Monthly Archives: August 2011

Short Stories #22,23,24,25 Finished

I really enjoyed the short-short story I wrote for Story #21 last week, and I only had a smattering of small fragments of writing time this weekend, so I made the most of them and wrote four more shorts over the weekend, ranging from about 250-1000 words each, totalling almost 3,000 new words of fiction.

Two of them I’ve mailed out already to professional markets and the other two I’ll send out shortly.

But that’s four new short stories in three evenings. Not bad a bad jolt of progress if I am going to make this 40 short story (50 stretch goal) ambition of mine for the calendar year 2011.

Believe it or not, I wrote three of them entirely on my iPad and the other one (the shortest of the bunch) on my smartphone. I never expected to do much writing on the iPad when I first got it, but I’ve found it’s a great tool to allow me to write at times and locations where I would otherwise just be twiddling my thumbs. So I no longer laugh when people joke that the iPad is great but you’d never want to write a novel on it. I may go ahead and write a novel on it just to show it can be done.

I have only written a handful of shorts for my challenge so far this year so I don’t have all the markets for them figured out yet, nor have I decided how I will handle them when the time comes to e-publish them. I am thinking I will bundle three-to-five of them together, depending on word count, and sell them as themed flash fiction collections for 0.99. Or I may put a couple of them up individually for free. Or I may include them to round out 5-packs of short stories with longer word counts.

Not sure yet, but that’s the first week of this challenge with four stories finished in one week.

So, great progress and I expect to have some more time soon to hopefully complete the short novel that I’ve been working on for a few weeks now.


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Filed under Flash Fiction, Short Stories, Story Challenge 2011

Short Story #21 Mailed

Well, things have been busy for me but I’ve been pounding away as often as I can on the science fiction mystery that  I mentioned in my Short Story #20 Mailed post. But that story has ballooned to 12,700 words and is headed into short novel territory so I have not yet finished it.

But I really wanted to have a new story out in the mail this week.

So I wrote a short-short for a well-paying professional market that I know needs short-shorts and mailed it off. Took me about an hour to write.

We’ll see if they like it or not, and the good news is that even if they reject it there are lots of other markets where I could send this one.

I am going to have to write some more of these if I am going to make my 40 (or stretch 50-story) goal for this year. My last couple of stories have gone long and since I usually can only find 3-4 nights a week with time for writing, it’s been tough to finish them as quickly as I would like.

On the other hand, writing some longer pieces has been good practice for me as well. In my latest longer piece I am practicing my hooks and cliffhangers and having a great time with it. Still not a clue how it will end yet (grin), but it’s been a fun one to write so far. I’ll post a note here when I get it finished, hopefully next week.

In the mean time I may crank out a few more shorts because boy was that short one fun to throw together in an hour.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Short Stories, Story Challenge 2011

Week in the Life #2: My First $1.66 as a Professional Writer

Well, this was a fun week for me.

First off, I only received one rejection in the mail this week. And it was a rather encouraging personal rejection from ChiZine (a pro-paying market for dark fiction) on a short-short story I sent them about a month ago. The editors liked it but it wasn’t quite “dark” enough to suit the aesthetic of that particular magazine. I’ve already sent it on to my next market (but it’s a really tough one, so low expectations there even though I think the story is a solid one).

I wasn’t able to finish my work-in-progress and mail it out this week. I thought I might be able to finish it Thursday night but I got too tired and actualy ended up falling asleep for a couple hours while getting my kids to bed, so bye-bye writing time for that night. It’s up to 4,400 words and will probably need another 2-3,000 words to wrap up, but I have to admit that part of me hopes it goes longer and it gets into novella territory so that I can e-pub it sooner (grin). I like how the story is turning out so far, although the writing on it has been going a little slow (I’m probably averaging only 500 words an hour or so while writing this one).

I also finally figured out Smashwords and Pubit so my current catalog of stories is available on all the major platforms now. They’ll soon be available in the Apple, Kobo, and other stores through the Smashwords extended distribution system as well.

Here’s where you can find Alistair Ainscott’s author pages:

Trinity of the Sands received a rather complimentary four-star review from a Mr. J. Adams shortly after I posted the story. Thank you, Mr. Adams, for buying the story and even more so for your time to post a thoughtful review.

I’ve already sold four copies of Trinity of the Sands in the two weeks it’s been up on Kindle (and just one week on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords).

None of those are purchases by anyone I know.

Althought that number sounds small, it’s actually great for a single 99-cent short story. I also keep reminding myself that I’m just getting started at this (an as-yet unknown author with very few stories available).

Those four sales suggest that story should average around 10 sales a month (across all channels).

If I net an average of $0.40 per sale, thats $4.00 per month. $48.00 per year. $240.00 if I leave it up for five years.

And that’s assuming that the audience of people with e-readers remains flat (it’s exploding).

And that I don’t include the story in 5- and 10-story collections down the road here.

And that additional sales channels across the world don’t continue to open up to my electronic publishing efforts.

And that I do nothing else (I will have many more stories up before too long, and they will keep improving because I am continuing to learn this craft and rapidly getting better and better at it).

So if I can keep writing and keep telling stories at that level or better, then those onesies and twosies in the Kindle sales report are going to add up quite nicely in the long term.

In the meantime, my first $1.66 earned as a professional writer & indie publisher will do me just fine to cover the postage on the next short story manuscript that I mail out.


Filed under Dean Wesley Smith, E-Pub, Rejections, Short Stories, Week in the Life

A Week in The Writer’s Life #1 and Some Thoughts on Dumpsters

Ah, here’s a tiny peek into one week in the life of Mr. Ainscott, an early-career professional writer:

  • Six rejections received, including two on the same story (some of the online professional-paying markets are ridiculously fast these days!). All form rejections this week; it comes with the territory, I’m afraid, and it’s what makes those online markets so fast to respond.
  • Six pieces sent back out in the mail, including one new story.
  • A couple sales of my short story, Trinity of the Sands for Kindle, trickled in (and whoever you are, dear reader, thank you very much for plunking down a hard-earned dollar to read my story). It’s not much but actually I’m super-excited about that as this blog is new, I only have a smattering of stories up right now, and I haven’t been doing any promotion of the stories that are there at all as of yet.

On this last point, check out Dean Wesley Smith’s post about doing the math on indie publishing. All you need is a few sales trickling in on each of your stories, and if you write and keep on writing, it doesn’t take too long for it all to add up. Plus we are still in the early days of the massive shift to electronic reading that is coming, and much sooner than anyone expected. Paper books aren’t going to die completely, but it sure will seem that way in a few years– or maybe even sooner.

In other words, the writers who will succeed are the writers who can write and keep writing– even while holding down a full-time job, as I do.

This echoes, in fact, a more general truth about the modern ecosystem of information workers and creative professionals that Richard Florida identifies in The Rise of the Creative Class:

“The winners in the long run are those who can create and keep creating.”

Note this doesn’t say anything about avoiding failures, or rewriting, or only churning out great works of literature. If you’re failing, then you need to fail faster. If all your submissions are getting form-rejected, you need to write more and more and get rejected faster, because that is the only way to learn. To get better. To write a story so damned full of awesomeness that they have to take it.

I have a colleague who used to evaluate high-tech startup companies. He would go and meet them and talk with everyone and sit through their PowerPoint slides and all of that.

But then, when the day was over, he would sneak out back and look at what they had in their dumpster. If it was just full of paper and post-it notes and discarded coffee cups, then he knew it was all bluster and they couldn’t be trusted.

But if it was full of sawed-up plywood and crazy busted contraptions with wires hanging out of them and bent-up sheet metal, then he knew they were really doing something. That they might have something.

A dumpster brimming with discarded ideas was the surest indicator that the start-up was full of creators who weren’t afraid of trying things, that they weren’t afraid of failing, that they were bold enough to create and keep creating.

So, here’s to keeping a full dumpster when it comes to learning my craft as a writer.

Now, back to that word processor…


Filed under Dean Wesley Smith, E-Pub, Rejections, Short Stories, Week in the Life