Tenacity is the key to the submission process. The publishing world is fairly small and is slowly being eaten away by changes in commerce and technology. Even with the advent of e-books, real books prevail to some extent. Traction is hard to come by in self-publishing. One of the problems I have faced is my books in print were previous published making them reprints more or less. Throughout the years, I have continued to push forward with submissions in hopes of a breakthrough for my next wave of material.
Over the last decade I have learned a lot. Every step forward of progress has been achieved with mistakes and lessons learned.
In 2009, I dealt with a vanity press, Wasteland Press, which gave me an introduction to the outskirts of the publishing world with my first novella, Where the Road Roams and with the anthology Dark Lands the following year. I tried to convert those two manuscripts to Kindle in 2010 with disastrous results. The ease of the tech was definitely not there and I shelved that idea for years.
In 2012, I got lucky with the narrow focus of my submissions to gay publishers, and Beau to Beau Publishing picked up The Wild Boys novella on my second attempt. I was excited and spent that summer writing two sequels, Jake’s Tales and Trail’s End which ended up paired as a trilogy. They also asked to reprint the Wasteland Press books, so I ended one phase and started another.
In 2013, I was still in the mind frame to write for the romance market. The problem was that my material was a bit dark and twisted compared to the mainstream and subcategories of the romance genre. That year I published the truly bizarre The Trouble with Furries, a mixture of the underground 90s, gay, nightclub scene and a small fetish subsection of the Furry world. Things were going well in general, but that novel did not do as well as The Wild Boys, being too dark.
My love of horror led me to convert my screenplay of Dolphin Street into an even darker novel, Escape from Dolphin Street. The original manuscript was rejected for being too strong and that was my experience with censorship. The story involves runaway teenagers who meet a gang of street punks with horrific results. I turned in another slightly edited version and still no dice due to the violent content. 2014 went by without a new book. I almost got the interest of a horror publisher. Perhaps the gay protagonist put a nix on it or the beefcake covers of my current releases of the time. The thing with submissions is it can be hard to tell for sure.
In 2015, Escape From Dolphin Street was published after the third edit, five months later then intended from October of the previous year. The situation was the beginning of the end of my relationship with Beau to Beau Publishing. The market was changing, digital content theft was on the rise, and my books—for the most part—were not truly of the romance genre, so we parted ways in the summer of 2016. During this period I continued to submit short stories, screenplays, and another full length novel. A highlight of 2015 was the acceptance of Under the Moonbow to MCB Quarterly Volume 3 for Halloween. It was informative to work with an editor and the finished project lifted my spirits.
I have recounted my self-publishing journey in the past and will only briefly touch on it here. The first pass was during 2017. On January 13th I launched with Anarchy - Strange Tales of Outsiders and my website, davidsharpwriter.com, went online at the start of the year with my DS blog a month later. Then I continued the journey with Wild Boys - A Peculiar Western, Escape from Dolphin Street, and The Trouble with Furries. Revising, formatting, and releasing them—one at a time—roughly every quarter. I dived in and learned the values of Scrivener, Affinity Photo and Design, and later, Vellum to create paperbacks and ebooks.
In 2018, I focused on writing Rebel’s Edge and also got an honorable mention for Timber Tantrum, a screenplay co-written with my late friend, Lee Webster, for The Boobs and Blood International Film Festival.
In 2019, I went back one last time and updated all my previous books inside and out and even published a new paperback of Where the Road Roams as a companion to the existing audiobook. Accolades continued with my short screenplay, Death Tarp, as semi-finalist at two film festivals, The Chicago Horror Film Festival and Horror in the Hills, and the my revised feature-length screenplay for Dolphin Street as a finalist in the South Carolina Underground Film Festival. I also coined a term for my genre, Punk Fiction, which is pulp with a punk attitude.
Now here I am in 2020 playing out the long submission process. I have in rotation, Rebel’s Edge - Suburbia, Lane Bowden 1973 and a short story, The Loner, along with the prior screenplays to agents, publishers, and festivals.
Why I am listing all of this in my leap year blog? I suppose it is to get a sense of accomplishment out of the last decade of writing. There are times when it can seem pointless and so hard to make progress. I have to keep trying, not out of some lame attempt at fame and fortune, but out of the creative journey of wanting to share my work with the world. My writing is dark and twisted with heart and truth in its characters. I think it is important to get a reaction from art. I may not be mainstream, but I have a cult sensibility.
My current project is a cyberpunk novel, Future-Thrill that I am in the midst of writing.
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