Publishing a Short Story (#0028)

Yesternight, I had a strong inclination to share an old story of mine under this name. This inclination is so strong that I’ve decided to move ahead with the passionate momentum. Not only that, but today, I decided to share this process of self-publishing on my blog.

So, here I go, I’m going to blog through the process of this particular publication for readers to follow along my path for the heck of it.

My perfectionism requires me to apologize beforehand for any barely-edited posts that might occur because I will be updating this project regardless if I’m sick, tired, have a headache, etc.

In fact, I have an awful headache right now, but I feel strongly enough in moving forward with this concept and sharing the process as it happens, that I wanted to start RIGHT NOW. Passion, eh?

Without further ado, the starting details…

I first wrote this short story in late-2013. It started as one of three drafts that I wrote for a final assignment in the MFA program I was enrolled in (though I later left the program, I still finished and submitted my final assignments for the quarter anyways. You can read a bit more about my experience with the MFA program here).

Anyways, I shared these three drafts with a close friend and fellow writer at the time, who responded with feedback that they’d been most intrigued by one particular draft, which later became the short story that I submitted. I worked on all three drafts, but that one continued to stick out and the few readers I let look over it expressed similar interest in the world.

In 2014, I heavily edited the short story and submitted it to publication under a different penname to because I greatly admire the platform Tor has created for fantastical short stories online. It strikes me as sophisticated and I greatly respect the other authors that Tor showcases. Tor is one of those dream-come-true publishing companies for me, I’d be ecstatic if they ever picked up my books/stories.

It took five months to receive a response and the story was rejected under the straight-forward comment of “isn’t quite right for us. I wish you the best of luck placing it elsewhere. Please send us more of your stories in the future.”

I believe I understand why the story was rejected and honestly, I don’t disagree with that it wasn’t quite right for their platform either. But it was the best I had at the time and I wanted to share/submit to see what kind of response I would get.

See, the tricky thing is that the draft I submitted involved adult themes including illegal activities and a short sex scene between two men. I didn’t take these out of the story because, at the time, they were seemingly necessary to the story’s conclusion. I did lessen the details and tried to imply more than delving into gritty details, but the reality of the scenes are what they are.

So, while I was disappointed, I also understood. My attention moved away from writing short stories (something I was doing to dip my toe in the concept of shorts and the process of their construction) to my fantasy novel instead and writing the first draft of Stolen Control that I later expanded during NaNoWriMo. I’ve actually been heavily working on SC for the last week or so and perhaps that’s why I feel drawn to return to this particular short story.

Anyways, that summarizes the history of this short story and catches up to the present moment.

The reason why I haven’t shared the story’s title yet is because in the next few days, I will be choosing a new title.

While there is nothing wrong with the old title (I even kinda like it), it feels right to choose a new one instead. In order to do this, I will have to skim over the manuscript and/or go off recollection of the story, then write out possible ideas. I will, then, scramble those ideas to try out different combinations before choosing around 5-10 titles I’m most drawn to.

After that, I will proceed to check those final titles to titles that already exist and that usually whittles it down to 2-3 unique titles. From those, I will choose the new title.

In addition, I will be rewriting the conclusion and general arc of the story. The reason for this is because of the self-publishing platform I have chosen.

I have decided to publish this story through Smashwords (instead of Amazon, which I’m exploring through my other penname). There’s a few reasons for this, but mostly it’s for the difference in experience so that I can experientially explore my options before I publish my novels.

This morning, I spent most of my time reading through the T.O.S. of Smashwords and exploring the options they offer. I’ve had an account with Smashwords since February, but I’ve been considering them for a while due to the retailers that they service. Feel free to follow my account, here~

Smashwords has some interesting regulations to what they allow and what they don’t, as well as a fairly grey area when it comes to erotica. While I don’t plan on moving my erotica penname over to Smashwords, it was interesting to read about how they handle the genre regardless.

My short story has adult themes, so it’ll probably still be flagged as adult, but through rewriting, I plan on softening it to make it less mature so that it’ll be easily accessible by a wider range of people.

I hope to do this in a way that doesn’t compromise the story, though on a personal basis, it does bother me a little bit because a lot of publishing restraints feel like enforcement of societal status quo most of the time. However, I also believe in an author’s ability to write around society restrictions of their time and figure out clever ways to make the same effects/conclusions without terribly insulting the moralistic codes of their culture (though that’s a discussion for another day, perhaps).

Even if I reduce the mature themes of my story, I might still have to flag it as adult, but I’m not sure. I often feel that it widely varies what is considered adult or not when it comes to fantasy-based scenarios and worlds.

Is something made of nightmares considered Adult?

I assume Lovecraftian-like stories would be adult in nature by how Smashwords talks about it in their T.o.S…. but at the same time, I’m not sure. Some people would probably say yes, while others would say no. Perhaps I’ll research this more, later.

This is the sort of stuff I have to consider during the rewrite. Most of all though, I’d like to finish the rewrite by the end of this month.

So, my list of things to do during the next few days….

  1. [x] Read Smashwords Style Guide.
  2. [x] Prep a Manuscript Template that follows Smashwords’ requirements.
  3. [x] Gradually Rewrite the Short Story Through Reading the PDF and literally writing it into the template while reading.
  4. [x] Choose a new title for the Short Story.
  5. [x] Decide on how to handle the conclusion’s rewrite.
  6. [x] Research what constitutes the line between Adult / Non-Adult in Fantasy genre on Smashwords in regards to narrative imagery. (Maybe look at Horror genre too?)
  7. [x] Draft a Cover Image in Photoshop that follows Style Guidelines.
  8. Update blog with my progress. :)

During this process, I’m placing my erotica work on the side and will revisit later in the year. Unfortunately, what I’ve published under my erotica penname hasn’t gathered much traction – though it has only been three months, I suppose. I have a half-baked idea for another erotica novel that I think I’ll write this summer.

Meanwhile, I will continue gradually working on my fantasy novel when I feel like it (I did a bunch of world-building and character development the day before). It’s exciting that the first page of the fantasy novel is totally done though! This edit I’m doing is definitely THE LAST ONE, but it’s going to take me at least 6 months, if not a year or so of diligent writing/editing. (@ _ @)

Most of all, I will respect the process and trust myself during this project.

Wish me luck!


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