Over the course of ten years of schooling I would manage to write a short story or two. These are the things that Creative Writing classes encouraged. The ones I managed to finish and that I liked enough, I kept. After getting some good feedback from the film scripts I had written and helped turn into films, I thought that maybe I should submit some of these stories to publishers.
I started researching how to submit stories to the various magazines out there that took unsolicited submissions. I had to learn what the term “unsolicited” meant. I had to learn what “formatting” was. There were all these other little “rules” and “guidelines” I had to go by. I was quickly getting discouraged by the process. I fought through the urge to give up and managed to submit stories to several magazines.
After a few rejection letters or just not hearing anything for months, I gave up. I didn’t have the fortitude for this process. One editor stated that she liked my story but it was too esoteric to print. She was right. Another editor really tore into my piece and gave what I’ve come to know as “constructive criticism”. It was constructive and critical, but I didn’t want to hear what either of them had to say.
I found this place online called I-Proclaim Press. They allowed authors to send in a manuscript and would publish it on demand. They took a certain fee for the publishing, paper costs, printing cost, etc. and you got the rest. I really didn’t care what the deal was. I just wanted to see my stories in a book format. I somehow managed to get a manuscript together with my best stories and one essay. I chose a stock image from their selections for my cover. I crossed my fingers and sent it in. In a few weeks they said my book was ready to order and I bought about twenty of them at the discounted author price.
The result was underwhelming. Drawing in all the stories from various places made the formatting a mess and I wasn’t as word processing savvy as I am today. I was always a substance over style type of guy so I let it slide off my back like water on a duck. The words are what matter right? Everyone will understand that, right? The cover didn’t bother me at the time. Today, it is quite laughable. I still really like some of the stories, including the “esoteric” one, but a couple of them make me wince now that I see them with a more mature, critical eye. The end result, the book only sold to family, friends, and fools. Does anyone know what this word called “marketing” is? Sigh!
My local comic book store owner used to run comic book conventions at a hotel. He would invite creators to sign books at tables and chat with customers. He graciously allowed me to have a table one time to sell my book along with DVDs of my films. I got to talking with an editor for Airship 27 Productions, an outfit that published books based on 1930s style pulp fiction. He didn’t read my book, but he saw that I had the ability to complete stories and the drive to put them together. He was looking for writers and invited me to submit a story for a Secret Agent X anthology.
I was so thrilled! If my little self publishing venture accomplished anything, it got my foot in the door to something a little bigger. Watch out world! I had some writing to do…