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August 17th, 2006

Thinking about collections again

Every once in a while someone will ask me when I'll have a collection of my short fiction, and my answer is always something like, "I'm not ready yet."

But then I'll hear about somebody who has published far fewer stories than I have coming out with a collection, and I start to re-think it.

But then...I think about somebody like my friend Roberta. Roberta was one of the seminal female horror authors of the '80s/'90s; her classic "Goodbye, Dark Love" is quite possibly the most cathartic horror story ever written (and if that phrase doesn't make sense to you, read the story - it will). She had/has a unique voice, and set a pretty high standard for all us darkchicks who came after. You'd think a collection of Roberta's work would've sold like hotcakes, right? Except it didn't (and by the way, if you don't own a copy of The Mirror of Night by Roberta Lannes, Shocklines has still got a few signed/limited hardcovers left, so get one now - you won't regret it!). Why didn't it sell, if it was so chockful of amazing fiction? I've always thought that maybe it was because Roberta had never published a novel, and novel sales drive collection sales.

So, I'm thinking, Heck, I don't want a collection that's not going to sell.

But then (again!)...two nights ago I was chatting with faustfatale, and with any luck she'll soon have a collection out (and that's a collection I'd very much like to own, by the way). When I mentioned my misgivings about collection sales to Christa, she responded, "The money's not the important thing. What is important is providing a permanent home for the stories." Which was both very poetic and very practical.

Don't get me wrong - publishers aren't exactly beating down my door to get the rights to my first collection. But I've never tried to pursue it from my end, either. I still think I'd like to wait for that first novel to come out (be it Netherworld or The Castle of Los Angeles or whatever), but it's still a dirty little temptation sitting at the back of my brain all the time...