Saturday, April 29, 2017

I SAW THE FUTURE AT WINDY CITY PULP CON

by Len Levinson

I live in a small town (population 3000) way out here on the great American prairie.  Therefore I have little contact with the wider world of publishing although I’ve written 83 published novels to date.

Last Sunday (4/23) I attended the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention in a Chicago suburb called Lombard, and became aware of the future of fiction publishing.  Many of you probably have come to this awareness already, but it was a major revelation for me.

I realized that there is a huge, growing indie publishing movement fully underway, and has come into being because traditional publishing has narrowly focused on conventional “safe” fiction, and tends to reject anything new, weird, crazy or bizarre.

This policy has left a huge vacuum now being filled by the new indie press which operates under a different business model.  They don’t have offices in Rockefeller Center in NYC like Simon and Shuster.  They operate out of home offices, barns or other low-cost spaces.  Everything is handled over the internet.  And they don’t pay advances.  Authors receive royalties only, as in the early days of publishing.  And they produce GREAT eye-catching covers that are works of art on their own.

During the convention I spoke with Ron Fortier, publisher and editor-in-chief of one of the larger indie publishers, Airship 27.  He said that famous authors sometimes call him about books of theirs that were rejected by their usual publishers, because those books were considered too far out.  But nothing is too far out for today’s indie publishers who market, among other items, novels about vampire cowboys, lesbian werewolves from Mars, hard boiled crime fiction, other action-adventure novels including traditional Westerns, and all kinds of sci-fi, fantasy and sword and sandal fiction.  They also publish new novels about characters in the public domain such as Sherlock Holmes.  It’s called “the New Pulp Movement."

I also spoke with Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, which also is a major indie publisher marketing hundreds of titles.  He told me that the big five publishers are buying up some indie publishers, because they can see where the business is going.  But Tommy isn’t interested in selling out.  His main interest is exciting new fiction.

Evidently there’s a whole new publishing world out there of which I was unaware, although some of my old books have been republished by indie publishers such as Piccadilly, Destroyer and Blackstone.  But I never realized how important this New Pulp Movement is becoming.  It is wildly creative, fully energized and intensely ambitious, the new kid on the block fighting for a bigger slice of the pie.  The welcome result is more choices for readers, and hopefully more income for writers.