On indie press: Michael Pryor

I’ve invited a number of people who have published in indie press and gone on to become professionals in the field to write about their experiences. Today, Michael Pryor shares his experience.

Very early on in my writing career, indie press was vital to me. One of my first short story sales featured in the first issue of Aurealis, which kicked off a long association with that publication. I’ve had nine stories published in Aurealis, two of which picked up Aurealis Award shortlisting. I’ve also done a fair bit of behind the scenes work with Aurealis, working on submissions and story selection, writing articles, carrying boxes and generally helping out. I’ve been an Associate Editor and now I’m one of the three publishers behind the scenes.

This experience has been crucial to my writing career. For a start, it’s let me see behind the scenes of magazine publishing and how it works. I’ve seen the passion and the enthusiasm of all those who work on a small press publication. I’ve seen the hours put in. I’ve seen the keenness of the writers out there, published and unpublished. I’ve seen the joys, the disappointments and the misunderstandings.

All this means that I approach my own writing career with a level of insight. I understand the rejection process and how it works. I know how much time it takes to work through submissions. I jump to it when an editor asks for a rewrite. I adhere to deadlines, because I know of all the concomitant arrangements that are dependent on that story coming in on THAT date and no later. Coming to terms with the concrete demands of publishing emphasised to me that small doesn’t have to mean amateurish. A professional outlook and approach is something that most indie press strive for, so I was determined that as a writer I could do no less.

As genre publishing began to boom, I also had stories published by Wakefield Press, Ford Street Publishing and FableCroft Publishing. Behind each one I saw the people involved and their dedication. It’s both affirming and inspirational to see how they appreciate a good story, and I admire the way they put a collection together.

I firmly believe that it was my track record as a successful writer of short stories that helped my first novel get published. Partly it was the contacts I’d made after breaking out of the ‘unpublished writer’ rank and into the ‘published writer’ rank, but also it was the contacts I’d made once I’d made this step. The people looking at my first novel submission knew who I was, and that never hurts.

Now, twenty-eight novels later, I work with Random House, a major international publisher, but I maintain my contact with the world of indie publishing. Why, just a few weekends ago I was with the other Aurealis people, stuffing envelopes, making sure the mail went out on time…

Michael Pryor is a best-selling author of fantasy for teenagers. He has published over twenty-five novels and more than 40 short stories. He has been shortlisted for the Aurealis Award six times, and five of his books have been CBCA Notable books. His current and new releases include Hour of Need (Laws of Magic 6), published in May this year from Random House, and the first book of his new series, The Extraordinaires, is called The Extinction Gambit and will be released in December, again from Random House.

Find out more about Michael and his works at his website.

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