Everyone knows there’s been a rise in small presses and self-published authors. With today’s technology, the publishing process is easier. But getting the book noticed is another story.
There are myriad online campaigns, collaborations, and social networks that cater to authors looking to connect with an audience. The Magic Appreciation Tour is one of them. Focusing on fantasy with magical elements (rather than, say vampiric), the Magic Appreciation Tour’s goal is to “help you find new books to read and learn about the authors who wrote them.”
This week I spoke with writer William English, who writes fantasy short stories (with a splash of horror). Even though some of his characters are young, he considers the material fiction for adults.
It helps that I just got a new blog. I would recommend you make sure your blog has a following first before signing up. I didn’t when I signed up so I couldn’t take full advantage of the tour this time around.
Why not *laughs*? No I haven’t always loved them. When I was younger I found them boring, mostly because English teachers would shove the most depressing and tedious ones they could find down my throats. I didn’t start reading and enjoying them until college when I picked up Neil Gaiman’s ‘Smoke and Mirrors,’ I was hooked after that.
As far as writing them goes; when I started out I only wanted to write novels and only novels. But I would start working on a novel, and then I would come to a point where I looked over what I had written and realize, rather dramatically, “It sucks” and set it aside. Short stories, I found, were a great way to hone my skills as a writer, because if I work with a smaller canvas I could analyze it, fix it accordingly and then apply the lessons I learned in the process apply them to bigger projects. But to make a long story short: I just discovered that I liked writing them, so I kept at it.
Who are some of your favorite short story writers? Who would you recommend to those interested in reading more good short stories?
I have a lot, but some of my favorites include William Faulkner, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury (I could read him all day), Cordwainer Smith and some Japanese writers like Haruki Murakami and Ryusouke Akutagawa. I would recommend the ones I named as well.
I’ve only read the first four, I’ll have to check out the others, especially the Japanese writers. I need to expand my horizons.
Do you write in other forms as well?
I write some poetry and I want to get back to writing novels too. I also want to try writing a screenplay, graphic novels and video games at some point too.
I love this line from the description of your book: “… a land where Dragons fly and the devil only wants to talk.” What would the devil talk about?
For what its worth: I always pictured him as a very petulant, whiny person with too much power and an inflated ego. So maybe he would talk about how much he wants people to stop asking him when his reign is gonna start? To be perfectly honest, I didn’t put much thought into the story the devil is in. It still baffles me why every one I show it too loves it so much.
Sometimes the ones that flow out effortlessly are our best. And it seems to us that shouldn’t be the case because writing should be hard work!
Your stories are an interesting mix of contemporary and fantasy (with a touch of horror) – how would you describe them?
I always think of my work as fantasy. To me, all fiction is fantasy, regardless of what elements are used.
How do your stories come to you? Where do you start or is it different every time?
Sometimes it starts with an idea, a dream, a character and then sometimes, more often than I would like, it’s just a random thought that won’t stop bugging me. As for where I start, I often try write a skeletal plot outline and then let my imagination fill in the blank spots when I start writing proper. Other times I just start typing or writing long hand and before I know whats happening I have a story.
What made you decide to self-publish? For those thinking of doing the same, what are the pros and cons?
I was too impatient to be published [the traditional way]. I had been sending stories out to magazine publications (like Weird Tales or the now defunct Realms of Fantasy) for years and was going nowhere fast. My mother and my Aunt suggested that I publish on the Kindle or some other device. I resisted the idea for a while. Then, finally, I gave in and put ‘Walking With Summer Dreams’ together and published it on Lulu.com and The Kindle.
I was glad that this new technology had given us another outlet for unpublished writers to get their voice out there and bypass the traditional routes that are time consuming. But I quickly discovered that the self-published route was filled with its own blocks. Namely advertising yourself so people can find your book yourself.
Sure, self-publishing sites like Lulu.com have advertising options but they are very expensive (the cheapest I found was $700). Its even harder if you want to print your book.
What’s one important thing you learned during the self-publishing process?
That I still have a lot to learn.
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