Aphelion Issue 295, Volume 28
June 2024 --
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Flash Writing Challenge
Dan's Promo Page
Cover art

Great news! This has been in the works for a while, but no one was talking about it much for fear that it might not come to fruition. Well, it has finally happened, my friends:

Aphelion Webzine has published its first anthology, via Lulu.com

While my wife and I were at AnachroCon 2 the first weekend of this month, an anthology of flash fiction short stories came out that contains some of the best entries to our monthly Flash Fiction competitions. The book is is called "Flash of Aphelion" and is a Print-On-Demand at Lulu.com and it was edited by our very own Nate Kailhofer. This volume was Nate's brainchild, he did most of the work necessary to make this happen, and he has overcome many obstacles that could have stopped this production in its tracks. Nate deserves a huge round of applause for this undertaking.

Lulu has a good reputation among the writers I know who have used it for their small, specialized projects. This collection falls under the heading of "specialized" quite well. The nice thing about Print-On-Demand is that no one gets stuck with a warehouse full of unsold copies of the book. No, a copy is printed, bound, and shipped only after someone orders it. I've ordered one copy for myself already, and will be getting another one for my Mom and Dad later on. Each month, if the sales have built up to a specific level, Lulu.com sends out a payment to each writer.

That's right, a book exclusively featuring Aphelion writers, for which the writers get paid (a small sum, 10¢) for every copy sold. That's the share for each writer in the collection; one dime per story. I have one story, others have three or four, others have more. There are 70 stories in the book, 236 pages, by 17 writers. It is split up into chapters according to which month's competition for which it was written. My story is in the chapter for the Steampunk-themed competition. Warning: there is only one chapter of steampunk stories, not a whole book of them. OK, a dime per story isn't much but according to the pro writers I asked it does count as a professional sale. That means that several of us who contributed have just made their First Professional Sale! I've been squeeing since I heard the book was in development, but couldn't tell anyone for fear that the deal might fall through. Well, it didn't fall through, Nate has checked the quality of the printing, and it is now available in 6x9 paperback for $18.72 as well as e-book format for $10.99. There will probably be a hardback edition added later. Here is the link to the book's page at Lulu: Flash of Aphelion edited by Nathan Kailhofer.

Thank you for all the hard work, Nate!

In related news, Lyn and I seem to have made a positive impression on the folks who run the steampunk convention in Atlanta, AnachroCon. Lyn has been asked to host a Tea Party at next year's convention. Not the political kind, the hot tea that one drinks. As some of you might already know, in Great Brittan tea is a serious matter. The entire country comes to a halt for the afternoon cuppa. Lyn has long been familiar with the ins and outs of this practice. So the convention chairman personally asked her to undertake a panel devoted to this custom. She's already hard at work on the logistics of providing tea and traditional munchies for a party of 30, or more. It should be a blast!

As for myself, this year I was asked to be on a panel on Steampunk Superheroes. The discussion centered upon books, movies, graphic novels, and so on- Those which used steampunk elements and themes. Also included was a mention of people who make costumes of comic book heroes, but with a unique steampunk flair. The Con Chairman was on the panel, with the cowl and shoulder pieces for his steampunk Batman outfit. Sitting next to him was yours truly, dressed in an outfit that would look natural on a Zorro or Nightshade, if they had been written by steampunk authors. I was asked to explain the details and the idea behind my outfit. Once the crowd learned that I was dressed as a character from my own novel-in-progress, they demanded more information. In fact, they were delighted to hear that I was working on a story that might see print in the future. They were even more delighted to hear the breakdown of how I actually go about writing, the world-building, the crazy little details that I go to in order to add depth and development to my characters. In short, once I started talking about the novel, no one would let me shut up. I think that if I'd had copies of the finished book with me, I could have sold one to everyone attending the panel discussion- Right then and there. The Con Chair was so impressed that he asked me to come back next year and host a panel of my own: "An Hour With Dan Hollifield." I'll also be on another panel or two on other subjects that are near and dear to my personal interests. Rest assured that Aphelion will continue to loom large in anything I talk about!

Which brings me to the real subject of this little editorial: What writers do to promote their work. I've seen it online, I've seen it at conventions, and I've discussed it with pro writers. Friends, writing a book is only part of getting it into the hands of readers. There is a huge amount of self-promotion involved after the book is sold to a publisher. Writers go to Cons to talk about "the book." They do radio and Internet interviews. They go to bookstores and give readings. They sign autographs. Some blog about it online in various forums. Sometimes a newspaper or magazine interview is asked for by print publishers in various media. The publisher lines up publicity appearances, the writer does too. In short, lots of time gets taken up getting the word out that "the book" exists and is available for purchase. That equals a lot of work, sometimes a lot of travel, and a lot of talking. The job doesn't stop when the final draft goes to the publisher. No indeed, shameless self promotion is a respected fraction of making a writer successful. Getting the word out is a big deal, especially for those writers that are just starting out- Those who have just a few, or even just one book published. Part of the marketing is getting out there and promoting "the book." Seanan can tell you more about this than I can. She's involved with it right now. Her insights have appeared in our Features section in her articles on writing. If you haven't read them already, you owe it to yourself to do so as soon as possible. I can promise you that you will learn a lot.

Now I'd probably better shut up and let you get to reading the new issue. There are loads of great stuff on tap this month. Don't skip a single thing. You never know what might turn out to be useful in the future. And please, when you're done, go to the Forums and make some comments. Remember, comments and critiques of the stories is a big part of what Aphelion is all about. Anything and everything that you say about a story can help the writer become better.