic publication only happened because Lucy Sussex was editing a collection for them – it was because she knew me. So I first got commercially published via the same route, alas, that most authors do. It was because I knew somebody in commercial publication. I am as dissatisfied with that as anyone. I don’t think it should work that way, but it does.
It was Scholastic’s imprint Omnibus who published the Tenabran Trilogy, which took two Aurealises, and that made what name I’ve got. After that it wasn’t hard to get short stories for adults into (some) indie collections like those from your good self and ‘zines like ASIM and Oceans of the Mind.
But Omnibus publishes children’s and YA only. I can’t get long works for adults published at all. The only work for adults that I can get published is short fiction in small press. The commercial outfits publish hardly any short fiction, as you know. They’re utterly risk-averse, category-driven, only listen to each others’ sales figures and industry gossip, and are only interested in this week’s bottom line and the next Big Thing. On the other hand, the indie publishers don’t publish novels, generally, and they rely – perfectly legitimately, in their case – on the personal tastes of the editor and publisher.
But my output of short stories remains small and peripheral, and it doesn’t get a foot in the door with any other publishers. In my experience, indie-published short stories are invisible to mainstream publishers, commissioning editors, and agents. In fact, almost all short fiction is invisible to them, except the very small amount they publish themselves, and then only because the very act forges personal contacts between editor and author. The industry functions on these personal contacts.
I’m really glad that you seem to enjoy my work, and so apparently does Stephen Dedman. Others putting out indie collections, such as Bill Congreve or Russell Farr, don’t care for it. All I can do is write the best I can. I certainly don’t regard small press as any sort of career in the “earns money” sense, and regret that it doesn’t seem to be any sort of recommendation to a publisher who might be able to pay a living wage for regular output. That’s sad, and it’s wrong, but there it is.
Dave Luckett has written three junior novels for the Omnibus Ripper range: The Adventures of Addam; The Best Batsman in the World and The Last Eleven and two Shorts: Night Hunters and The Wizard and Me.
The first book in his Tenebran Trilogy, A Dark Winter was released to much acclaim in April 1998, and was shortlisted for the 1999 West Australian Premier’s Award. The second book in the Tenebran Trilogy, A Dark Journey was released in February 1999. A Dark Victory, book three in the trilogy, was released later that year.
Rhianna and the Wild Magic and Rhianna and the Dogs of Iron are among Dave’s recent Scholastic releases for children, and his 2010 book, Paladin, is a great time/world slip novel for younger teens.