Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Getting Published and Managing Expectations

Last week, I found out that my story, “The Sexton-Lily Intersection,” is going to be published in Oblong Magazine this August. This is fun and exciting and cool news, of course, but at the same time, I want to be realistic about what this “means” for me and my potential career as an author.

First, though, here’s the story of how I got to this position: I used Twitter. There’s a bit more to it than that, but not really all that much. I follow a bunch of writers and literary magazines on Twitter, and one of them mentioned this new magazine that was looking for stories. I checked out the website, and it turned out I had a story that seemed like it fit what they were looking for. So I submitted “The Sexton-Lily Intersection,” and a few days later (five, to be exact), they emailed me to say they wanted to publish it.

Now, a few reasons I’m trying to temper my excitement about my “big break”:

-My story will appear in the first issue of Oblong. Literary magazines trade on their reputation, and since Oblong hasn’t had time to build one yet, we don’t know how popular it will be or how many people will read it. Also, the best way to figure out what kind of magazine you’re looking at (and whether you would want one of your stories to appear in it) is to read what they have published, and I obviously didn’t have that option with Oblong; they mentioned several writers I like on their website, but that was really all I had to go on.

-Oblong is focused on only publishing a certain kind of story, flash fiction. Any genre can fit into the flash fiction form; it’s a form that is defined by length, not content. In the case of Oblong, they only want stories that are 1000 words long or shorter. Flash fiction is a growing market, especially on the internet--on sites such as Flash Fiction Online or SmokeLong Quarterly--  but it’s still one that isn’t very well known outside of English departments and literary journals.

-Oblong is based in England (the Brixton area of London, according to their site). I’m not sure how this will affect the availability of the magazine where I live (in Indiana), or if it will cost more to ship copies across the pond, for example. For all I know, it could open up an international market for me that I’m not even aware of yet.

So yeah, I’m not sure what getting this story published will mean in the long run, but I’m interested to see how it turns out and what I can learn from it. I’ll post updates here as the process moves along. 

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