Publishing options for a collection of literary short fiction
May 27, 2013 2:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm nearing completion of a book of very short stories that riff in various ways on the 'joke' form. The pieces are 1-2 pages. I want to publish this book. I'm not sure the best way.

It seems the conventional way to do this would be to find several small presses, and try to make it happen with them. I'm currently in an MFA program and know people who can advise me if I want to try to do it that way. Also, in some ways the book is conventionally 'literary' and a natural fit for a literary small press.

However, I've also been wondering about Amazon self-publishing. The thing is, it seems I've mostly seen Amazon self-publishing referenced as an outlet for broad genre-y stuff, which this book is definitely not. However, even though the book isn't 'genre', I'd like to think it’s pretty fun to read and might could possibly do ok saleswise if people knew it existed.

My goals are 1) to make a little money, and 2) to have the book read by most living people. I think these goals are complementary, ie not at odds, so that seems good. Since I'm also considering teaching creative writing as a job, the prestige of the press is a 3rd factor that might be at odds with goals #1 and #2.

If you have any advice re all this I'd be happy to hear it. I'd also be especially interested if you have published a book with a small press, and which one it was, and how that went for you.

Finally, if you are interested in looking at the MS itself and offering me more specific advice, I'd be grateful for that and more than happy to send you the PDF. The MS right now is 85 pages. Also, examples of some of my 'jokes' that have already been published can be found on my website, in my profile.

posted by skwt to Work & Money (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Also, conversely, if you have experience with self-publishing on Amazon, I'd be interested in hearing about how that went.
posted by skwt at 2:37 PM on May 27, 2013

It's a bit of an odd manuscript length, so without an agent, you might have to do some legwork finding out which presses are interested in slightly atypical/ageneric work.

Are portions of it publishable as "flash fiction"? If Y, start sending to journals that publish flash fiction now. (There are even a bunch of flash fiction writing contests; the most prestigious to my mind are at Indiana Review and Gulf Coast.) These sorts of publications might make you more attractive to a small press, and are good to have on your CV when looking for a teaching gig.

You might look at Nouvella. (The websites they scout-list also provides a pretty good list of places you might want to submit anyway.)

Submitting it as a fiction chapbook also seems possible.
posted by munyeca at 4:29 PM on May 27, 2013

If you want this to help you with a future teaching career, consider the chapbook route. Tiny Hardcore Press, through PANK, is good. Magic Helicopter Press is good. Curbside Splendor is good. Origami Zoo is good. Rose Metal Press runs a chapbook contest every year.

However, if you want to make money, maybe you should try selling this to a novelty press a la Urban Outfitters' coffee table books. Check them out, see who publishes them?

You can make money through Amazon, but I feel like self-publishing and reputable publication for teaching are at odds.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 4:34 PM on May 27, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks guys.

munyeca: Yes, the pieces are publishable as flash fiction; a bunch of them are already published. Thanks for the Indiana Review and Gulf Coast recs though, I haven't submitted to either. And thanks for the nouvella & fiction chapbook links.

Miss T.Horn: Thanks for the various recs; interesting idea about the Urban Outfitters thing, I'll check that out.

This has been helpful, thanks.
posted by skwt at 10:13 AM on May 28, 2013

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