Most short story writers are all too well aware that it’s hard to get a collection of short stories published via a traditional route. Publishers (and therefore agents too) want full length novels which give them an outside chance of making some money in today’s competitive market. If you’re an established writer, with a string of novels behind you, the situation might be different. But what if you want to support the very small presses which supported you when you started out on your writing journey?
David Belbin, one of the lecturers on my Creative Writing MA at Nottingham Trent, is best known for his young-adult novels (including Love Lessons, which I picked as one of the books for a reading group I attended years ago, long before even considering doing an MA), but he is also a short story writer, and his new and collected stories (18 in all) were published this summer by Shoestring Press. The book was available to pre-order at a discounted price prior to publication – and subscribers are listed in the back of the book. Subscribers obviously benefit from the discount (and a sort of ego-massaging pleasure from seeing their name appear at the back of the book!), and the Press benefits by gaining a number of guaranteed sales and being able to make an informed decision on the print run. Clearly the success of the venture is dependent on getting the word out – and David, as an established writer, is best placed to achieve this. But it’s an interesting strategy – and if it means a greater number of short story collections make it into print, let’s hope it’s used again in the future. David says, “It’s important to support small presses and the work they do. I’d like to thank Shoestring and the editors of every small magazine and anthology that has published my work since the very beginning of my writing career, now in its 27th year. These days, when big publishers tend to concentrate on potential best-sellers, we need them more than ever.”
Provenance is available from the Shoestring Press: http://www.shoestring-press.com/2016/04/provenance/ Unlike David’s other books, I don’t think you’ll find it on Amazon – and though there may be an eBook version in the future, this probably won’t be through Shoestring, who seem very traditional by nature.