Saturday, February 21, 2015

Quick Thoughts - Self Promotion

So sometimes I get a story accepted somewhere. I'm still relatively new to the whole publishing thing, so it doesn't happen all that often. But when it does, I get very excited. I imagine that it's like that for most writers. When I get something accepted I want to dance and tell everyone about it because there is that fleeting moment of validation in the piles and piles of rejections that makes me think I can do this. I can be a writer. And I know that, more than likely, most people won't read the story or, if they do, they'll forget about it in a few days or a week or something like that. So I want to capitalize on what time the story has and talk it up, get people to look at it.

But the problem I run into, and perhaps this is a thing for other writers as well, is that I can't bring myself to talk about the story before it comes out. I'm petrified of talking about a story as if it's an actual thing before it's out there. Even after contracts are signed. Even after money is in the bank. I just...I'm afraid that if I say something and then it doesn't happen that people will think I'm making it up. That I was tricking them somehow into thinking I'm better than I am.

Some background. Back in 2013, when I was first sending out stories to places and trying to get accepted, my first big acceptance happened. Pro rate. 5¢/word. I was super excited. I told people about it. I said, "I'm coming out here and it's going to be this much money and see, I'm legit." And then it didn't happen. The place that had accepted my story folded. Kinda. They never told me, but they published less and less, and my story just never made it. I was...well, crushed. In part because I didn't get paid. I didn't get my story published. And because I was a liar. I had said something was happening and then it didn't. People would ask when it was coming out and I had to admit everything and it sucked.

So now I find that I can't talk about anything. Not unless the other place announces it. Then I can, but before then, no. And I've seen people say that promoting ahead of a release helps the place where the story is coming out. And I understand that. I've seen people say they've made a sale and it does make me excited to see it. It makes me want to check out other stories at the venue. I want to participate. I do. I just...can't.

Probably I'm just being too sensitive. Probably it's fine and I should just deal with if a sale were to fall through again. I just can't be comfortable doing it. I'm afraid people will think I'm wasting my time, that I'm lying. Contracts don't mean all that much. I had a contract for the story that didn't go through. I just didn't know what to do with it when the place stopped returning my emails. So now I wait. I wait and I'm sorry.

That said, Electric Spec announced that my story, "Capital Coffee," is coming out at the end of the month. It's a flash fiction about coffee and zombies and is supposed to be funny. And hopefully people will like it. So look for that.

All the best,

Charles Payseur

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