Saturday, November 26, 2011

Elective Surgery

I'm learning some tricks about publishing--lessons which are different in the small press/short fiction market and the mass commercial market.

1. Editors and readers of smart short fiction mags differ from the general reading public. Several reviews of my short fiction collections have brought this to my attention. Most recently, a reviewer in the UK wrote: " I particularly enjoy short stories that offer a final twist. I don't recall any of this collection having what I would regard as a decent ending" of Violent Ends. Ouch. Anyone in the UK want to counter that with some mild words of praise? I'll give you a cookie...

Anyway, final twists? Good luck getting a story with a "twist" ending published in most mags.

2. Commercial readers, by and large, don't give a sh*t about how beautiful your prose is. In fact, some will simply regard creative word-play as "typos" and snark about it.

I've published a few pieces under pseudonyms. No, I won't tell you what they are, yet, because they aren't in my genre. Let's just say they aren't my best work. Trust me. What I will tell you is that they are outselling In the Memory House, a book on which I worked for half the year. Gives a guy pause...

3. Cover art matters to everyone. I've given Black Medicine Thunder a Facelift and cover art change:

From this:

To this:

I think I like. You?

13 comments:

Milo James Fowler said...

I like -- mucho. Now to go unearth those Polson pseudonyms...

Mary Rajotte said...

Heh - that's exactly what I thought Milo!

I think the appeal of being able to be more experimental as a self-publisher is one of its appeals.

It's interesting what you said about creative word-play. In a few stories that I had someone beta-read, they said that my flowery prose only distracted them from the story.

And I agree - the new cover is fantastic! I love how his face is partially obscured but you see enough of it to be intrigued.

Aaron Polson said...

Thanks Milo & Mary.

I'm enjoying the experiment... for now. The "artist" in me cringes at times. (But he's a pretentious schmuck.)

K.C. Shaw said...

I like both covers, although I must say I always like a cover that can pull off a bigass buffalo. :)

Most readers really are all about plot and characters. I've noticed in Amazon and Goodreads reviews that they'll forgive horrible writing if they're entertained. But editors and other writers evaluate differently. It makes it hard to please both editors and readers.

Kristi DeMeester said...

As a reader, I'm looking for nothing more than to be entertained. As a teacher, I take time to revel in the prose, marvel over how the diction conveys mood, get all twitterpated at turns of phrase or particularly apt uses of figurative language. But yeah, most readers want STORY, which doesn't exactly jive with the aesthetic qualities editors desire. Yet another reason for self publishing, perhaps? :)

Bobbie Metevier said...

Actually, I like both covers. But the first one makes me think of a western.

I don't have as much experience as you, but I hope number 2 isn't true. I love nice prose. :)

Barry Napier said...

WTF? How do you have time for a pen name when you have this kind of output? Sheeeeesh, Polson! Anyway, I do like the new cover, but the minimalist in me really digs that buffalo.

Cate Gardner said...

I love twist in the tale stories, but you're right, it's almost impossible to sell them to a small press market.

And this post is a reminder I need to read part III and IV of your latest Sons of Chaos story. I've been very lapse for which I apologise.

Danielle Ferries said...

Oh, yes. It's quite menacing.

Aaron Polson said...

Oh Cate - no apologies necessary. (Although Mr. Reaver is tapping his foot. You wouldn't want to anger Mr. Reaver.)

Danielle - I'm all about the menace.

Tyhitia Green said...

I like the new cover way better, Aaron. It grabs my attention more.

J.A. Beard said...

I like the new cover.

Katey said...

You are absolutely right, of course.

And the new cover is AMAZING.