|Anna. The perfect woman.|
My science fiction story Anna has been published in German translation. The print edition of Nova 29 can be found on Amazon.
In addition to English, I have been published in seven other languages, including Estonian, Dutch, Greek, Catalan and Galician, (two mainstream Spanish dialects), and in Portuguese.
For the most part, the only pay is a couple of copies, (and sometimes not even that), but the Greek version of the same story paid one hundred and forty euros. With a twenty percent tax withholding, not really worth filing a Greek tax return in order to get that back, but I am the only guy I know who has paid taxes in Greece…I’ve paid some in the U.S. as well, which is why you want to get an ITIN with the revenue folks. U.S. tax withholding is thirty percent. If you’re selling any books or stories at all, and you don’t actually live there, why pay tax when you don't have to?
When I first started submitting to foreign markets, it involved breaking one or two unwritten rules. I was just some guy, trying to write the craziest possible stories, and submitting them to the greatest number of markets. Essentially, a newcomer in a field that is already crowded enough, and if you really want to succeed, you’re going up against long-term professionals.
Their basic rule is to sell the story in English first. Their concern is to hang onto 'first-rights' in English, but I couldn't sell a story in English to save my life. To go straight to the foreign markets was unconventional, to say the least. And those guys, the foreign editors know the rules too. In that sense, I kind of got lucky. They might have thought I was more successful in English than I really was.
At that point, you don’t want to worry too much about what the real pros think of you.
(It’s probably not so good, so why torment yourself.)
In the fiction market, I had never been published in a professional or even semi-professional magazine. I had six manuscripts for full-length books, and I had submitted them around. Yes, I had worked for a newspaper and written for some small industrial magazines. A few months, less than one year, of actual employment did not seem to account for much. It didn’t buy any respect, I can assure the reader of that. If nothing else, I figured I could write on some level of basic proficiency.
Back then, this involved printing out chapters, writing letters and sticking an inordinate number of stamps on large buff envelopes. Even then, I probably had a few rejection slips.
Okay, so Aurora Award winning writer Douglas Smith was at Genrecon, in 2009, along with some other successful authors.
He talked about earning money from writing short fiction. I wanted to write books, and so I had never really considered short fiction. I cornered him—literally, in the men’s room, and he was kind enough to tell me a little bit more about it before we went back into the authors panel discussion.
Okay, so how do I do it?
There are market lists. The first time I tried to market my book projects, I went to the library, and the book in question could not be loaned out—it had to stay in the building, (under the watchful eye of resource librarian Jeffery Alan Beeler, who recently retired), and so, I laboriously copied out publishers and addresses and whatever was available in terms of submission guidelines.
Nowadays we can get all of that online. We submit via email, using a simple .doc file.
Douglas has a website, the website has a page ‘for writers’, and if you click on that, you will find his Foreign Market List.
Once you’ve gotten over the first few rejections in the general sense, the ones from foreign markets are no different. It’s just one more rejection slip. I currently have eleven hundred plus rejections, and the success rate is what? One or two percent. Three percent at the most.
I have been offered at least four contracts. On examination, they didn’t look all that professional and there were some elements of vanity publishing. A lot of department store mom-and-pop pics and one title per author sort of thing. The more professional authors tend to leave the spouse and the dog and the grand-kids out of their profile pics...
A much more reputable publisher of science fiction and fantasy once asked for a ‘partial’, in other words chapters four to seven of a book. They already had the first three chapters on their desk. That book, The Shape-Shifters, was ultimately rejected. They were also interested in Time Storm for an ebook, and I didn’t even know what an ebook was at that point. That deal never happened for various reasons which aren’t that important some years later.
And that’s about it—not that I haven’t had some fun along the way, and made some money by publishing it all myself, in the end.
So, if it’s not so much about the money, what is the point? For one thing, an editor liked the story well enough to put the work into the translation. For another, when some troll reviewer on Amazon makes a point of mentioning that they didn’t even read the story but it’s full of typos, missing words and plot holes, it’s pretty obviously just bullshit—
And not everyone can say they’ve been published in their own language, let alone a foreign market.
What’s interesting about the story Anna, is that Michael Iwoleit had accepted the story, and then the magazine discontinued accepting foreign submissions. Mike had some health problems and the whole thing seemed dead. Three or four years later, and all of sudden it has come to life again.
Here’s one market list, Ralan.com.
Readers can get a free English copy of Anna in ebook form from Smashwords and other fine retailers. Here is the blurb, which I wrote myself. I also do all of my own covers:
Anna changed my life. Anna was the perfect woman for an emotional cripple, and really brought me out of my shell. I'd been on the inside for a long time. Now I'm retired, just some scholarly old gentleman with his young wife. I even ditched the .45 Colt for Anna. So what if she's electronic and I ordered her out of a catalogue. And if you have to ask the price, you can't afford one. A short story.
Here is the link to a recent story about the release of my first audiobook, Speak Softly My Love. An Inspector Gilles Maintenon mystery.
Check out my drawings on Fine Art America.
Illustration by Louis.
Thank you for reading.