Interview

Interview: Publishing a collection (part 2 of 3)

(Krista Ball continues her three-part interview with me on my experiences in publishing my two collections and working with small presses. Part 2 is below or you can also read it on Krista's blog. Part 1 is here.)

Question: Did you go the agent route? Why or why not.

For a collection? Nope. No need to and no advantage in doing so. Since I wasn't targeting the big NYC houses, an agent wouldn't have done me any good. I could research the small presses as well as they could, and could submit to those directly myself. Even if I had foolishly tried to target the big publishers, an agent wouldn't have been interested in trying to market a collection. They know collections don't sell, and a collection would get an incredibly small advance compared to a novel, even a first novel. So from an agent's point of view, that translates into a lot of work with no chance of success and for very little pay even if they could sell it. From my point of view, an agent was not going to do anything for me with a small press that I couldn't do better myself.

Question: What are the top 3 best things about a small press?

Well, for the two presses I worked with, I could list more than three. But most of my points would come down to retaining an involvement and degree of control over your book. With both collections, I had input on who should write the introduction, the stories to include, the order of their appearance, editing and copy-editing, promotion, etc..

Interview: Publishing a collection (part 1 of 3)

Fellow author Krista D. Ball interviewed me recently on my experiences with selling my two collections and with working with small genre presses for both of the books. The discussion went longer than we expected so Krista is posting the interview in three parts on her blog. I've posted part 1 below, or you can check out Publishing a Short Story Collection (part 1) on Krista's blog as well.

Krista's first question: In Chimerascope, most of the stories were at least nominated for Aurora Awards and one was a winner. With a strong list of credits like that, why did you choose to go with a small Canadian press like ChiZine?

True, the stories in Chimerascope have a lot of award credentials. "Scream Angel" won the Aurora, while another nine of the sixteen stories were Aurora finalists. "By Her Hand, She Draws You Down" was also a Best New Horror selection, and several more received honourable mentions in the Year's Best Fantasy & Horror. I could talk similar numbers for my first collection, Impossibilia, which had another Aurora winner ("Spirit Dance") and an Aurora finalist in its three-novelette line-up.

But if I pick up any collection, I'd expect to see award credits for the stories. A collection is supposed to represent an author's best work. But unfortunately, regardless of awards, a "big" publisher will simply not be interested in publishing a collection, unless you are a Name (which I'm not). The strategy for how an author should market a collection changed from when I started writing to when I was ready to market Impossibilia in 2008. And it's changed again since I published Chimerascope just last year, thanks to eBooks and indie publishing options.

Podcast interview up

Friend and fellow writer, John Mierau, recently interviewed me via Skype for another of his continuing series of podcast interviews with writers. We chatted about a bunch of writerly topics, including short stories, ebooks, the state of NYC publishing, indie publishing options for writers these days, and more. You can check out the podcast on John's site if you're interested.

Tags:

Krista D. Ball interviews me about short fiction

Krista D. Ball interviews me on her site today about writing and marketing short fiction, including the following:

  • Is the short form your favourite to write, or did you just fall into that?
  • How does an author choose when to do a collection?
  • As a reader, what do you look for in short fiction?
  • Do the works of others influence where your ideas take you?
  • What advice would you give an unpublished writer trying to break into short stories?
  • What is your opinion on unpaid or very low paying markets? Do you have a firm rule (“I never work for under 2 cents a word”) or do you play it by ear for each market and/or piece?

Read the interview here.

Blog Talk Radio interview now available

Fellow writers Susan Wingate and Joshua Miller recently interviewed me on their "Between the Lines" show on Blog Talk Radio about Chimerascope, short fiction, ebooks, foreign markets, and more. You can listen to the archived podcast of the interview here. My interview starts about 9.5 minutes into the show.

Tags:

Blog Talk Radio interview today!

A little short notice, but I'm being interviewed today by writers Susan Wingate and Joshua Graham on Blog Talk Radio. Hope that you can tune in!

Tags:

A "Pick Six" interview with me at Heidi Ruby Miller's blog

Writer Heidi Ruby Miller recently invited me to take part in her recurring "Pick Six" interview series on her blog. Heidi has a fun and unusual approach to these interviews (which is not surprising, since Heidi's background also seems fun and unusual, including a stint at archaelogy, working at both a Frank Lloyd Wright house and Disney World, and an appearance on Who Wants to be a Millionaire). Anyway, for the Pick Six interviews, she gives the author a list of 15 questions and asks them to pick any six to answer. Here was my list: 1. Which of your characters is your favorite? 2. Tell me about your travels. 3. Coffee, tea, or milk? 4. What else can you do besides write? 5. Who are you reading right now? 6. Pop culture or academia? 7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote? 8. Where do you find your inspirations to write? 9. Food you could eat everyday. 10. Are you into sports or other physical activities? 11. What kind of music speaks to you? 12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride? 13. Celebrity crush. 14. Who are the biggest influences on your work? 15. Do you still watch cartoons? Can you guess which ones I went for? You can check out the entire interview below or on Heidi's site. Here's the full interview:

Tags:

Blood and Vegetables interview: Spirit in the Night

Claire Horsnell at Blood and Vegetables ("Horror lit with a side of vegetables") recently interviewed me about my Springsteen stories, small presses in general and ChiZine publication in particular, the By Her Hand movie, Chimerascope and the CBC bookies, and other writing projects. The text of her interview is below.


Although author Douglas Smith is adamant that his own stories aren’t written with political motives, the tales in his first collection, Chimerascope, frequently envision a future of corporate totalitarianism, in which everyday people are at the mercy of forces they can’t control and are faced with the prospect of sacrifice and compromise in order to survive. It’s a theme that also runs through the work of one of Smith’s inspirations, Bruce Springsteen—and Smith has written a number of stories with titles inspired by Springsteen’s work.

“Springsteen is an astounding storyteller,” says Smith. “His strongest songs are ballads, stories told through real characters, everyday people struggling with whatever life has thrown at them. And there is generally such an attitude of defiance and hope despite the odds against them. So many of his songs just speak to me of the bigger stories behind the ones that he just gets to hint at in just a few lines.”

Tags:

Interview at the TORONTOIST

Claire Horsnell interviewed me for the Torontoist website a while back, and the interview is up on the site now. The interview is a wide-ranging one, covering early influences, favourite writers, use of myth in fiction, my recently completed first novel, dystopian futures, corporate power, Avatar, the "By Her Hand..." movie, and, of course, Springsteen. And Claire does a great job of making me sound way smarter than I am.

Here's an excerpt:

"Most science-fiction, fantasy, and horror fans can point to an early discovery period during which they came to their genre, but for prolific Toronto writer Douglas Smith, author of the recent short story collection Chimerascope, it seems fitting that he had not one, but two significant exploratory phases for his field. 'When I was eight, a friend introduced me to Robert A. Heinlein’s young-adult SF novels,' Smith recalls. 'They were essentially rocket and ray-gun books aimed at young boys. I devoured all of those, but then stopped reading the genre. Then in Grade 11, I had to do a paper in English comparing the works of multiple authors. Amazingly, the teacher actually included a group consisting of Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Ray Bradbury, which, of course, was the group I picked. That assignment got me back into reading SF and fantasy.'

Read the full interview on the Torontoist site here.

Subscribe to RSS - Interview