In the 1970s and 1980s, Howard Waldrop's disorientingly strange/familiar stories made him a famous unknown writer.
They racked up best-of-the-year inclusions and award nominations, sometimes several stories a year in different categories. "Custer's Last Jump" and "Mary Margaret Roadgrader" were nominated for the Nebula in 1977. In 1980, "The Ugly Chickens" captured both the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award, and narrowly evaded the Hugo. In 1983, "Ike at the Mike" was up for the Hugo. In 1986, two Waldrop stories, "Flying Saucer Rock and Roll" and "Heirs of the Perisphere," were nominated for the same Nebula award, placing hardcore Waldrop fans in a schizophrenia-inducing double-bind.
Amid such celebrity, Waldrop himself continued to live below poverty level, volunteering for a top-secret study that helped determine the nutritional limits of using integrity as hamburger helper. As part of this historic experiment, he once pulled a story that had already sold to a big-bucks market in order to place it elsewhere for half the price.
Occasionally stories slipped through to higher-paying markets -- Playboy, Omni, and the like. Howard compensated for these lapses of vigilance by selling his books only to very-high-quality small presses or to publishers who could be counted on not to distribute them.
Award nominations kept racking up: 1987, "The Lions are Asleep This Night," for the Nebula. 1988, "Night of the Cooters" for the Hugo. 1989, "Do Ya, Do Ya Wanna Dance" for the Nebula, and 1990, "A Dozen Tough Jobs," for the same.
And now, SFF.NET, bless its heart, has brought Howard Waldrop to the World Wide Web. So thanks to the wonders of cyberspace, to Howard's uniquely contrarian marketing savvy, and to his inability to keep his stories off the awards short-lists, Howard Waldrop is now a legendary unknown writer.