For this week’s guest post, I’m pleased to welcome Jason Sizemore, who is (as the title of this post probably indicates) a man of many talents:
Jason Sizemore is a writer and editor who lives in Lexington, KY. He owns Apex Publications, an SF, fantasy, and horror small press, and has been nominated for the Hugo Award three times for his editing work on Apex Magazine. Stay current with his latest news and ramblings via his website and his Twitter feed.
Irredeemable, a collection of 18 dark science fiction and horror stories by Jason Sizemore, was published on May 2nd by Seventh Star Press. To celebrate its release, I asked Jason to write a guest post about how being an editor and publisher affects his writing, and vice versa. Enjoy!
For those who don’t know me, let me backtrack with a brief introduction. I am Jason Sizemore: a hillbilly, software developer, and all around troublemaker. If you’ve heard of me, then it has been through my work as owner and managing editor of Apex Publications. In addition to the book company, I also run and help edit the three time Hugo Award-nominated Apex Magazine.
Being a writer is far down my list of self-perceived talents, right along with being able to shoot free throws with either hand. The reason I’m dismissive of my writing abilities has more to do with how often I use them as opposed to the quality of my work.
Over the past ten years, I’ve averaged about 20,000 words a year. That is a meager five short stories a year. Until late April of this year, I have always told people I wasn’t a writer, but was someone who dabbled in writing.
Then my collection, Irredeemable, came out and now I must admit to being a writer…at least some of the time.
Now, to wrap around back to the original question…what’s it like to be a publisher, editor, and writer?
I’ve heard instances of writers who try to mix freelance editing with freelance writing. They say things like “I can’t focus on the writing because I want to edit everything I write.” While everybody is different, these individuals are probably going to struggle to succeed as a writer. I consider the ability to turn off ‘editor’ mode one of the most important aspects of writing.
My writing process goes like this: outline plot, setting, and characters and then pound on the keyboard until my imagination (or time) is spent. The important thing is to get words on the screen.
It is after I’ve got a first draft is when my editing lizard brain gives me problems. Writer lizard brain wants to try a slightly experimental story structure, or some word play that sounds neat. The editor lizard says “Nuh uh, that’s crap and you know it is wrong. It is making your story weaker.” Who do I listen to in this instance? There are many instances where my writer side and editor side reach an impasse and I’m rendered paralyzed.
Thankfully, this is why writers have beta readers. They’ll let you know what is what.
There is one aspect of being an editor that helps with my writing. It helps me avoid common pitfalls I often see in fiction submitted to the magazine and the book company. It also helps make my prose cleaner. While these two things aren’t going to get my work selected for publication, they certainly help my chances.
Being a publisher doesn’t hurt or help in any perceptible manner. Granted, I’ve been trained not to submit my work at random publications. Submitting to a market that is not suitable for your story wastes your time and the publisher’s time. I do have a working knowledge of current ‘trends’, but not to the point that it helps me make my stories marketable. The biggest advantage (and it isn’t an advantage that’s not available to someone who takes a few minutes to research) I can see is that as a publisher I’m tied into ebb and flow of potential publications and markets. This is mostly due to being well-networked simply because I’ve worked with a lot of other writers and editors over the years.
You know what? To heck with sending submissions for others to judge me by! I’m going to do the one thing a publisher/editor/writer can do better than anybody else…self-publish!
Let the riches roll in…
Flowing like mists and shadows through the Appalachian Mountains come 18 tales from the mind of Jason Sizemore. Weaving together elements of southern gothic, science fiction, fantasy, horror, the supernatural, and much more, this diverse collection of short stories brings you an array of characters who must face accountability, responsibility, and, more ominously, retribution.
Whether it is Jack Taylor readying for a macabre, terrifying night in “The Sleeping Quartet,” the Wayne brothers and mischief gone badly awry in “Pranks,” the title character in “The Dead and Metty Crawford,” or the church congregation and their welcoming of a special visitor in “Yellow Warblers,” Irredeemable introduces you to a range of ordinary people who come face to face with extraordinary situations. Whether the undead, aliens, ghosts, or killers of the yakuza, dangers of all kinds lurk within the darkness for those who dare tread upon its ground. Hop aboard and settle in, Irredeemable will take you on an unforgettable ride along a dark speculative fiction road.
As the owner and publisher of Apex Publications, Jason Sizemore has worked with authors from all levels, bringing the words of both seasoned pros and newbies to the world. With Irredeemable, it’s his turn to step into the shoes of the writer and share his stories.