first posted at awritergoesonajourney.com
There are still some schools of thought out there that think writing is really pretty easy. You just write a novel (easy-peasy) and major publishers are all sitting around, nervously biting their nicotine-stained fingernails as they wait for your manuscript to appear on their desk, at which time they will hand over a check with a suitably large number of zeros on it somewhere. Preceded by some number bigger than zero. Piece of cake. At that point, you can comfortably resign your ‘real’ job for the luxurious life of an author.
Sad to say, I did actually have a supervisor, when I still had a ‘real’ job, who honestly thought pretty much along those lines. She was quite certain that it was just a matter of course that I would finish a novel and be able to promptly resign my job (to her relief) on the large advance I would be given.
The reality of course is that it ain’t anywhere near that easy. Apart from the fact that writing a novel is damned hard work, getting published is a damned sight harder.
The often overlooked part is that of learning to be a publishable writer. Very few of us are able to just sit down and write that novel that publishers are all busting to sign up. We have to learn our craft, just as any apprentice does. For many of us, that learning experience and apprenticeship comes from the short story or novella. We have to learn how to craft a story, learn how to tell it in a compelling way that will draw the reader in. And we need to get experience in getting published, in pitching our work to publishers/editors, in editing and working with said publishers.
This is where small press comes into its own. The world of speculative fiction has a long history and tradition of small press producing anthologies of short stories in particular, which for many aspiring authors is the first entry into that magical world of actually seeing your story in print. Australia has its own strong tradition of small press.
In recent years the number of small press offering opportunities to Australian authors seems to have dipped a bit. For example, Cat Sparks decided to call it a day with her highly regarded Agog! Press in order to concentrate on her own work. Eneit Presswere sadly forced to call it a day for reasons we shan’t go into here as I have blogged furiously about this previously.
So it was great news to see Alisa Krasnosten win the World Fantasy Special Award – Non-professional at the World Fantasy Convention for her continuing work at Twelth Planet Press. This doesn't just proves the good work Alisa and co are doing there at Twelth Planet, but reminds us that the independent, small press are a vital and integral part of the Australian publishing scene.
Congratulations Alisa and keep fighting the good fight!
Ross the Repellent