Category Archives: Submissions

Brick Cave Media, the Challenge and Fun of a Small Press

A guest post by Robert Nelson

Brick Cave Media is a small publisher based in Mesa, AZ. One does not normally think of Mesa Arizona being hub for small publishing, but Brick Cave Media traces it’s roots back 23 years to the arrival of founder Bob Nelson and the start of a literary magazine called Anthology.

Today, Brick Cave Media represents 9 different authors across 2 states, with over 50 titles in publication.

While we function mostly as a publisher in the traditional sense, we benefit from having a small, agile team that can change direction quickly as needed. We have a passionate staff of 4 that wears all the hats of a full business, and a halo of editors, artists and others that support the Press’ efforts.

As a small press, our authors interact with each other, which we encourage, because we want them to be a source of encouragement and to share the opportunities that an indie author may not have alone. As a Press, we work to offer opportunities of scale, representation at events that indies may find daunting or financially challenging on their own and access to distribution opportunities that we can focus on while the author can continue to focus on writing.

A small press, the RIGHT small Press, can be a great vehicle for an author. We at Brick Cave tell every prospective author that there is nothing we do that you cannot do yourself, if you choose in invest the time and resources. That is not playing down us or any other small press, that’s an acknowledgement of the realities of what the last 25 years have done for the industry. Choose a small press based on what you want them to do for you, not for what you think you cannot do.

Brick Cave became a publisher through an interesting story. The business itself was founded in 2006 as a spoken word audio label, producing spoken word albums, and taking advantage of the MP3 revolution that occurred at the turn of the century. In 2008, the business added film company to it’s roster, as the company produced the feature film Sacrifice (available on Amazon).

In 2009, Author J.A. Giunta approached Brick Cave CEO Bob Nelson about publishing his fantasy novels. The two had worked together previously on Anthology literary magazine in 1994-1996. Because the Amazon Kindle platform had just debuted and there was a curiosity about how they could leverage the platform, Nelson agreed to publish Giunta and a deal was struck. In 2010, the Press added Sharon Skinner, and in 2011, started printing paperback editions of their books. In 2010, Brick Cave started making public appearances at local conventions (originally to promote Sacrifice, but eventually the books took over) and from there the business grew. In 2016, book sales accounted for 85% of Brick Cave’s annual revenue, and Brick Cave makes 12-15 appearances each year promoting new titles.

Originally, Brick Cave, because of it’s connections to the poetry non profit Anthology, was heavily poetry focused. To this day, Brick Cave maintains a strong roster of poets and release 1-2 titles a year. With the addition of J.A. Giunta and later Sharon Skinner and others, the Press expanded to include traditional fantasy, science fiction, and urban fantasy.

The future is bright for us. We have worked hard to, in a sense, grow up a little as a business, and put ourselves in a position to handle more books, and more authors. We are looking for smart, determined and creative authors that want to be a part of a larger story. We are working to build brand, so we are recognized well beyond our traditional borders. We are looking to get our titles in more places, our authors in more signings, and increase our profile.

As an author, if you are looking to use a small press, start with and examination of yourself, and make an honest list of the things you would like to keep control of and the things you would be willing to let someone else handle for you. Then profile the small presses that match you and your writing style, talk to strength in areas you want them to handle, and look like they would meet your expectations. Buy a book from them and read it. Reach out to them and ask for submission advice. Follow their guidelines. Be the model submitter that they can point out to others.

Also, understand that the majority of small presses are generally overworked, organizationally stressed, and financially limited. Keep your expectations in line with reality. If you start the relationship right, by researching and finding the best match for your style and your work, a small press can be a very powerful partner in a writer’s career.

Learn more about Brick Cave at https://brickcavemedia.com

A Small Press With Big Accomplishments

When I prepared to submit my debut novel Sleeper Protocol for publication, I decided that I would look into small presses as well as larger more traditional ones. As I prepared my list of potential “candidates” a good friend and co-author of mine mentioned a publisher I’d never heard of before: Red Adept Publishing. I added them to the list of potential publishers that I would research. As soon as I looked closer, I realized that Red Adept would move to the top of the list.

At that time, in 2014, I discovered that Red Adept Publishing had already published a New York Times Bestselling novel. That was a huge plus for them on my scoresheet. I also discovered they were located in North Carolina and being from Tennessee, this was another plus. Not too shabby. When I checked the normal sources (Preditors and Editors, Author Beware), I found nothing negative to speak of and so when the time came, I sent them Sleeper Protocol and kept my fingers crossed.

One October afternoon, I had some scheduled writing time before I was to pick up our youngest child from daycare. I walked out of Starbucks, got into the car, and my phone rang with a North Carolina area code. I picked it up and so began my first conversation with Red Adept Publishing. Lynn McNamee and her amazing team go much farther above and beyond than most small presses I know. Not only was I told that Sleeper Protocol would get a copy edit and a line edit, a spectacular cover, and marketing assistance, I found myself folded into a group of authors across many genres (fantasy, romance, thriller, paranormal, science fiction) who support each other and really are one big, happy family. I could not have been happier to have signed a contract with them.

It’s fair to say now, though, that Red Adept was not the first small press I submitted to, nor was my contract on Sleeper Protocol the first small press contract I received. The first publisher has since gone out of business and their contract, which they touted as “negotiable,” was a learning experience in and of itself. When I look back and compare that publisher and Red Adept Publishing? Yeah, there’s no comparison at all. Why? Red Adept’s contract is very friendly to authors and the quality of work they’ve produced over the last several years stands for itself.

Since I signed with Red Adept, the publisher has seen another author hit the New York Times list and two authors hit the USA Today Bestsellers List. Those are tremendous accomplishments for any press, not just a small press. What sets them apart is very simple: they are the most professional, enthusiastic, and supportive team of authors and editors that I know and I’m thrilled to be a part of them going forward.

Just the other day, I received an email from my line editor that it was time for Vendetta Protocol to start its final march to publication. We already have an amazing cover and I was fortunate enough to have the same editing team from Sleeper Protocol sign on for the sequel. I’m looking forward to publishing more with Red Adept Publishing in the future. They certainly have changed my life. I’m very glad that I decided to go with a small publisher, but it matters most that I went with one of the right ones. They’re out there.

Guy’s Top Five Favorite Publishers

I’ve been writing since the mid-1970’s. During that time, I’ve assembled a huge assortment of trunk stories. I could just let them rot away, but I don’t like to waste my time and energy. I poke at them every so often until I find a suitable market and — this part is important — I’m comfortable with the quality of the story.

Over the years I’ve found plenty of different types of markets, ranging from “for the love” to pro-level. If one of my trunk stories will work for a non-paying market, I don’t mind sending it in to the editor. I feel that it’s a better location than a hard drive that will eventually fail. Because I’m a prolific writer, it doesn’t take me long to produce stories. Now that I’m switching to dictation software because of worsening carpal tunnel issues, I expect my output will expand even further.

Here are some of my current favorites:

WordFire Press

This is a small-to-middling sized pro-level Colorado press owned by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. I’ve done some minor work for them in the past, and they’re publishing a novel I co-wrote with a couple of friends. Everyone there is wonderful to work with, and I know many of them personally.

Getting published by WordFire means your work will appear next to books by Kevin and Rebecca, who are both award-winning and NY Times/USA Today bestsellers, plus the likes of Brian and Frank Herbert, Alan Dean Foster, Alan Drury (Pulitzer Prize winner), and a host of name-brand, top-tier authors. An added benefit is the ability to attend some of the best conventions as a WordFire author.

Wolfsinger Press

This is another Colorado publisher, albeit a micro press. Wolfsinger puts out several unique anthologies every year, and sometimes I write a story for them just because the anthology concept excites my muse. They respond to questions quickly and actually do thorough edits.

My story, “Grubstake”, appears in Supernatural Colorado, and a story I’ve sent in to their Love ‘Em, Shoot ‘Em anthology was accepted. They sometimes have guest editors, so it’s nice to work with new folks in a familiar environment. Although this press has a token payment and royalty setup, I can report that I actually do receive royalty statements as promised, which can be a rarity with the token-payment or royalty-only presses. They do offer discounted copies for contributors.

Another benefit of Wolfsinger is they also have a couple of fascinating eZines (The Lorelei Signal and Sorcerous Signals). I’ve been published in The Lorelei Signal, and they also put out a compilation in ebook format. Both can add to your bibliography.

James Ward Kirk Publishing

This micro press run by (no surprise) author and editor James Ward Kirk puts out several unique anthologies per year, plus a couple of annuals. This is a for-the-love or a token payment press (two $25 awards for the top two submissions). I love many of their anthology concepts and come up with complete story ideas by the time I’m done reading the submission requirements on their open call page.

I’ve had stories accepted for several of their anthologies, including “We Are Dust and Shadow” for the anthology of the same name; “A Gift of Light” in Bones II; and “The Box”, which appears in Ugly Babies 2. I also have a story in their horror sampler and the Barnyard Horror publications. The anthology editors are great to work with, and they offer good discounts for contributors.

Garden Gnome Publications

Another oddball small press that publishes an interesting series of anthologies called Biblical Legends, amongst others. I co-wrote a couple of stories with Tonya L. De Marco about two robots who go about doing horrible things to humans — enough so that they help to create some of the legends and mythologies we have to this day. “One Bit Off” appears in their Garden of Eden anthology, and “Garbage” appears in Sulphurings.

Garden Gnome has branched out from ebook-only to some limited print versions. I am always pleased when I have more print books that I can pile on a table at a convention. This is a token-payment publisher, but they’re fun to work with.

Daily Science Fiction

If you’re not signed up for their weekday free stories that appear in your inbox, you’re missing out. This is a small SFWA-approved venue that pays better than pro rates. When they picked up my short story, “A Case of Curiosities”, I was qualified to join SFWA. This is a tough market to crack, but certainly is worth your efforts.

The owners are the editors, and they enjoy a wide range of micro-to-short speculative fiction. They do enjoy mild horror (with a speculative bent) and fantasy. DSF should be one of the first group of publishers you send your best work to. They also on occasion publish a gigantic print anthology of the best works that appeared that year.

♦ ♦ ♦

The bad thing about letting you know about my favorite publishers is that I can now expect more competition for slots. I would suggest you buy several works from each publisher you’re interested in working with to see the types of stories they pick up. Besides, it’s important to support the publishers we all want to succeed.

Best of luck with your submissions!

 


 

About the Author:DeMarco_Web-5963

Guy Anthony De Marco is a disabled US Navy veteran speculative fiction author; a Graphic Novel Bram Stoker Award® nominee; winner of the HWA Silver Hammer Award; a prolific short story and flash fiction crafter; a novelist; an invisible man with superhero powers; a game writer (Sojourner Tales modules, Interface Zero 2.0 core team, third-party D&D modules); and a coffee addict. One of these is false.
A writer since 1977, Guy is a member of the following organizations: SFWA, WWA, SFPA, IAMTW, ASCAP, RMFW, NCW, HWA. He hopes to collect the rest of the letters of the alphabet one day. Additional information can be found at Wikipedia and GuyAnthonyDeMarco.com.

Important Resources For Researching Small Presses

I’m no authority on small publishers. Or big ones.

Oh, you aren’t either?

Awesome! Let’s learn together.

Let’s start from the beginning. What are the differences between big and small presses? What does it mean for you as a writer? You’ll have to do research on specific presses, but usually, a larger publisher will have a sizable staff with different departments that can see to the publication of your book from beginning to end, including marketing and advertising. Does this mean small presses don’t have these? Not necessarily. Many small presses have all of that as well, but some may not have as large of budgets to spend on marketing and advertising, for example. Some may not have the distribution that bigger publishers have. Each publisher is different, and you’ll need to research each you are interested in individually to see what they offer.

First, how can you determine if a publisher is a small or large press? An imprint? Check out this incredibly handy chart made just one year ago that shows the big publishers and their imprints: https://almossawi.com/big-five-publishers/.

Here’s an example of one section of the chart:

As you can see from just this branch, the chart is comprehensive, and is a good resource if you want to find an imprint of any of the top (and largest) publishers.

If you’ve established that the publisher you’re looking for isn’t an imprint, here’s a fantastic resource in Poets & Writers for almost every small press: https://www.pw.org/small_presses.

You’ll notice that each publisher has a brief description, their reading period dates, which genre(s) they publish, and any sub-genres. Most smaller publishers should be listed in this comprehensive database, and will include a link to their websites. Read every word of the publisher’s website. I mean it! Every. Single. Word. Take a day or seven to consider if the publisher would be a good fit for you and your work.

Compile a list of the small presses that you think would be the best fit.

Once you’ve considered a number of publishers, small and large and otherwise, what exactly should you be looking for? What questions should you be asking yourself, and what information should you be looking for?

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America website has an entire page dedicated to information about small presses, including warning signs one should know to look out for when considering a smaller press. While it’s a lot of information, it’s well worth the read and worth bookmarking for future reference: http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/small/. At the end of the article, SFWA lists a number of additional resources.

Which is the best publisher?

That, my friend, is up to your own evaluation of your writing, your career goals, and the publisher that can best help you achieve your goals. It’s all a matter of research and evaluation. Happy researching and evaluating!