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The Void.

Nearing the release date for The Third Corona Book Of Horror Stories, the third horror collection from Corona Books. A collection I have a story in. Anyhow. I'm sat here with a couple of boxes of said books: for giveaway and such - all part and parcel of the author hustle. I'm thinking back on a few weeks ago, when one of my peers shared the release news on social media and then expressed dismay on the lack of response from peers. For my part, I thought it was at me, rather than about me. Blame hasty reading/low blood sugar/etc. for misinterpretation. My bad. I'm aware, for many authors, there's an element of 'the void'; of trying to make yourself heard when no one is listening. Or when there are how many other voices also trying to make themselves heard. I'm always grateful for those who engage with my work - whether they're the readers, the publishers/editors, the fellow authors, and the artists/illustrators. As well as friends and family. But I never feel any sense of entitlement. In other words: it's cool if you like my work, but it's okay if you don't. That's your prerogative. In terms of the upcoming book, as it tells you on the cover, the stories that made the collection were selected from over 800 submissions. Think about that for a minute. Seriously. I'll outline it for you: A publisher wants to put together a collection of short horror stories. Let's say for the sake of argument, they want to put together a book of thirty stories - a nice round number. They then hold an open submission call (open submission: a period of time where authors can submit stories to a publisher without going through an agent). Let's say that open submission call runs for a month - the better part of 30 days for any interested author to send a story in. That's assuming the author needs to write a story - rather than them already having written one. This is just one of the reasons why I'm 'always' writing. I digress. But where the publisher is only looking for 30 stories, they get nearly 1000. And this - pardon the pun - is where the plot thickens. As a reader, would you want to read 1000 stories? As in: read 1000 stories from 1000 different authors, to a deadline? Make no mistake, this can be an arduous task. And that's assuming that all of the 1000 stories are of good quality and of style and content that engages you. Bear in mind that a story can be good and still not move you. For the publisher's part, compiling the book may be very much like compiling a mix-tape. It's not only about what tracks go in, but also the order they appear in. So the publisher's editor or editorial team have the task of going through what's known as the 'slush pile': the sheer volume of story submissions that come in. For the author's part, unless the publisher says upfront how many submissions were received, it may be hard to get a handle on 'why was my story rejected when I feel it was pretty damned good?' For my part, I've sent enough stories to enough publishers to know what kind of odds/numbers an author's up against to get their story into the final cut. You have a 1 in 1000 chance. Sound promising? 'No', because you're up against another 999 authors. And 'yes', because ideally, you have as much chance as anyone else. But 1000 authors? How many authors can you name? Is it 1000? But this is for a collection of horror stories, so the chances are good the stories will come from specifically horror authors. How many horror authors can you name? 1000? 100? 10? With that said, hopefully this gives more insight into what indie (independent - not signed to one specific publisher) authors are up against. So from an author point of view, I'm not surprised when every so often I'll get an invite asking me to 'like' an author's Facebook page. The answer is still 'no'. Actually it's no answer at all ...because the answer is 'no.' This doesn't come from a place of mean, but one of fact. I don't know you or your work, but you want me to 'like' your page. No. Not happening. Sorry. So I, too, may be shouting into the void. That's okay though, because I look at the bottom line to make myself heard. I continue to write stories, continue to shop them to publishers whether they're rejected or not. FYI, for my story in the Corona Books collection, I'd previously sent it to a different publisher who rejected it. Of course, I don't let a little thing like rejection stop me. I continue to promote my work, as well as those of others - work that moves me. Or at least that the approach to said work moves me. The new novella draft is now wrapped as of yesterday. Not my best work, far from it. But after a clean-up of the draft and tightening flow, nuance, etc, it might just shine. There's still additional work to do for, well, additional work. Part of the reason I feel less of a reason to shout into the void is because I'm always working on something. New stories. New interviews/Q&A/podcast/etc. New conventions. In much the same way that if an alarm clock goes off in the morning, it doesn't go off once. Why? Because it keeps going. To get your attention. Something you can't ...a-void. "Ha."

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