09 November 2011
And here's where I announce my deal with Raw Dog Screaming Press!
It gives me great pleasure to announce the beginning of a beautiful collaboration between Raw Dog Screaming Press and myself.
This partnership promises to be different than many of the hook-ups between writers and publishers you are familiar with. It is an attempt to move away from some of the mistakes made by the bigger houses, and toward a concept that benefits publishers, writers and readers in a variety of ways. During my meeting with Jennifer and John from Raw Dog I got the impression that my independence was as important to them as my prose, and it’s because they are publishers who earned a long string of successes by doing things their way and nurturing the kind of authors they love to read. (Mike Arnzen, Jeff VanderMeer, Elizabeth Massie—the list goes on.)
Raw Dog represents what’s best about the new face of publishing. They adhere to the Gen X ethos of pursing passion and individualism over corporate culture, which means they believe in what they’re doing. They’re risk-takers in a time when big publishers are playing it safe. Raw Dog reminds me of record labels like Sub Pop (which began as an extension of a fanzine) who chased music rather than receipts. Nirvana didn’t stand a flipping chance against Poison for a record deal with a major label in 1989. Yet Sub Pop helped kill corporate hair-metal pop because they didn’t try to change Nirvana, or tell Kurt, “You need more songs about deodorant.” And if you don’t get why that matters in today’s publishing culture, you probably don’t understand why Raw Dog’s so important to writers like me. (Or maybe you just liked Poison a whole lot better than you ever liked Nirvana. Every rose has its thorn, right?)
Amazon fueled the rise of independent authors the way MySpace gave unknown--but awesome--bands a level playing field. Music hasn’t been the same since. And now it’s publishing’s turn.
Jeff Gordinier, author of X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft but Can Still Keep Everything From Sucking, believes Gen Xers became a real force for meaningful change when we started to hit our 40s. Perhaps the changes we are now seeing in publishing reflects that. I mean, Gen X is already fixing a political landscape fashioned by the Boomer reaction to September 11th. Gen X is tackling an environment mired by oil spills and melting ice. (Thanks, again, Boomers.) Why shouldn’t we go after publishing the same way?
Gen X grew up with Reagan and the Cold War, but Stephen King and RED DAWN more than made up for it. We had to deal with Menudo and The New Kids on the Block but ended up with Public Enemy and Rage Against the Machine. We’re used to waiting--we had to watch the Boomers grow up before we could. (I like Springsteen, too.) But while waiting, we learned how to snatch opportunity out of the hands of those who’d misplace or undervalue it. Many writers are missing some of those opportunities today. Look at who's doing promotion in social media, for instance.
Raw Dog and I share the sense that promoting is just as important as writing, and can be just as rewarding when you foster real relationships both online and face-to-face. The Big Six Houses tend to go after sure things. Raw Dog and I tend to prefer ‘the alternative,’ and our tastes have forced us to innovate.
They’ve asked me for five books—The Devil and Preston Black, which many of you may already be familiar with; Hellbender and All Saints, which I finished at Seton Hill; The Gospel of Preston Black which I will begin writing in 2012; and an unnamed fifth book. I met with them over the weekend and they inspired me the way a good general does his troops—I’d give blood for them because they believe in what they are doing. And I believe they have the same faith in me, which was all I could hope for when I put Preston out there for the world to see.
And here’s what I want my fellow writers to understand—I didn’t self-publish because I was afraid of the industry, or weak-willed, or an impatient writer. I did it because I knew my stuff kicked ass. And I knew, by putting it out there, it would find a home. So if you are thinking about doing it—do it. Don’t wait for an agent to give you permission to publish. You may wait forever.