Publishing Challenge!

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See Chapter 2 here

Chapter 3

Today is publication day for Flash Fiction: five very short stories. This is a collection of short stories that all run to under 1,200 words each, including two very, very short stories.

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The reason I lumped five together is because one of the distributors doesn’t like anything less than 10,000 words. That was fine, I just omitted them from there once I’d worked it out. But then Amazon rejected The Girl on the Bench for being too short, despite everyone else (apart from the >10,000 words one) accepting it.

I had it fixed in my head that The Girl on the Bench was also under 1,200 words, but when I came to add it to Flash Fiction 1, I saw that it was actually 1,300 words. So I went into my master folder and changed all of the names of all of the short stories to include the word-count.

Meanwhile, I’d published Dancing on Ice. But when I added the word-count to that file name, it was 1,200 words. And I thought, Hang on a minute! Amazon have published this one.

So I checked, just to make sure, before I fired off the query. Sure enough, Amazon did apparently reject The Girl on the Bench for being ‘too short’, and yes, Dancing on Ice was shorter and had been accepted by them.

I fired off an email asking the aggregator to investigate and they replied saying they’d forwarded my message and it was in Amazon’s hands now. Then, very quietly, Amazon did indeed accept The Girl on the Bench.

That made me very happy, because there were 8 books in the series (there are now 9…) and this one was missing from Amazon. And now I know to question it if it happens again.

Ten days’ notice

On Friday I prepared The Mystery of Woolley Dam for publication, but when I selected 17 January as the publication date, I had an error message pop up saying I needed to publish it 10 days in advance in order to get the pre-orders up and running in the partner distributors.

That was a bit of a nuisance, but at least I knew now. So I went down my Asana project management and made sure that I have ‘prepare & publish’ tasks for each of the books at least 11 days in advance. Then, however, I noticed that I only had the 10-day notice if I didn’t upload the file with the words in. So I think that might be set up for work that hasn’t been uploaded yet but where the covers are ready.

Personally, I’d rather not upload a cover for a story that isn’t ready yet, because you never know what might happen in between then and now, and I do know that some distributors will stop listing your book if you fail to meet a pre-planned publication date. But now I understand how to do it in case I ever want to try that.

I thought about moving all of my tasks again, but then I thought I may as well stick to the 11 days to make sure I do it in time. Some of the distributors take much longer than that to list the books, with one or two taking several months. So the earlier I get them up there, the better.

This is good, because now I have an extra layer of structure in the plan, and it gives me more notice of how long I have when I’ve not yet written the story concerned. A regular Wednesday job now is to prepare the book that’s coming out in 12 days time (another extra day for a safety net), so any new stories have to be proof-read by then.

If I know I won’t have the opportunity to publish anything newly written on the Wednesday 12 days before they’re released, then I’ll choose a pack of stories already written and complete, and I’ll set them to publish a week apart from each other.

Words Worth Reading

In the next few weeks, there are several books in the schedule that aren’t yet written:

  • Words Worth Reading: Issue 2
  • Red Roses
  • The Phoenix Lights
  • The Fool

Words Worth Reading is a collection of fiction plus 4 book reviews. Red Roses is going to be the cover story of the next issue while The Phoenix Lights is the other topical story in this issue.

These two stories will also be coming out as standalone Wordsworth Shorts – if they’re longer than 1,200 words – I’m going to keep to that minimum length in future, I think. If they’re shorter than 1,200 words, they’ll go in another flash fiction collection.

I was going to write The Two of Wands for Issue 2 of WWR as the series episode, and I advertised it in Issue 1. However, as The Ace of Cups is already to first draft and The Two of Wands isn’t, I’ve changed my mind. Also, The Two of Wands gives away some of the back story too soon for the complete novella I also have to complete for WWR2, The Fool.

All of this new material needs to be written and I’ve started by brainstorming and outlining Red Roses and The Phoenix Lights. I already have a draft of The Fool ready, so I’ll be working on that as well over the next few days.

So that’s two new short stories, a series instalment (as opposed to a serial), and a complete novella that I have to write, as they are currently not done. I also select an older story from the archives (it’s going to be Careful What You Wish For for WWR2), as well as an instalment of my novel serialisation (currently Part 2 of Night Crawler).

Knowing that WWR2 will be published on 31 January gives me a structure to work to for those unwritten stories. I work backwards from the publication date to the preparation date (12 days), then I work backwards again for each of the drafts, including brainstorming and outlining.

And that tells me when to start writing the new material for WWR.

I’ve already planned when the next three issues of WWR will be published, or thereabouts. The next thing then is to find two story ideas that are topical that I can write from scratch, and I do that using my date work exercise, or by just seeing what’s topical when it’s due out.

For example, the next issue of WWR should be out in April. There might be a story in there called April Showers or April Fool, but I’ll also look at topics for the following two months as well, because the following one won’t be out until July.

For May, then, I might write a story about faeries, or I might write a story for June about a wedding. Then the story from the archives will fit in with the month I don’t have a story for. If I write a May-themed story, the story from the archives might be a story I already have about a wedding in June or the summer.


All of this will eventually stock my magic bakery or my magic book shop or whatever you want to call it. The ‘magic bakery’ is a term that Dean Wesley Smith has coined. The magic bakery is mentioned in the introduction and Smith is mentioned in Chapter 1. I’ll probably cover both in more detail in the future.

All of the short stories above 1,200 words will be reproduced as Wordsworth Shorts, and any stories under 1,200 words will be bundled together in a themed flash fiction collection. Eventually, they will all also be included in themed collections, whatever the length.

I already have covers for some of the themed collections, but some of them may not be out until next year’s publishing schedule. Here are three I’ve been playing with. I’m trying to give them their own look and feel while also keeping them on brand (colours and fonts).

Over to you…

Do you have any questions so far? How is your publishing challenge going so far?

Publishing Challenge: out in 2023