The Road to Publication – a guest blog by Tony Ballantyne

Short story collections don’t sell. Everyone in publishing will tell you that.

Every writer who has a few short stories under their belt loves the idea of having them collected into a slim volume.  Unfortunately, very few people are interested in reading them.

Best selling authors have the clout to get their anthologies publised. You can see them smiling in the publicity photographs, delighted to have their precious children are out there in the world. Look closely and you’ll see their agent and editor exchanging glances in the background. They’re waiting for their charge to get it out of their system so they can get back to writing another novel. That’s where the real money is.

And that’s best selling authors. You’d have to be mad to write a short story collection.

I didn’t intend to write Midway. I had an idea for a novel sit in an old cotton mill near where I live. I was working on the preliminary notes when my father took ill. The next six months, the last months of his life, threw everything into turmoil. The mill stories got caught up in my thoughts at the time and became my way of dealing with the situation. I wrote little else that year, but it didn’t matter. Midway was my catharsis. But I finished the book and life moved on.

I wondered at first about seeking publication. The stories were very personal. It was my wife who persuaded me to send them out into the world. As she pointed out, other people had been through the same thing. They might find them helpful.

It turns out she was right. This is the first book I’ve written that my friends have read. By that I mean my non writer friends, my friends who aren’t SF or Fantasy fans. The vast majority of the people I know, in other words.

Of course, my friends have bought my books in the past, but that was just out of politeness. They read the first chapter, but it wasn’t for them.  I don’t have a problem with that, we all have different tastes and interests.

But to my surprise this book connects with many people.  No, not to my surprise. My wife said it first, and she was right. This book is for people who’ve been through the same thing. People who recognise the situations depicted in it.

Someone said to me: this book made me cry. Well, that’s why I wrote it, to try and understand those feelings. I think I understand them better now.

So, the book is out, it’s published. If it sells a hundred copies I’ll be delighted, but it doesn’t matter.

Publication wasn’t the primary aim of this book.

Tony Ballantyne

 Tony Ballantyne is the author of Dream London, the Penrose series and the Recursion series. He has also written many short stories.

Tony grew up in County Durham in the North East of England. He studied Maths at Manchester University before moving to London where he taught Maths and IT.

About Jacey Bedford

Jacey Bedford maintains this blog. She is a writer of science fiction and fantasy (, the secretary of Milford SF Writers (, a singer ( and a music agent booking UK tours and concerts for folk performers ( She's also a Home Office / UK Visas and Immigration department licensed sponsor processing UK work permits (Certificates of Sponsorship).
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