The New Year For Unnamed Journal

Unnamed Journal has finished four volumes and is about to start its fifth. It’s gotten into a nice steady rhythm now. I enjoy the process of creating it. Short fiction and essays are always a challenge worth grappling with.

But it wouldn’t be UJ if we weren’t thinking about how we could improve it.  A couple of things have been under serious, two-beers-in discussion:

  1. Opening Up Submissions. We’ve been producing everything in-house so far, except for one or two outside-written pieces. We’re open to having a place for other people’s wierd fiction, driven snark, and long-form jokes.
  2. Charging for Subscriptions. There’s a point at which giving it away for free loses its luster. Producing a literary magazine and a podcast does take some work. So we’re looking at Patreon as a possible solution, as well as others.

I suspect that if we do one of these, we’ll probably do both, as they both kind of fulfill the need to grow UJ to the next level. But everything’s on the table at this point, including staying the current course of a quarterly free lit mag.

In the meantime, links to all our currently available issues is found on the UJ page on this blog.

Rejection is Progress

Every no gets you closer to yes.

This is part of the process of shifting through to find the best match. If your work is good, it will find a market.

These are things authors have learned to tell themselves. Not because they are true, but because they are hopeful, and hope is a necessity to keep someone going in the face of rejection. Successful authors need to survive repeated rejection. So whatever you have to tell yourself is fine.

The real possibility of real failure also exists. No doesn’t actually get you closer to yes. It’s not a map. Yes can occur on any submission, from the first to the hundredth, or not at all. And good work is not a guarantee of anything, because “good” is an ambiguous term. It means different things to different groups. It can denote true, beautiful, or useful (and no, they aren’t the same thing). Something can succeed in being one of these and fail in the other two. Or it can fail in all three.

My point is that art can fail, and that an artist that attaches himself permanently to failed art will fail in a more complete way.

You wrote a book. Good. Now write another.

The Novel Ain’t Dead. The Industry Has Just Changed.

That’s the upshot of this article at Quillette. While midlist authors are seeing their income shrink, the upper-crust is doing even better: the number of seven-figure advances has increased even as the number of five-figure ones have decreased.

What this means is that the publishing industry doesn’t want to invest in small potatoes anymore – they want profits. So be it. What this means is that authors who once populated the midlist – who got $10k advances and typically made another $20k from sales – are going to find themselves migrating to self-publishing, crowdfunding, and other means. And that means the level of class struggle and agita between self-published authors and trad-published ones are going to increase, even as both get better off.

Fasten your seatbelts.

(Hat tip: The Story’s Story)

On Tablo’s New Publishing Plans

Tablo is now moving into the publishing business, at least into the distribution side. Click here to check out the details of that. In essence, you pay $99 per year/ per book, to have your stuff published on iBooks, Amazon, Booktopia, Barnes & Noble, and the rest of the 10 largest ebook retailers. Tablo gives you an ISBN and everything. For $149 per year/ per book, you get that plus the remaining 10% or so of the online market, and digital libraries. For $299 per year/per book, you get paperback distribution to about $40,000 retailers.

That per book/per year seems somewhat daunting to me, and I’d really have to test it out and run some numbers before I could commit to it. But it would save time and trouble.

One of the things I like about Tablo is how responsive they are to their users. So when I ask about the details of their plans, I get immediate feedback. After asking for verification that the publishing plans are per year/per book, I share some thoughts vis-a-vis cost registration. Here’s the response I get:

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this Andrew! It is a different model to publishing independently, and for some authors this still may be the preferred path.

For us, the model we’ve tried to create is similar to the model of a blogging or website service, like SquareSpace or WordPress, where there are no servers, no domains, no DNS etc, and the owner can pay $8 per month or $100 per year to have a live and fully hosted website.

We hope that for authors, the value of reaching all of the world’s bookshops at once, without thinking about assets or ISBNs, and even having a paperback version available, is akin to hosting a blog without having to think about your own server or domains. In a scenario like this, the value of the service might outweigh the costs of publishing independently.

Worth considering.

How to Get an Agent, and How to Deal with Failure

With a tip of the hat to Larry Correia.

Step 1: Write Book.

Step 2: Pick Agent who, based on their past representation, will be interested in your book.

Step 3: Submit to Agent.

Step 3a: Get Rejected. Return to Step 2.

Step 3b: After several iterations of the 3a Loop, throw hands in air and self-publish or leave the book in the desk drawer, never to be read.

Step 4: Sign contract with Agent. You now Win at Life.

That’s pretty simple, right?

Of course it is. And like almost all simple things, it’s not really easy.

First, you have to write a book. Which is a time-consuming slog of ambition and drive, slaying self-doubt and inertia along the way. Stephen Pressfield’s The War of Art is your guide to that mess.

Then, you have figure out, based on The Writer’s Guide or some such other resource, what agents will want to see your un-requested submission. This is informed guesswork.

Then, you will knock your head into pieces trying to write a cover letter that indicates you to be a) a serious, professional sort of person, who happens to be b) the author of a book they will want to represent. This is harder than it looks.

You will be wrong about this. Most of the time. I wrote my first novel fifteen years ago. I submitted it. It was rejected. Looking back, I can see why it was rejected. It’s a bit all over the place, a bit Byzantine in plot, a bit loose in characterization. But I love it. I loved creating it. It’s gonna come out some day.

I wrote short pieces from the same universe (it’s my fantasy world I’ve alluded to earlier). They were also rejected. I despaired of all the rejection and gave up for a little while. Other things got in the way. I did self-publishing (My Amazon Author Page is pretty full actually). None of those got me the success I was looking for.

But I am committed. So I keep going. After I finish The Sword, I’m going to move on to the next book. And then the next, and then the next, until a) I drop dead and leave my work to the ages to judge, or b) people find value in what I’m doing (which is really just the same as a), when you thing about it).

So the process of getting an agent is the process of creating art is the process of accepting and internalizing the surety of failure. Failure is okay. Failure is normal. A book that doesn’t sell is better than no book at all, and only ruling-class gatekeeper trolls say otherwise.

Fail until you win.

Blog Book Bleg

As you may or may not know, I am not all that new to blogging. I’ve been doing it, off and on, since 2003. And yesterday I got the bug up my nose to collect my old dead Blogger blogs into some kind of dead tree format. Blogger has a partnership with an outfit called Blog2Print, which I spent an afternoon gradually reducing Revolutionary Nonsense to a three-volume set.

The editing software has limited functionality and is a chore to work with. Apparently it never occurred to these people that someone wouldn’t want any pictures at all on the covers of their book; although it’s claimed that “pictures are optional” there’s no way to remove the pictures from the covers. You can only replace them with other pictures.

At this point, I might just download the best posts to Microsoft Word and figure out how to do a Dead Tree post on Lulu or something.

Anyone have any suggestions for blog printing?