40K began following me on Twitter. But before I returned the compliment, as I usually do I had a look to see what they are all about. 40K describes itself as an epublisher that specialises in publishing original short works. By ‘short works’ it means novelettes and essays, things that take 40 minutes to an hour to read. This has arisen because short stories and essays tend to get overlooked by traditional publishing houses, but they an equal right to be read.
I studied the short story as an undergrad at Oxford and I have to confess I never warmed to the genre. I felt such works of literature had hardly got going before they stopped. Too much was left unsaid. Now, I have as good an imagination as the next person so I was quite capable of filling the gaps, but that sort of DIY literature didn’t appeal.
But essays are a different matter. These don’t leave large holes. These are short because they’re strongly focused and concentrated. You may not agree with them, but you can admire the tight writing that has gone into them.
40K sells books in the following genres: essays for creative life including Any Fool can Write a Novel but it takes a Real Genius to Sell it, which is one I have to read; essays on authoring in the digital age, and fantasy, literary, sci-fi and steampunk short stories. Steam-what? Steampunk is a genre of sci-fi writing. It’s essentially Victorian sci-fi. The best description I’ve come across of it is here. Gibson and Sterling’s The Difference Engine is a prime example of the genre.
The publications have a very distinctive, modern look to them, as the cover at the top of this post shows.
So, this looks like an interesting publisher. I will definitely try out a few of their books. I’m open to reassessing my views of short stories. Who knows, maybe I’ll learn to love the novelette after all.