What Reply All Taught Me About Publishing

Reply All: that venomous email ability that you must use in some settings, but absolutely shouldn’t use in others. It also seems that several people always use Reply All, no matter the context.

I have been in several email chains for the anthologies in which my shorts have appeared, and there’s usually at least one chain in which someone loses their minds and does an ill-advisable Reply All. It’s bound to happen when there’s 10+ people per email and several emails out there. However, it’s also an enlightening experience; many people don’t view publishing the way I do. Without someone screwing up, I might never have found the following out.

The Power of BCC

Blind Carbon Copy is amazing.

Shooting out an email to a large number of people, but don’t want those people to annoy each other with Reply Alls? Send it BCC. That way when people inevitably do click reply all, it just goes back to you and perhaps one or two organizers.

The other big time to use BCC is if you don’t have permission to blast another person’s email address out there in the ether. As someone whose real name is very private, I made a “writing email” so that I show up as H.R.R. Gorman no matter what I do. However, if I used my personal email to sign up for something, I wouldn’t want you weirdos finding out the legal name.

Lastly, BCC will prevent embarrassing hiccoughs or instances where someone explodes. Publishers and other authors are trying their best, but sometimes we just fail or disappoint other people. If someone’s trying to be malicious, BCC will protect the innocent sensibilities of those who don’t need to see that.

Anthology Publishers and Editors Have Limited Time

When one publishes in an anthology, usually the publishers do editing – sometimes all of it if editing is their thing. Sometimes they send it off to a professional editor. Either way, you can be certain someone is looking over your work and polishing it up.

Reply All has taught me that many people don’t care about this until it’s too late, or they’ll get back a couple weeks/months late and say “it’s ok.” No matter how hard editors and publishers (and you!) work, books are large and it’s easy for small things to get by us all. It’s good to do your agreed part and take a look at everything. Do your work on time; other people could have used that money the publishers paid you, even if it’s a small amount. You don’t want the black stain of being “unresponsive” or having a typo in your story!

Publishers BOUGHT Your Story – Let Them Have It

You also know there’s two main types of editing: copyediting, which includes proofreading and fixing for grammar or simple language/structure errors, and content editing, which includes changes to story elements. A lot of times I’ve seen submission places online say they will no longer accept short stories that will need content editing because it “takes too much time” or requires changes to the story.

My friends, Reply All taught me what “too much time” means. The reason these people will no longer accept good ideas is probably due to people being overly protective about it and fighting. If you agree to the editing process and sign the contract, abide by the contract. The publisher wants to publish, and holding them back helps neither of you. No story is worth blowing up over.

If you send out a story and an editor wants you to make edits you don’t like, certainly say you don’t like them, but never, never Reply All saying so. Think about how you sold your story, and now it’s up to them to get what they wanted to purchase from you. If the edits make it such that you wouldn’t want it going out into the world, read your contract and see what you agreed to do. Explain what you liked about your story and think the edits took away from it, then suggest a path forward. Construct with your editor, not against them.

What about you?

Have you been on any interesting Reply All chains? Have you learned anything when in anthologies or working with other authors/editors? Let me know in the comments!

Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA on Pexels.com

I’m Published in Lethal Impact!

Some of you may have been alerted on Twitter that I got a second story accepted into an anthology released by Dragon Soul Press – and it’s here on Kindle and paperback preorder!

DragonSoulPress Square HRR Gorman

In this post-apocalyptic anthology, nothing matters except survival.
In a world full of humans pitted against each other, how can there be anyone left to trust?

This book contains 16 stories by different authors, of which yours truly is one, about post-apocalyptic struggle.

As more marketing shenanigans for this book starts happening, you’ll start seeing more from me!

Dark Divinations – What’s in YOUR Future?

The time is nigh, my friends, to speak of horrors and things… unseen.

On May 1st, the anthology Dark Divinations goes live! And look at that cover – it’s pretty great, if you ask me.

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Here’s the teaser which can be found on the book’s webpage:

It’s the height of Queen Victoria’s rule. Fog swirls in the gas-lit streets, while in the parlor, hands are linked. Pale and expectant faces gaze upon a woman, her eyes closed and shoulders slumped. The medium speaks, her tone hollow and inhuman. The séance has begun.

Join us as we explore fourteen frightening tales of Victorian horror, each centered around a method of divination. Can the reading of tea leaves influence the future? Can dreams keep a soldier from death in the Crimea? Can a pocket watch foretell a deadly family curse? From entrail reading and fortune-telling machines to prophetic spiders and voodoo spells, sometimes the future is better left unknown.

There’s tons of goodies for people who pre-order! Horror Addicts is giving away free tarot-inspired cards for those who take the dive and search for their Dark Divination, and you can get a sneak peak on this YouTube teaser:

And, won’t you look at that – one of the authors featured in the anthology is little ol’ H.R.R. Gorman. I wrote a short called Miss Mae’s Prayers, of which I will be releasing a snippit later… mwahaha!

You can pre-order this anthology of Victorian horror here, and you can find the Horror Addicts Patreon here. A Kindle or Amazon link will be on a later post, since those don’t come with pre-order goodies.

January News

Hello everyone! I hope it’s been a great month for y’all – it’s been a doozy for me, and I’ve got some exciting things to tell y’all today.

Real Life – Job? Maybe?

I recently had an interview at a company I’d be interested in joining. I think it went well, but I’m of course not aware of the other candidates (if any). Good thoughts only! Hoping to pay off my house (or at least be able to pay the mortgage without eating into the emergency funds) quickly and get FILTHY RIIIIIICH*

Squidward Life Goals
Add immortality serum and a Bugatti Veyron and we’re all set.

*maybe not filthy, but definitely sustainable and far better off than I’ve ever been throughout my entire life.

Short Story Accepted Into an Anthology!

I’m very excited to announce that my short story, “Miss Mae’s Prayers”, was accepted into Dark DivinationsThe anthology is a selection of stories about ominous omens, about frightening visions, and gloomy fortunes. All the stories are set in the Victorian era.

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Look at that cover. That alone is getting me excited about this book, and I’m pretty much looking forward to getting a copy (though perhaps this is part of my excitement over my first real fiction publication).

Mine is super Southern Gothic, and I’m quite proud of it. More about the anthology will be coming, for those interested!

Also, while I’ve not had a job, I’ve done some short story writing with the goal of publishing. That along with my pretty intensive read-to-catch-up schedule has kept me busy. I’m not sure why I’ve dropped off in terms of blogging/blog reading, but I think it’s possibly just burnout. So forgive me if I’ve been terrible.

A Promise Fulfilled

So, back in May last year I wrote this stupid tweet:

And I then promised someone that I’d carry through with that threat.

So, there will be a Gender Reveal party because my submission to Dark Divinations included such a biography that used my correct pronouns.

I chose not to use “they” because I believe it wouldn’t have been appropriate; I do have a pronoun, a pronoun that I have been excellent at not using. Non-binary people have claimed “they” as a pronoun, and I suppose it inappropriate to hijack that just to carry on an experiment that has perhaps carried on too long.

Unless it comes up as a conversation piece, I also usually let you make whatever decisions you may, and I try to play devil’s advocate whenever someone makes a guess. As a result, some of you will be wrong, and some of you will be right. Honestly, I’m quite interested to know your opinions. Chat about it in the comments – perhaps you’ll see someone else has a better argument!

So, one week after Dark Divinations debuts (June-ish, I think?), I will reveal more about myself. If you want to know for certain a little early, you’ll have to purchase a copy of the anthology! More details will follow in the coming weeks/months!

H.R.R. Gorman’s Author Newsletter – July 2019

I took things a little slower in July. Even so, I got a few things accomplished that I’m really proud of, and I wanted to talk about them here and hint to things coming.

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Short Story Submissions

I hate this part of author life. God knows I do. I did three (maybe four) last month, and my goal was to get three this month. Well, I wrote three stories, but I only got two submitted because I have no idea where to submit the third one. If you know of a place to submit weird alien stories, let me know.

Still no “yes” from anyone. Hopeful about some of the June ones, but not really expecting anything at this point.

Dark Divinations

I submitted a story to Dark Divinations. The prompt was a Victorian era horror about divining the future. Since my cultural background was highly influenced by events in the Victorian era, I took an Appalachian approach to it – and I hope they like it!

Mysterion

This magazine publishes Christian stories in interesting contexts. I decided to try a sci-fi story because I bet they get way more fantasy. I hope to stand out, and perhaps that will give me an edge! I also think religiously inspired sci fi is WAY too rare, so this is right up my alley.

An Unexpected Success!

Last year at about this time, I decided that I needed to discover what people liked about poetry. I needed to know what someone meant when they said a passage was “poetic.” I believed that the understanding of poetry would improve my prose if nothing else, and I looked for ways to learn it.

One of my favorite poetry teachers is Colleen Chesebro. Her weekly micropoetry prompt/contest is chock full of excellent hints, tips, and – most importantly – feedback. Even if she must leave a quiet comment one week, I can still look at who she chose as the winner and try to divine why it was considered the best. I can’t imagine how much work she must do to curate such a fantastic contest.

Anyway, I was stunned to find out I’d been chosen as Poet of the Week on July 22nd! My poem, The Woman at 106, was written for Colleen’s first ever photo prompt. What an honor! I am very pleased that my dedication to learning a new craft is showing fruit.

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Camp NaNoWriMo

This was my first month of Camp, and I… succeeded?

Basically, what I learned was that I should have dedicated a number of hours to writing rather than a number of words written/edited. Because I tend to go backwards on word count when I edit, I could NEVER reach my goal. However, I think I reached my goal in spirit, so I think that counts a lot.

Will I do Camp again? I’m not sure. I didn’t find it all that much different from a normal month, save for an additional obligation and a few extra cheerleaders. I’ll think about it!

Blog Recap

I stayed pretty on par this month with my June month, and for right now this feels more sustainable than my “post every day” schedule. Sadly, there wasn’t a late-July Carrot Ranch prompt, but hopefully y’all didn’t hate that blank spot! I did a lot of prep for later months, though, and I think I’ve come up with some great surprises for the beginning of 2020 (no promises, though! I need to make sure I have enough material to actually do it justice). I’ve also nearly gotten all my 2019 reading done (1.75 books away)!

Here’s a few of my favorite blog posts from the month:

Some Things from Real Life

This month has been full of IRL things. I went on vacation (day trip one weekend to Battleship North Carolina), worked a LOT (good Lord), and had to go help my mom when she came down with gout.

Aaand because of the gout, my mom is now convinced it’s time to retire, and I could be looking at her showing up at my door any day now ready to move in. She doesn’t really plan things out sometimes, so she could come unannounced. I love my mom, and I do think she should come live at our house at least until she sells her own house (which is 3 hours away), but I also don’t really want to share it long-term right yet. Am I selfish? I feel like I am. I’m also worried that she hasn’t saved up enough for retirement, and I’m not old enough to have that much savings built up (I’m not 30 yet – I have old parents, in case you’re wondering about that).

Anyway, I hope I’ve done right by my mom, but I worry I’ve not.

H.R.R. Gorman’s Author Newsletter – June 2019

June was a big month for me.  I wanted to share with y’all a few things that I’ve done and maybe get out some hints as to what’s coming next.

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Short Story Submissions

If you remember back in May, I decided to submit a short story somewhere in order to start feeling better about getting rejections.  I sent a story to a quick turnaround journal and, of course, got rejection #1, just like almost everyone.

This month, I wanted to do a few more submissions, so here’s what I did:giphy-2

Chew On This Anthology*

I submitted a short story to a horror anthology about eating scary things.  It’s southern gothic and all kinds of weird.  I hope the editor for this anthology likes the more psychological, Twilight-Zone style of horror.

*Also, this was submitted in May but I’m not sure if I told everyone here.

Three-Lobed Burning Eye Magazine

A weird looking magazine seeking weird-sounding fiction.  I submitted my short story “Disco Demolition Night” because I think it’s basically gold but, unfortunately, is in a really weird genre.  If you have ideas for what to do with historical fantasy, let me know!  I write too much of it for my own good.

Across the Universe Beatles Spec Fic

Like I said above, I write too much alternate history or historical fantasy for my own good.  This anthology specifically wanted a story about the Beatles, and I had an idea that I hoped they’d like.  Well, it was rejected fairly quickly, so you’ll be seeing it on the blog soon because I genuinely don’t think a Beatles themed fanfic will see much success elsewhere!

Jolly Horror

Jolly Horror is making a horror-comedy anthology about cursed items. I wrote a story  and submitted that.  I really enjoyed the little tale, so we’ll see what the editors think.  It’s still historical fantasy, le sigh.

Blog Recap

This month on the blog, I slowed things down.  This will probably be the pace here for a while, because it’s more manageable.  Hopefully the reduced post-load will give me time to develop more professional outlets like publishing short stories or finishing new long works.

Here’s a few of my most popular posts from the month you can check out!

Some Things from Real Life

Well, I’ve kept writing things other than the blog – and, since I decided to do fewer posts this month, I used my time well!  I finished the novel I’ve had in my wheelhouse for quite some time.  It’s not ready for alpha readers (I want to have a swing at editing it myself first), but hopefully at the end of July I’ll put it out there for people to take a peek at.  It may be the craziest thing I’ve ever written.

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As well, I finished what I believe are the last edits of The Mercury Dimension.  When I feel confident enough and have a short story credit or two to my name, I plan on querying with it.

What are some things you’ve done this month?  Let me know in the comments!  Maybe we can commiserate about the writing life or trade an alpha read! I’ll tell you about the story I finished, American Chimera, if you’re interested.

Will I Ever Commit?

Y’all, I promised earlier this month that I would submit something, somewhere, for publication.

This post is about how I may have gotten closer, but not for reasons I expected.

I Found Some Places to Submit

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I found some resources (Authors Publish Magazine is a free email subscription that sends you goodies, and DuoTrope is a paid subscription that looks really good – I’ll probably get a subscription if I ever get paid for anything I write) and looked through them for some interesting magazines to try.

I have written a story, Disco Magic, that I want to get published somewhere.  It’s pretty well researched, I’ve had a beta reader (THANK YOU!), and I think it’s good.  The problem?  It’s historical fantasy set in the 70’s.  Who publishes that?  No one, apparently!

I Wrote A New Short Story

So I looked for what people actually want to publish.  I found one upcoming compendium, Chew on This, that made me get an inkling of an idea.

I wrote a short story, Watching You, that fits the call for submissions.  The problem?

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It’s quiet, psychological horror which, while the prompt says it’s ok, doesn’t match a lot of the other stuff I’ve read from the publisher.  Perhaps I’m overthinking it.  It’s hard to tell, since I’ve never even tried to submit somewhere before!

I Wrote a Cover Letter

I’d never done this before for a short story!  So I gave it a whirl.

Robert Essig,

Please consider “Watching You” (Southern Gothic, 3,300 words) for your “Chew on This” horror anthology.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

H.R.R. Gorman
https://hrrgorman.wordpress.com

bold strategy

Wow.  I think I might have better chances with some sort of chemistry related story because then I could display the degree as part of my qualifications.  As it is, I’m pretty sure I can’t say “I’m southern AF and as Baptist as they come.”  My qualifications for this work/heartache are spotty because I have no proof.

Have any of you written cover letters for short stories?  I haven’t submitted yet, so there’s still time to save me from embarrassment!

(Also, I know I’m supposed to use my real name in the cover letter, but y’all aren’t getting it!)

Stressing Out

Now I just have to click submit on the email.  That’s it.

But I can’t do it.  Why?  I don’t understand.  But hopefully I’ll get it done by next Tuesday and, therefore, fulfill my goal of having something submitted by the end of the month.

Anyway, I hope I can give you good news next Thursday and say that I clicked the button!  If you want to do a CP swap with short stories, let me know soon and I’ll be happy to do so with Watching You.

Goals in April

You know what I haven’t done on this blog in quite some time?  Talk about my goals.  About writing.  About anything truly personal.  And maybe you don’t care, maybe you do, but I wanted to do this for two reasons.

One is that if I say I’ll do something, my insane sense of duty will make it happen.

The other is that I could use some encouragement.  Advice, if you have it.

I Want to Submit a Short Story Somewhere

I’ve written a short story that I think is pretty good.  It’s fantasy and somewhat historical, and I think it’s a fairly diverse work.  I had a beta reader/sensitivity reader already, and I think doing much more for a short story wouldn’t be considered ‘worth it.’

So it’s a goal.  I’m doing it.  I’m going to submit a short story somewhere.

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…But First I Need To Figure Out HOW To Submit

How do you know where to submit short stories?  I’ve read short stories in places like TOR or Clarkesworld, but where else is there?

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So I looked it up.  Fantasy, since that’s what the current short story is.  There’s a ton of magazines.

But where do I go first?

I read on one of Rachel Poli’s guest posts that it’s a good idea to aim high first, then resubmit to lower journals as you get rejected.  But I’m not sure, for me, if that’s a good idea.

Because, Worst of All, I’m Very Scared to Do This

In case you guys don’t know, you can follow me on Twitter.  I’m still hrrgorman there.

I got in a conversation on Twitter with Sam Weiss, who encouraged me to submit.  Like she said, an author can’t succeed unless they submit things.  Unless they get used to rejection.

But oh God, I… I can’t do it.

Part of me just believes that my work isn’t really worth money, that no one would actually ever pay for that privilege (or, worse, they would pay for it and feel regret later).

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The other part of me remembers just how terrible the PitchWars process back in August felt.  It literally destroyed me: I nearly stopped blogging, almost gave up the ‘publishing dream’ altogether.  I decided to hold off on giving up because I had gained quite a bit of headway on the blog, but Lord.  That experience set me back quite a ways.  Rejection isn’t just a normal fear for me – I’m absolutely terrified.  When it happens, I turn into a disastrous mush.  I ruin my own life because of it.

Anyway, I sound whiny as hell.  Like a teenager or something.  But still, I’m not even sure if it’s worth submitting a story somewhere…

Do you have thoughts?  Feelings?  Suggestions?  I’m resolved to try something, and I’ll keep you updated on this blog if for no other reason than to tell you whether I actually followed through on my promise.

Thanks for everything, y’all!

 

Renewed Goals

At the beginning of the year, my goal was to submit something to someone for publication.  Whether it was a publishing house, an agent, or something of the sort, my idea was to give it a whirl and get my first rejection (or, if I were extraordinarily lucky, an acceptance).

I’m not sure I’m going to meet that goal – and it won’t be for lack of a polished novel.

It’ll be because I’m not sure it’s worth trying.

This is my long-winded update on where I am with my writing and what I want to do next.

The Mercury Dimension

The Mercury DimensionThe Mercury Dimension is the book I finished a first draft of on January 2, 2018.  It’s not my first novel.  Not counting the drivel I wrote in high school, it was my 18th.

Since then, it’s gone through 2 complete rewrites and about 10 full edits.  I’ve had 3 alpha readers, 5 beta readers, and even went so far as to look for an editor (it’s complicated, but I’m not looking for a new editor at the moment).

Lastly, I submitted it to the Twitter contest, PitchWars.  The contest is an ‘author mentoring’ contest in which already agented or published authors help new, unagented authors.  I submitted because, as somone told me, there was nothing to lose.  Even if I get nothing out of it, I at least gain practice writing a query.

I regret the experience in its entirety.

I regret it to the point where I question my publishing goals.

I put off, without concrete plans to take it back up, the idea to submit to agents or publishers.

‘No, don’t give up on your dream!’ You may say

And I answer: why not?

Last December, I asked my mom to read The Mercury Dimension’s first chapter, and she said, “My eyes are too bad.  I cain’t read your small font.”

Instead of questioning her abilities with MS Word, I just made a new file with bigger font.

“My eyes are too bad.  I cain’t look at screens that long.”

I offered to get it printed at a print shop.

“Don’t waste the money. I cain’t change the font on paper.”

TMD visual

Art that I made for The Mercury Dimension. It’s in the dumpster now, save for this digital version.

I decided the answer was to get published so that I could see it turned into a professional audiobook.  She could listen to it.  Her eyes wouldn’t be an issue.

But I can’t help asking: is the problem that my mom has bad eyes, or is the problem that I’ve written something she doesn’t care about reading?

Or, more realistically, is the problem that I crave validation? Was the goal of publishing supposed to replace the fact that my mom doesn’t want to read my stuff?  That my art isn’t hung on the fridge, so to say?  Is the audiobook plan just a distraction from the fact that I’m not investing my time by spending it doing what my mother wants (which is watching British TV on mute, no subtitles, while drinking tea with diabetes levels of sugar)?

If all that is true, then why go through the trouble of submitting and getting rejected?  I already know, just from watching self-published authors’efforts, that going the self-publishing route would sap all the joy I get from writing.  If the efforts of getting published aren’t likely to be fruitful (a.k.a. bring satisfaction), why do it?

So I waffle.  I think, on alternate days, that I should just give it a whirl.  At other times, I think that putting effort into it is a waste of time that could be spent more joyfully.

Back to PitchWars

Like I said earlier, I submitted to PitchWars.  As you probably expect, I received no requests for partials or fulls, and of course I didn’t get accepted into the program.  Fine – I think it was a long shot anyway.

But then one of the mentors I submitted to had a blog post that said no requests in PitchWars meant you were barking up the wrong tree.  That maybe you should rethink whether or not you’re ready.  If your book didn’t get any requests, it’s probably a bad book – write something new.

I wasn’t, obviously, even in the top fifth of submissions.  After all this work, where was I going? What was worse was that all of my betas and alphas except one had pretty good feedback.  Most of the bad feedback was contradictory or focused on easily fixable minutiae.  One beta reader, though, seemed not to enjoy it.  I updated based on their suggestions, but a couple things from that read are dangling still. I don’t think it possible to fix the issues without destroying the plot. The story is, if that reader was correct, irreconcilable.

So that blog post in combination with my last beta reader’s feedback was pretty rough.  TMD is my 18th novel.  Just ‘write another one’ isn’t good enough advice for me right now.  I realized that, on top of my day job, blogging, and taking care of just general life crap, dealing with that rejection might just be unnecessary.  I may be one of those writers you see who is actually terrible but chooses to believe in a delusion (please let me know if that’s true).  If, after 18 novels and what I consider to be a prodigious amount of self-guided study, I am still pumping out garbage, I should probably alter my hobby’s outlook.

But wait! There’s more!

I still really like pumping out that garbage, though.  And, you know, I’m about 2/3 the way through a new novel.   It’s working title is ‘Redneck Spider’ and is about a bunch of rednecks who find and decide to keep a giant spider that had been secretly created by the government.  The story begins after these white trash folks are discovered, arrested, and safely housed in a secret facility in northern Nevada (Tom Darby has invaded my psyche, I swear). The story is told through a series of interrogation flashbacks and interviews conducted by ‘the interrogator.’

Anyway, it’s a really weird tale.  I don’t know where it’s headed or what I will do with it.

Looking for Critique Partners

I would like to start a serious writing and critique club.  If you have stuff you want to share with critique partners, I am game for a swap.  I am also game to hold an online critique club, if I can get participants.  Comment below if you’re interested.

I’d like to thank Marnie Heernan for her encouragement and E. Kathryn for being so open about the self-publishing process!