Selling Shorts

Donald Ray Pollock‘s recent interview with the Southeast Review covers a lot of interesting territory about short stories, not least the hard time that short fiction has these days (cf. this post):

I think everyone knows that it’s hard as hell to find a publisher for a collection of short stories, hard but not impossible. They just don’t sell that well, which is a mystery to me. Most people are so “busy” these days and distracted by technology and bullshit that you would think short fiction would be more appealing to them than a big novel, but that’s apparently not the case. Too, there are just so many of us trying to publish stories. I read slush for The Journal for a year and was amazed at the amount of stuff submitted every month. A lot of it was damn good, but, heck, the magazine could only accept maybe 10-12 stories per year.

As for me, I was very, very lucky to land with Doubleday. An agent just happened to pick up an issue of Third Coast, which is a small but respectable magazine, read “Lard,” and then emailed me. Within a few weeks, his agency had sold Knockemstiff. As for opposition, I probably got 150 rejections from magazines over the course of maybe five years. All the “big” magazines kept rejecting me, along with plenty of the smaller ones. But, as everyone will tell you, that’s to be expected. You just have to keep sending stuff out and plugging away. It’s a tough racket, but those who really want this thing will do that, just keep writing regardless of the number of rejections they receive.

The intro to the piece notes that Pollock hopes to eventually teach fiction writing. He’s got his wish this week—at least for a day.

Dept. of Self-Promotion: Denver Post books columnist David Milofsky has an interesting piece about what the future of book blogging might look like in the face of dwindling newspaper content and increasing paywalls. I’m quoted in the article as saying that we’ll have more original content on blogs and fewer blogs that just link out to other things. Like, uh, this post does. Life is a bundle of contradictions.

3 thoughts on “Selling Shorts

  1. I think the Denver Post is late to this debate, if we need to call it a debate. I remember seeing lots of back and forth (on blogs, on Twitter) about the future of book blogging earlier this year. And I’m sure that wasn’t the first round, either. It’s a variation on the old MSM vs. litblog wrassling of a few years back.

  2. I should have said, though, that your comments on the subject are astute, as ever! I’m glad you got a chance to talk about it at length in the Q&A you posted earlier.

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