Friday, June 10, 2011

PATHS TO PUBLICATION: Lee Allen Howard

PATHS TO PUBLICATION

As part of the virtual book tour for Many Genres, One Craft, I have more contributor interviews this week: Teffanie Thompson White, David J. Corwell, Adrea L. Peters, and Lee Allen Howard.

See which path Lee took to publication:
My first “audiobook,” I never heard myself—but I heard of it. It was actually a public reading of my first short story.

As a creative exercise in second grade, Teacher had her pupils write a story. “Be as creative as you can be, children.” I penned—penciled, rather—my debut horror fiction on a ruled school tablet. Teacher, ostensibly pleased with her prodigy’s genius (more likely concerned with a tow-headed eight-year-old’s mental health), passed my work to the elementary school principal. (“Children, ‘principal’ ends with P-A-L—the principal is your PAL.” Keep reading, and then decide...)

Unknown to me, Principal Sprunger, also the president of the local Lions Club chapter in Berne, Indiana, read my story to the men of our little Swiss community and then in good humor fined my father a dime because the preacher’s son had written such an awful tale full of skeletons, witches, and blood.

That is the story of money first changing hands in relation to my fiction. (That dime never found its way into my pocket. If it had, I would have biked down to the White Cottage and bought myself a small soft serve cone, for sure.)

I continued to write through elementary and high school. The Brookville, Pennsylvania, Jeffersonian Democrat newspaper printed our school newsletter, for which I’d written a grisly Halloween story. They decided to reprint it in the paper. This should have overjoyed me, but they printed it anonymously and didn’t pay me for it, either. Bastards.

I placed a short story and some poetry in Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s New Growth Arts Revue. I stopped writing for a few years, but started again when I envisioned a scene about a young man who had been shot in the stomach and stumbled into an alley to die. I developed this into my first suspense novel for the Christian market, When the Music Stops, long out of print.

After completing my master of arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, I entered the publishing arena and compiled a trade paperback anthology of shorts based on the Ten Commandments. Thou Shalt Not... came out in 2006. It’s a great collection of horror and dark crime. Check it out.

I’ve placed a few short stories for pay in the past decade, but after hundreds of rejections, I recently decided to take a different route.

One of the reasons I’ve had trouble in placing my work, especially novels, is because they don’t cleanly fit into a genre slot. Why is this important? Because brick-and-mortar bookstores need to know where to shelve a book. So part of the writing-for-print-publication process is writing for a shelf spot. (And length requirements in genre fiction in part are based on how many books will conveniently fit in a cardboard carton for shipping.) I think that’s just ridiculous.

I had been working on a novel proposal for Dorchester Publishing/Leisure Books. But after the debacle with their selling ebooks without remunerating authors, I stuffed that idea down the disposal. In a nutshell, since second grade, I’ve learned that publishing by the traditional route is inorganically restricted and highly improbable. The royalties paid (if they pay)… well, suck. The emperor is buck nekkid.

So I recently published my second novel, The Sixth Seed for Kindle and Nook ereaders. It cost me nothing to post it on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com, and I’m already selling downloads at a 70% royalty. And I can add as many meta tags as I want with no concern for a shelf spot or how I will otherwise categorize “a dark paranormal fantasy fraught with suburban Pittsburgh horror.” It’s still a great read, and no trees died.

If somebody offers me a great print deal, I’ll consider it. But from now on, I plan to trek the electronic path.

--Lee Allen Howard

Lee Allen Howard has been a professional writer in the software industry since 1985. Besides editing fiction and non-fiction, he does editing and layout for health and fitness professionals. Lee writes horror, erotic horror, dark fantasy, and crime. His publication credits include Cemetery Sonata anthology, Out newspaper, Thou Shalt Not... anthology, and Amber Quill Press. Lee also writes about metaphysical and consciousness issues on his blog at http://buildingthebridge.wordpress.com. You can also visit him at http://leeallenhoward.com.

Lee is a contributor to Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction, a writing guide edited by Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller and based on the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction graduate program.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your path, Lee.

    With the recent changes to the industry that e-pubbing has brought, I believe we'll have a better atmosphere for both writers and readers--certainly more selection!

    -Heidi

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hehehe Lee your path was fraught with double-dealing.

    Good luck with the e-publications!

    :-)

    ReplyDelete