Angry Robot Books to Join Osprey Publishing

Yeah, yeah, yeah:  the following press release would have been posted sooner but it took me a while to get my blog fixed.  Let me begin by saying that THIS WASN’T MY FAULT!  And I’ll also begin by giving you the upshot on what this means for the U.S. release of my novels.  Here are the new release dates:

King Maker – US: October 2010
King’s Justice – UK: February 2011; US: March 2011
King’s War – UK: November 2011; US – tbc but similar


Angry Robot Books to Join Osprey Publishing
Leading Non-Fiction Publisher Acquires Specialist Sci-Fi Fiction & Fantasy Imprint

Following an acclaimed first year of publishing, the revolutionary science fiction imprint Angry Robot Books has parted company with Harper Collins UK. It will now run as an independent publishing imprint, with the full backing of niche publishing experts, Osprey Publishing.
Angry Robot will continue to operate from its Nottingham office with its existing team under Marc Gascoigne, its founder and publisher. Marc said:

“With the support of Harper Collins UK, my team and I have worked very hard on Angry Robot since it was started in July 2009. We have a great publishing programme in place and a dedicated bunch of fans, the Robot Army, as well as some excellent sales of our first titles in the UK with an imminent launch into the USA. We are very pleased to have become part of the burgeoning Osprey empire. They understand our business and the enthusiasts who drive it.”

Chris Michaels, HarperCollins Digital Publisher, Fiction/Non-Fiction, who helped set-up Angry Robot, said:

“Having helped build the foundations for a successful future, we are delighted that the Angry Robot team has found a new publishing partner in Osprey. We believe this will help them develop their niche offering, supported by Osprey’s specialist sales and marketing teams.  We wish them good luck for the future.”

Marc Gascoigne added, “Our publishing programme for 2010/11 will be basically unaffected by these changes. There will be a short break while the transition is sorted out, but we will be re-launching in September 2010 and then it will be business as usual.”
Osprey’s move is a reflection of the company’s continuing strategic drive into niche communities that share a deep enthusiasm for their interest or hobby, whether it be military history (Osprey Publishing), heritage (Shire Books), or science fiction and fantasy. Richard Sullivan, Marketing Director at Osprey commented:

“We have a great deal of experience of serving specialist niches with a very tight product focus. Angry Robot is a great fit with our existing businesses. We are very excited about the opportunity to enter into a new market and we are looking forward to helping Angry Robot, its authors and its readers go to some exciting places.”

Osprey’s investors are also looking at this as a significant step in the overall plans for the company. Rebecca Smart, Managing Director of Osprey commented:

“We were very impressed with the Angry Robot business plan and forecast, and thought it was an excellent strategic fit for the Osprey group. We’re delighted to welcome the Angry Robot team.”

For Further Details Contact
At Angry Robot: Lee Harris, +44 (0) 792 635 493, lee.harris@angryrobotbooks.com
At Osprey: Richard Sullivan, +44 (0) 186 581 1304 ; richard.sullivan@ospreypublishing.com
At HarperCollins: Chris Michaels, +44 (0) 208 307 4114, chris.michaels@harpercollins.co.uk

About Angry Robot
Angry Robot Books is a global science fiction, fantasy and horror imprint dedicated to delivering innovative books in all formats everywhere. A strong online presence and an army of fans ensure that Angry Robot delivers the best in contemporary and cutting-edge fiction.  To find out more, visit the Angry Robot website www.angryrobotbooks.com

About Osprey Publishing and Shire Books
Osprey Publishing is the leading publisher of illustrated military history. Over 1,500 titles in print provide a definitive resource for both established military enthusiasts and a wider audience with a general interest in military history. In 2007 Osprey bought Shire Books, the leading publisher for an eclectic range of titles on all aspects of heritage and nostalgia.  To find out more, visit the Osprey website www.ospreypublishing.com and the Shire website www.shirebooks.co.uk

About HarperCollins
With a heritage stretching back nearly 200 years, HarperCollins is one of the world’s foremost English-language publishers, offering the best quality content right across the spectrum, from cutting-edge contemporary fiction to digital hymnbooks and pretty much everything in between.  Today we publish some of the world’s foremost authors, from Nobel prizewinners to worldwide bestsellers.
To find out more, visit the HarperCollins website www.harpercollins.co.uk

Interview with Coach Culbertson

I had a chance to catch up with the uber-busy Coach Culbertson of Relief: A Christian Literary Expression as well as, of special interest to me as a horror writer, Coach’s Midnight Diner.

What is Relief and how does it relate to the Midnight Diner?

Relief: A Christian Literary Expression (often just called Relief Journal) is currently a bi-annual literary journal that publishes literary fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. In our first reading submission period back in 2006, we received a lot of great genre submissions, but the editorial team thought that Relief should remain literary in scope. So instead, we decided to launch Coach’s Midnight Diner, a genre anthology made up of hardboiled genre works with a Christian slant. Both publications have an uncensored edge.

What do you see as your mission? How would you describe it?

We started Relief and the Diner after my wife and I both left the inner city where we taught high school. Kimberly wanted to be able to write about our experiences at the high school, but the question quickly became, “Where would it get published?” There were way too many amazing interactions with God for her stuff to be published in the secular markets, and way too much reality that shouldn’t be censored as it would diminish the power of God’s interactions with the students we took care of. So we ended up creating a venue for writing that falls in the gap between the Christian publishing markets and secular publishing markets.

Christian writing has long since been criticized as being too censored, too fluffy, lacking in artistic excellence, and way too preachy. We wanted to create an outlet where authors can have the freedom just write the damn story–to practice excellent craft, use authentic dialog (not – “gee whiz, Beav, what are we going to do with all this swell crack? Oh fiddlesticks, they just busted a cap in my rear end.” ) have characters talk about and have sex (and yes, Song of Solomon is not just symbolic–it really is about sex), wrestle with doubts and huge questions, interact with God, all in an authentic and real fashion.

Life is messy, rough, and difficult. It’s also wondrous, amazing, and sublime. Our writing should reflect reality, not sugarcoat it. No one lives in a “perfect” world, and neither should our words. We bridge the gap for writers who want to write real stories, poems, and creative nonfiction about real characters in real situations with a real God, without compromising the work’s integrity.

How hard is it living in the tension between ministry, art, and commerce?

Overall, the Relief and Diner projects have met with a very warm reception. So many authors and readers have said, “Oh wow, what a relief,” (pun intended, once they discover what we’re about. We find that overall Christians and non-Christians find a sense of understanding and acceptance when they read our books. They feel like they can breathe again.

We have yet to be condemned to hell or called the whore of Babylon, so I guess that’s good. Issues of Relief and the Diner have been known to show up in church libraries occasionally. Every once in a while we’ll get a standard “Oh, Christians shouldn’t write like the world,” or “All Christians should only write so the lost can get saved” argument, but not very often. We publish the kind of stuff that hits people where they really live, and that’s the artistic impact we’re out to make.

The commerce side is a little more difficult. Most people don’t know what a literary journal is, and many Christians think that a Christian horror story is an oxymoron. So we have a small, loyal audience at this point in time who appreciates what we’re doing, but I still have to reach into my own pocket every once in a while to pay the tab when sales are sucking. The economic downturn doesn’t help, but we’re making it through anyway.

We’re a 501c3 nonprofit, and part of the reason we can continue to exist is that the Relief and Diner communities pony up dollars to make these projects possible. Nobody’s making any money on this deal, our staff is completely volunteer, including me, which does make it a little easier to stretch the dollars way further than they might stretch in a different company.

Where do you see yourself in the genre/marketplace?

I see the Diner and Relief as a launching pad for authors (and editors and cover artists, etc.) who write brilliant unrelenting works who have very few (if any) outlets for it. We’re in the small press/micropress segment. But an interesting bit of trivia: we have editors from both big Christian publishing houses and big secular publishing houses on our customer and subscriber lists.

What sort of stories are you looking for?

I’ve actually hung up my spatula and retired from my position as Head Fry Cook of the Diner. Michelle Pendergrass now has the keys to the Diner as the new Editor-In-Chief (or Midnight Waitress, if you will), so that question might be better asked to her and the team for the 3rd Diner. But I can tell you that the team will be looking for stories of horror, crime, and the paranormal that do not suck. Michelle just posted up the specs for the next Diner up on http://www.themidnightdiner.com, so go take a look.

Who would you like to see submit to you? Beginning writers? Pro/name writers?

Ummm, I’d say Michelle and the Diner team will looking for (italics)good(italics) writers. Name recognition doesn’t mean much when it comes to what we publish. It’s nice when we get a well-known name on the menu, but as a company, writers who are starting out have just as much of a chance to get published as the “big names.” It’s about writing a great story.

Writers who think that every word they write are drops of God’s holy grace to the world, however, need not submit. We’re looking for authors who are easy to work with, and understand that “the relationship between editor and author is sacrosanct” (thanks to Relief author Anthony Connelly for that statement).

Some might see the midnight diner as somewhere between a 4theluv type market (paying writers in exposure) and a semi-pro (with 5 cents/word being the demarcation between pro and semi-pro). Could you explain the thought process behind your policy of paying a few writers vs. giving all an equal, if only token, payment?

It’s not so much a thought process as it is a matter of economics. Hell, I’d love to pay every author a hundred bucks or more for their work, but that’s not a feasible option with our current financial situation. The Horror Writers Association requires a paid publication of at least $70, so great authors like Kevin Lucia who are just starting out can get their foot in the door, so we can at least help a couple folks take another step in their careers per issue. I didn’t really plan that initially, I just wanted to get people to write Jesus Vs. Cthulhu stories, but it was a nice side effect.

How do you see yourself growing
in the market place and building your base audience? Where would you like to be 5 years from now?

5 years from now, I’d like to be sipping margaritas in Cancun on a beach for a living, but seeing that’s probably not going to be the case, I’d like to see the Diner be the go-to publication for new talent and fresh writing, an almost sure-fire ticket to furthering an author’s career.

But largely, the future of the Diner will be in the hands of the new team. I’ve built the sandbox, with the help of Vennessa Ng, Mike Duran, Melody Graves, Adrian Rivero (the cover artist for the 2nd Diner), Robert Garbacz, Matt Mikalatos, and of course Relief’s Editor-In-Chief (who also happens to be my lovely wife) Kimberly Culbertson, but now it’s time for other folks to play in it. The Diner’s in good hands with Michelle at the grill.

What story have you put out that you’re the most proud of?

Damn, that’s a good question. Just the fact that we’ve put out the Diner at all is a miracle, and the fact that the quality has been so high has been due to the fact that there’s Christian and non-Christian authors who have been willing to go to that place of tough symbolic reality with me. So I’m going to cop out and say all of them.

When can we expect the next volume?

Michelle and her new crew (which is also made of some of the old Kitchen Staff as well) plan on getting the next one out sometime next year, I think. Watch http://themidnightdiner.com and http://www.reliefjournal.com for news about it.

[BIB/ReadersRoom] Our Bi-Directional Assumption of Trust

When a publisher of any repute buys a book from you, it’s a bi-directional assumption of trust. The author trusts that the publisher will do their best to edit, publish, and market your title. The publisher trusts that the author will do their very best to see that their book is a success by taking it on themselves to do a respectable amount of self-promotion.

We tend to forget that when we get published, we writers join with our presumptive publishers in a peculiar relationship, this “bi-directional assumption of trust”. There are certain things I want the publisher to do for me, the things I might not necessarily be capable of doing for myself (or which they can do better) as we partner in the promotional efforts for our project. Because, indeed, my book becomes “our” book, as their advance indicates an investment in me/it.

Small press or large press, when you are considering who to go with as a publisher (especially if you are weighing the traditional route vs. self-publishing) there are several things you want to consider. Better said, there are certain things you want the publisher to do for you.

Here are some of the things I expect from my Publisher (even small press ones):

-distribution (my book into as many venues as possible)
-getting my book into libraries
-getting my book into book clubs (especially not forgetting urban book clubs)
-trade advertising (Weird Tales, Cemetery Dance, Shroud, Publisher’s Weekly, etc)
-press releases (Gila Queen, FearZone, Weird Fiction News, Hellnotes, HorrorWeb, etc.)
-advertising on book specialty web sites (CushCity is a site recently brought to my attention)
-full support on the publisher’s web site (you think would be a given, yet …)
-sending out review copies
-in house street team efforts (for instance, message board announcements)
-tip in sheets, bookmarks, postcards, and other promotional materials.

Basically, I want to see that I’m being taken seriously as a product. On my end, I tend to bring my marketing plans to the table so that the publisher knows what to expect from me. Even when I publish with the small press, I put in the work:

-I will make convention appearances, schmooze and do signings
-I specifically target black bookstores with my marketing efforts
-I give full platform support (my blog, FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter)
-I personally send out review copies (again, with a focus on black reviewers and places my publisher my have missed/not thought about)
-I do podcasts and interviews.

Ultimately, it’s about protecting your brand. And yes, cries of the struggling artist aside, you are a brand. One that deserves to be treated specially and promoted seriously, by you and your publisher.