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Daniel Russell's Blog Tour Stop

Hello folks,

We end November with a visit from Mr. Daniel Russell. Just have to wait a bit, though. The poor bloke froze solid, trudging here in nothing but a thong, a wifebeater, and a hat filled with corks. Canadian rescue workers found him clutching a can of Molson near the New Brunswick border. After they thawed him out, I sent a few satyrs to fetch him and bring him over to the forest swiftly. We want him to return to his dear Sherie in one piece when this tour is over!

Ah, there's a knock at the door now, and the beer and crumpets await. Let's welcome Daniel Russell to our treehouse of the strange.

P-P-P-Pick up a Publisher

I’ve often compared the publishing industry to the movie and music industries, as the chances of making it big in either are slim. You’re up against an incredible amount of competition and the market is full of conmen, small time crooks and wannabes.

Certainly, there’s less risk when trying to sell a short story than a full length book, and I feel this is the training ground for any potential novelists. Most of the risks with finding a publisher are the same, but considering the time taken to write a short story compared to a novel… If I was going to get stitched up by a publisher, I know which I would prefer it to be over.

Here’s some general rules I consider when looking at a new publisher. These are from my experience only, and no rules are set in stone.

Look at the quality of the publisher’s last few publications.

Staff members change, and budgets can go up and down. Check out the last few books or magazines from a publisher to gauge how they’re working in the here and now. The first few releases might have been amazing...but what about the last six months?

Who else is on board?

In the past, people have recommended markets to me, and when I have looked into them a little deeper, I’ve seen bad writers in their table of contents. This is nothing personal against those writers, but if their writing is of an appalling standard (and I mean spelling, basic grammar, syntax, etc, not plot and characterisation, which may come down to a matter of taste) and a publisher accepts this standard, then they’re not for me. On the other hand, if you see some writers in there that you admire, it’s another incentive to get in in the same boat.

How much output is going on?

Some writers like a publisher that releases a ton of books, all the time. I disagree that this is a positive thing. If a publisher is releasing an anthology every couple of weeks, then I have to question the quality. For things to be done right, time needs to be spent (and the main casualty here is promotion, but we’ll come to that later). It takes a few minutes to cobble together a POD book through Lulu, etc, and the result shows. I prefer a publisher to release things slowly but regularly, treating the body of work with pride.

But again, there must be balance. Having release dates come and go with nothing to show for it not only pisses off the writer, but also the readers that might be waiting on that book. Pissing off the reader hurts everybody.

Thankfully, experienced publishers tend to know how much time and energy are required for a quality product.

Money, money, money!

Now, money isn’t everything. We all have different thresholds when it comes to the minimum we will sell our work for. I’m not going to go into this in detail, as I want to concentrate on the sharks.

In my opinion, if someone is publishing your work, not paying you, not giving you contributor copies, and then selling the publication for a profit…that’s not being an editor, that’s being a conman.

Imagine this scenario. Something I simply call the writing con.

I put a call out for submissions, and accept the first twenty stories I receive. I don’t even have to read them. I’m afraid I can’t pay or provide contributor copies at this time. I then put a POD book together, slap on a cover and a high profit margin (say $10 over production costs) and release it. Who will buy this unedited, amateurish piece of shit? The featured authors, probably. I’ve just made $200 for doing very little.

If you have to PAY to see YOUR OWN WORK…you’re being ripped off!

Editorial experience is everything.

What makes an editor? I think that courses and qualifications do, as well as years of experience. A respected and published writer (and I mean over time. Just because some guy printed your story on his blog doesn’t mean you’re a respected and published writer) could probably do a decent job too.

Research the editor. Any editor worth his or her salt will have a history and/or writing credits of their own.

This isn’t like being a doctor or a minister. You don’t need an official piece of paper to confirm you’re a ‘proper editor and stuff’. In this day and age anyone can wake up and say ‘I think I’m going to put together an ezine. Hey! I’m the editor!’

I have seen some atrocious pieces of work from editors, and have rejected quite a few. Spelling mistakes, bad grammar, repetitive structure, etc… It turns my stomach to think that these people, as editors, are advising other authors how to write!

Feel free to enquire about an editor’s credentials. If they’re running an online publication, take a look at the quality. Otherwise, who’s more foolish? The fool? Or the fool who follows the fool?

Penchant for promotion?

Publishing is a business. After having a publication accepted and produced, you’re in a partnership with the publisher to sell a product. Promotional is the responsibility of both writer and publisher, and unless both play an active part, it’s going to be hard for a book to be a success.

If you’re in a certain genre--and if you’re reading this, I presume horror floats your boat--then it’s advisable to know the players in the publishing game. If a publisher has been around for years, yet you haven’t heard of them, their books or their writers before, then something’s a miss with that publisher’s promotion.

And, as I mentioned earlier, if the publisher is churning out book after book every week, how much time will be spent with your book in the limelight? A week?
So there you have it. No publisher is perfect (we’re only human, after all) but if you see the warning signs…then stay clear!

Bring on the comments to say how wrong/general/patronising I’m being! Like I said, these are the things that I consider for myself.

*  *  *

Daniel I. Russell was born near Wigan in 1980 and has soiled various anthologies, magazines and ezines since 2004. 2010 sees Daniel on the cover of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #43, and the release of novel Samhane (Stygian Publications) and novella Come Into Darkness (Skullvines Press) with editions released through Europe by German publisher Voodoo Press. He is a member of the Australian Horror Writers' Association and the associate editor for the Necrotic Tissue print magazine. Daniel lives in Western Australia with his horror-poet partner and three children.

Daniel's new release, Samhane, is already bringing in great reviews from places like Shroud. You can click on the cover above to purchase a copy, or surf into Stygian Publication's Bookstore
here to purchase a copy.

Now, I must help the satyr's harness themselves to the sled, so  Mr. Russell gets to his next destination on time. Have a great November 30, folks!

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