Tag Archives: novella

Litmags that publish novellas

When they’re hits, everyone loves novellas, those little books that can be read in one or two sittings. With word counts somewhere between a novel and a short story, novellas, with their reputation for poor return on investment, can be misfits for many publishers. It’s not easy to love losing money.

The following publications have identified novellas as their domain, which is quite a generous objective.

The Conium Review

failbetter.com

The Fantasist

Garden Gnome Publications (anthology series)

GigaNotoSaurus

The Long Story

Narrative

Ploughshares Solos

A Public Space

Pulp Literature

The Seattle Review

Straylight Online

Also of interest

Barrelhouse will accept submissions of nonfiction with a word count of 18,000–35,000 until March 1, 2017.

John Fox offers a nice list of chapbook and book publishers, including some literary magazines, that publish novellas.

The Tor.com Novella Program is only occasionally open to submissions.

burlesque

The success of a writer is not based on the number of his readers, but on the quality of his readers

Yesterday, Sébastien Doubinsky shared his thoughts about developing resilience and authenticity as a writer. Today, he’s back to answer two more of my questions.

—Robin

Sébastien Doubinsky

Treated & Released: Sébastien Doubinsky

Robin: Has publishing Le Zaporogue and les Éditions du Zaporogue, the journal and the books, given you a more balanced perspective and helped you to define success as a writer differently than you might have otherwise?

Sébastien: No, actually, I have created both magazine and press to prove my point, which is the fact that “true” writers won’t care about the financial issue—as you know there is absolutely no money involved in Le Zaporogue, as it is a “profit-free” press—what they’ll care about is support, respect, and presentation of their work. To me, the success of a writer is not based on the number of his readers, but on the quality of his readers. Stendhal had only one reader, basically (he sold less than 10 novels during all his life, and two to himself!), but it was Balzac. Who needs 10,000 faceless readers when you have one Balzac to read and admire you?

The people who download and read the Zaporogue books and magazines are people who are specifically looking for new voices. Among them, some publishers—as Jerry Wilson, D. James Eldon, Myriam Gallot, and Sofiul Azam have discovered. All depends on what you put behind the word “success.” Success is not an objective notion—it is a relative notion. If you sell 20,000 copies, it can be either a success or a failure—if you sold 200,000 copies of your preceding book… It’s all a question of perspective. And of personal attitude towards own ambition—so be careful before you blame anyone…

Robin: What would you say to writers who will argue that it’s much easier for you to remain idealistic, now that your books have been well received?

Sébastien: Well, like I said before, I have been published for about 15 years and the new “success” is still very limited, even though it is heartwarming. But I don’t think I am being idealistic. I think I am actually trying to remain realistic. I remember after publishing my third novel with a rather prestigious French press, my editor at the time wasn’t so wild about my fourth book, which was quite experimental. She wanted me to go back to a more conventional form—and I wouldn’t have any of that. So, one day, she invited me for dinner and she told me, in a rather abrupt way, that it wasn’t because they had published three novels of mine that they would necessarily publish all my novels. And I told her that it didn’t matter if they didn’t publish that book, because it wouldn’t stop me from being a writer. So they didn’t publish the book (which was published a couple years later by another company) and I had expressed a statement I am still faithful to.

I really believe that being a writer is much more than being published. It is a state of mind, a part of your personality no one can take away from you. Sure, you should accept editing advice when it is sound (and it often is). But if you have a feeling that your work is being misunderstood and tilted the wrong way, don’t yield, even if it costs you. I am not saying that you should antagonize your agent or your editor—far from it. I myself have remained on good terms with almost all my editors and publishers, and am still in contact with them. But if you are a “real” writer, then you are yourself. That is the hardest part. To admit and understand that there isn’t another one of you, even if you use a pseudonym. You are whole, your life is whole.

Published, or unpublished.

That is why I also advocate realism. One should know his/her “niche,” his/her specificity. Literature is not one big blurred world. It is, quite in a contrary, more like a pharmacy, with thousands of boxes and thousands of labels. You might regret it (like I do) but that’s the truth. So you have to know your label—and even create it if you need to.

Le ZaporogueSo, to finally answer your question, I actually think that being published makes it more difficult to be optimistic than not being published (yet). Most of the disappointment comes after the book is out. That’s the toughest part. The nonexistent reviews, the small reviews in small papers that no one reads, the bad reviews, the excellent reviews that have absolutely no effect on the sales… That’s where you really have to hang on and believe in yourself, no matter what, even if your own won’t lick your hand anymore… You know. You have to trust yourself 100%, because 1) no one else is going to do it for you, 2) you’re the best judge.

Sébastien Doubinsky’s latest books are a novel based on the legend of Billy the Kid, Quién es? (Joëlle Losfeld, 2010), and a trio of novellas in the new weird vein, The Babylonian Trilogy (PS Publishing, 2009). Doubinsky teaches French and French literature at Aarhus Universitet in Denmark and is the publisher of Le Zaporogue, a nonprofit multilingual press that publishes the work of writers all over the world.

The demon you see in front of you is only a manifestation of yourself: A few reflexions about writing and publishing

Sébastien Doubinsky and I corresponded briefly through Facebook after I noticed his multilingual literary magazine, Le Zaporogue. He agreed to be a guest blogger. I asked if he could offer creative writers a few suggestions for coping with the disappointments, the fierce-but-unspoken competitiveness, and other downsides of their chosen profession. I didn’t know what he’d say, but I was sure he’d have a bigger picture, a somewhat clearer perspective, because he wears many hats. Here you have it, my friends, and it’s worth printing and posting beside your keyboard.

—Robin

Quién es?, by Sébastien Doubinsky

Guest blogger:
Sébastien Doubinsky

My name is Sébastien Doubinsky, I am almost 47 years old, I have published 13 novels and four poetry collections, and you have probably never heard of me. OK, most of my novels and poetry were published in France and I live in Denmark, which can explain a lot, but I am not so well known in France either, don’t worry. I have published my first novel at the age of 31 in 1994 and my latest this year. I know what you’re thinking: “So many books and no worldwide recognition—he must be a bitter man.”

Actually—not at all.

Bitterness is the worst feeling a writer can have. Why? Because it isn’t the writer who is really bitter, it is the man or woman behind the writer. It is not you. It is who you think you are.

Writing is a tough decision to make and a tough life to lead. It is a decision that will neither lead to major changes in your life, nor make you rich and famous overnight. You will probably never hit the mother lode and annoy your boyfriend or girlfriend to the point of breaking up. But OK, I guess most of us can live with that. As if we had any choice.

The hardest part of writing today is actually to get rid of the “successful writer’s image.” Yes, they exist and yes, they are lucky. Precisely—and yet, very often, most of the “successful writers” have had all the right connections or support from the start—not to mention those who have understood how the market works and are carefully designing books that precisely match the marketing needs. Bestsellers are designer books. They have (mostly) nothing to do with the “experience” of writing.

Abandon the fake and mediatized image of the “writer” and put the value of your writing in its place. You are telling stories, you are trying to make a difference, you are trying to test the envelope of literature. You are honest. Focus on that and the fact that honesty is not always rewarded. Actually, it very seldom is. If you can accept that, then you are already a writer and nobody can take it from you.

Another illusion is the “publishing” syndrome. To publish is not the end—it is actually, usually, the beginning of the end. A first book is rarely followed by a second one. Publishers won’t really care for you unless you create a selling miracle around you. All they are doing is giving you a chance. It’ll work out well for some of you, but most of you will drown a couple of times. I have drowned many times and am still often half-drowned. The only life buoy you will have is yourself. Nobody else. And yes, it’s okay to be depressed or discouraged.

But you should never be bitter.

The Babylonian Trilogy, by Sébastien DoubinskyYou must know that somewhere you will meet a publisher that will take a chance on your book. Yes, somewhere. But he might not be very big, he might not offer you any money, he might not even be nice or even handsome, but he or she will take the chance. It’s important to know that. It’s the red circle in the middle of the target. But it’s also important to know that to publish is just a moment. It’s an event in your life, like a first date, an anniversary, or a job promotion. Nothing less, but nothing more. Enjoy it to the fullest and move on. Write some more. Maybe get rejected some more. C’est la vie.

There is no shame in keeping your day job. Franz Kafka was an insurance clerk.

At the same time, you should never give up. Trust yourself, without any illusions on the commercial world. Find agents or publishing houses you can relate to. Dump the rest.

If you don’t care for the money, can laugh at yourself and live in a state of permanent revolt, then you’re OK by me. You’re a natural. You’re a writer alright.

Le Zaporogue is a nonprofit multilingual press publishing the work of writers all over the world who do not fit neatly into categories or do not have access to a wide readership. The press was founded by Sébastien Doubinsky, novelist, poet, translator, and professor of French and French literature at Aarhus Universitet in Denmark.

Doubinsky’s newest books are a novel based on the legend of Billy the Kid, Quién es? (Joëlle Losfeld, 2010), and a trio of novellas in the new weird vein, The Babylonian Trilogy (PS Publishing, 2009).

Come back tomorrow to read Doubinsky’s answers to two questions about idealism and perspective.