lost in the noise

At some point in the next 24-72 hours Dog on Fire will be for sale as an e-book through Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. At least that’s the plan.

I’ve published a bit in the analog world; a novel, a few non-fiction books, several short stories. I’ve been included in a few anthologies (including Otto Penzler’s Best American Mystery Stories 1999 and Alfred Hitchcock’s 50th anniversary anthology). I’ve ghosted a number of books for other people. I’ve put out a buttload of words in actual print. But this is the first thing I’ve done specifically for e-publication. (To be accurate, some of the stories in Dog on Fire have already appeared in print, but the stories presented as a collection is something new.)

I think of this as indie publishing. A lot of other folks think of it as self-publishing—which is generally seen as a sort of lower species of publishing. What’s odd is that many of those same folks regard independent cinema as very cool, and they see indie music releases as bold and ballsy. But putting your own writing out there seems to spark a bit of skepticism. There’s that silent but underlying question “What…you can’t get a real publisher to release your work?”

My initial response to this is “Yes, I can, but fuck you very much.”

I have to admit, there’s basis in reality for that skepticism. Technology has made it possible for a LOT of people who couldn’t get published in a traditional venue (and let’s face it, people whose work doesn’t really merit broad publication) to bang out something and put it up for sale on B&N.com and Amazon.com. And a lot of ‘real’ writers will complain—with some justification—that the amount of noise emitted by those folks makes it more difficult for their own work to find an audience.

My initial response to them is “Yes, you’re right, but also fuck you very much.

The democratization of publishing is a good thing, even if it makes it harder for the rest of us to earn a buck. Some people will claim good work will always find an audience—which is completely delusional. A lot of good work will get lost in the noise. The odds are that’ll happen to Dog on Fire too. It’s just the reality of the situation.

And then there are the folks who say something like “But you’re not really doing this for the money anyway.” Want to guess what my initial response is? “I am most certainly doing this for the money, and fuck you very much.” If I sell a short story, I get paid once. If that story gets anthologized, I get paid again. And that’s it. With an ebook collection of short stories, I get paid every time somebody buys it. I get paid less, of course, but the idea is that volume will make up for it. If the ebook gets lost in the noise, that may not work out. But if that happens, the fault doesn’t lie with the noise.

So I consider this something of an experiment. Experiments sometimes fail. Often fail. If this one fails—well, what the hell, I’ll probably try it again. I may be in this for the money, but if money were the primary consideration I’d have a straight job.

14 thoughts on “lost in the noise

  1. I’ll buy it. And I’ll recommend it to someone else I know, who’ll buy it, too. Because, really, who wouldn’t want to read an author who can use fuck you very much with such panache?


  2. I’m not sure what else to add, as you’ve put it all so well. Bit I do love that grungy font you’ve settled for and I’m really looking forward to reading this collection.


  3. I’m considering buying it. I just hope the language is milder than what you used in the above post. I like reading interesting authors, just not vulgar ones.


  4. Thanks everybody. I hope you enjoy the book.

    Don, you have a right to be concerned. I take writing seriously (it’s one of the few things I take so seriously), so I tailor my language to the audience. Many of the stories in the book were written specifically for Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, which discourages overly strong language as a matter of policy. In fact, I had to cut one phrase in one story in order to meet the publication standards of AHMM. However, when that story was included in Otto Penzler’s anthology of Best American Mystery Stories, the phrase was restored. The original phrasing is used in this version.

    I’m not opposed to vulgarity (obviously), but when I use it I use it intentionally. I use it when I think it’s effective and appropriate. Vulgarity has its place, as Shakespeare proved. His writing is full of bawdy jokes and sexual puns–because his audience demanded it. I think any writer who absolutely refuses to engage in vulgarity is depriving himself of an important literary tool.

    So you’d probably be safe reading this book. But you’re wise to be cautious.


  5. Thanks for your response, Greg. I looked on Amazon and B & N yesterday and again just now and I can’t find the book on either. Am I looking in the wrong place or is it not available yet?


  6. Don, the book is available in both places. You can either search under my name (Gregory, not Greg) or you can just click on the link on the cleverly-named ‘books’ menu at the top of this page.


  7. I hate good-byes, especially to good friends, and that’s how I felt about the characters of Dogs on Fire when I finished. Please tell us there’s more of Kevin Sweeney (and Mary Margaret) and Joop Wheeler to look forward to. As someone who was born in WI and grew up in the Midwest, moved and raised a family in NorCal, moved again to Florida and fell hopelessly in love with the South, and am now currently living in SoCal, I particularly enjoyed the portrayal of a Southerner in the Northeast (as well as their reactions to him). The stories are told in a way that you feel as the characters are you’re friends, and you’re chuckling along with them, and considering yourself fortunate to have known them. Just wondering if or when I’ll get the opportunity to use my favorite quote of all: “It’s not like I set….” (you have to read it to hear the rest!)


  8. Read the first story. Nice work. Seems kind of like my writing style, if I were a writer.

    Are you interested in knowing about possible mistakes or typos?


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