Posts tagged small press
Well, it’s a sad day here at MMP HQ.
Hello, I’m Scott R. Jones. Normally I’d be writing this from the MMP-standard royal “we” (see pretty much every post for the past several years) but the time for full ownership has come. I’m shuttering the press for the foreseeable future. This is due to multiple factors that have, over the past year and a bit, contributed to the increasingly poor functioning of the press and the failure to live up to the admittedly meager ideals it was founded on. It’s painful to write this post, but necessary, and, seeing as I’ve essentially already written it (in a letter to the authors slated to appear in the two upcoming but now sadly cancelled MMP anthologies) I am going to attempt to save myself some further pain and so post portions of that letter below.
Good afternoon, everyone. Hope your weekend is going well so far. Unfortunately, I’m writing to relay a piece of bad news that a number of you have likely expected was coming, considering the delays in production on the upcoming MMP books you have pieces attached to.
It’s with considerable regret that I have to cancel both books and put the press on hiatus for the foreseeable future. This past year has been a bad one for me on a number of levels: personal, financial, and health concerns both physical and mental have combined to basically destroy my ability to do right by the press and the writers I work with. When I started MMP five years or so ago, one of my earliest intentions was to provide a level of basic courtesy and professionalism to the people I chose to work with. Given the “boutique”, one-man nature of the operation, this (for me) meant four things: writers and artists would be paid on time for their work, the books would drop in a timely manner, communication would be timely and transparent, and promotion for the titles would be the best possible given the resources available.
2019 has seen MMP fail on all four counts. Without going too much into the unpleasant details, I have run out of money, credit, time, and the increasingly important mental resources required to operate MMP in even the most bare-bones manner. As some of you have no doubt already noted, contracts as written and signed off on have not been honoured, payments have not been forthcoming, and communication on these matters has been slight and shamefully deferral in nature. Honestly, I had hoped that at least the financial aspect of this would turn around and allow me to move ahead with both Innsmouthbreathers and Monstrous Outlines, however haltingly, but that has not been the case despite a series of best efforts. Again, at MMPs inception, my intention was to not allow the press and its operation to impact my family’s already thin financial resources: with the increase of the usual costs of living, and the arrival of new and unexpected expenses, this has become impossible to do, and so the MMP project has to be sacrificed.
I’d also like to address here another aspect of the problem that I have little doubt will come up. Those of you who are attached to me via social media have likely noted that my personal writing career has seen some significant uptick in the past several months: I was approached about, and eventually sold, a collection of my short stories to another publisher, and my debut novel Stonefish which I’d been working on since mid-2018 has been purchased and is slated for release early in 2020. I recognize and regret the hypocrisy of this. Focusing on my own work had taken a back seat for so long, and the surge in attention and ability I experienced with the writing of the novel overtook me, to the detriment of MMP and, sadly, your own work as represented in MMP books. I have not been balanced in my approach to the work, and the cost has been high. I want to own this and apologize for any harm I’ve brought to you personally and your careers professionally. I should have done better, and I did not.
For all the above, I am deeply sorry. Thank you for submitting your amazing work to MMP, for your patience, and your understanding. All rights to your stories as contracted I now return to you fully in the hope that we may dissolve said contracts and separate peacefully and on good terms. I wish I could do more than just this, as it feels meager indeed, and you all deserved better. Looking forward, on the outside chance that I am at some point in the future able to reinvigorate MMP and restore it according to the framework of my original intentions for the press, I hope that you will consider becoming involved again with either the books being cancelled presently (should they be revived) or new and different ones.
I followed this with an assurance that I would keep my channels open to talk, as I want to foster open and clear communication with the writers I worked with regarding the decisions made. So far the response from writers affected has been gracious, understanding, and sympathetic, which is more than I deserve.
Martian Migraine Press has been in operation since, oh, let’s call it early 2014. Five years and change is not too bad in this wild west of a business, I’m told. I am grateful (as an editor, a publisher, a writer, and a human being, basically) for the experience. Working with established authors and brand spanking new writers of considerable talent and energy, collaborating with and learning from other editors in the field, soliciting gorgeous covers from unique artists and illustrators, and then hearing from readers both online and in person how much the MMP books were enjoyed has been wonderful and heartening. Most of the time, it seemed to me that I didn’t know what I was doing here, other than creating reading experiences I myself enjoyed, but that seems to have struck a chord within the horror and weird fiction communities, and for that I am supremely grateful.
All MMP titles in both TPB and electronic formats will continue to be made available here and from most major retailers.
Thank you, all, for your support and dedication to MMP. Comments will be left open below for questions or concerns.
Scott R. Jones
A good Sunday evening to all! Scott Jones here, editor of the upcoming Martian Migraine Press anthology, Cthulhusattva: Tales of the Black Gnosis. It’s been some time since any updates were posted here (what with Christmas, and day jobs, and so on… you know the drill) and for that I apologize. Work has been progressing on the annual anthology for 2016, and the following is a brief post to bring Migraineers up to speed on that progress. Thank you all (readers, authors, artists, family and friends and sundry other supporters) for your patience, understanding, and good will.
The submissions window for the anthology closed on 15 December 2015. We received close to 200 submissions between August and December. Nearly every one of these stories has been read; I have five left to go over. Most of the rejections have been sent out already, and there are a few more coming. I’d like to thank each and every writer who took a chance on sending something in; I know the feeling of taking a risk and also the discomfort of rejection, but this is the business (as it is, and more on that below) and not everyone can be in the book. But… a shortlist (of 32 tales) has been made, and from these I hope and plan to have the final ToC put together by the end of this month.
I will readily confess here that the reading process for this anthology has been rougher than previous projects. Fitting stories to the theme has proven to be slippery, a fact which I find personally embarrassing, as I’m the guy who wrote the book on #KeepingItRlyeh. (I should take that as a good lesson in R’lyehian Spirituality: just when you think you’ve got the angles right, the thing — a book of stories, an idea about the world, a life, etc. — shifts and mutates and shows another boggling facet of its multifarious self.) The act of balancing horror, mysticism, and a kind of “awed lightness” with these shortlisted stories has been a tricky one, and I’ve gone back and forth and back again on many of them several times. The next two weeks I expect to be especially harrowing. I know, I know: no sympathy. I do this to myself. But I love it, after a fashion, so there.
I am very excited about this book. I have already purchased a long novella that perfectly exemplifies the theme, and on the other end of the ruler, a short poem that is a perfect jewel of #KeepingItRlyeh thought. Also, the cover art has been bought and paid for, a wonderful piece by Seattle artist Alix Branwyn. She has been a real pleasure to work with.
Note that I’ve mentioned purchases and items being bought and paid for. If you follow the triumphs and travails of the horror-and-weird-fiction small press at all, you have likely heard of the recent implosion of a small press in the UK. I have not followed this item too closely, but from what I have picked up, it appears that the outfit in question fell from the sky due to a combination of bad business practices, debt, health issues, and social media outrage (much of the latter entirely justified). Authors were not paid, or waited an unreasonably long time to be paid what they were owed; readers did not receive their books; snark and dishonesty and general weirdness appeared to be the norm.
This has made me uncomfortable for a number of reasons, not least of which is the pain of seeing a small operation showing its belly and issuing forth a death rattle. If you’ve been a Migraineer for any length of time, you’ve likely sussed that this is a one-entity operation, with all the stresses and doubts that incurs. I can hardly even call myself a micropress, let alone a small press. It’s been suggested by wiser heads that MMP is something of a “boutique” operation, and I’m OK with that. Certainly the one or two releases a year qualifies the press for that descriptor. I try to carefully curate a small selection of niche titles, and the annual anthology — Conqueror Womb in 2014, RESONATOR last year, and of course the upcoming Cthulhusattva — are the highlight of the MMP publishing schedule. Would I like to work with more authors, “build the line-up”, and put out more titles? Yes. Can I? No. I know this. To over-extend myself like that would be unfair, to authors, to readers, to myself.
I’d like to stress, though, in the wake of the unfortunate news out of the UK, that MMP authors do get paid. Due to the niche nature of MMP titles, royalties are not a reasonable option (at this time, anyway). For Conqueror Womb (back when MMP was starting out and only doing ebook releases) the payment rate was a flat fee plus a copy of the ebook and three other MMP titles of the authors choice, paid within a month of publication, if not long before at the time of contract. For RESONATOR (which was released as a trade paperback and an ebook) the pay rate was .01 a word plus two contributor copies (and in the case of one author, six copies for their friends and family), also paid out within a month after the book dropped. This year, authors with stories in Cthulhusattva will be paid semi-pro rates (.03 a word) and with some of the shortlisted stories coming in at around 7k words, that’s no small chunk of change (and I should mention that not one dollar is kickstarted or indiego-go’d or what have you) … but by now I’m sure you can see the progression I’m attempting. MMP is evolving, learning from our betters, and becoming more of what I believe it can be,
I don’t say all this to toot my own horn. I’m Canadian, and they freeze that trait out of us up here. I say it to confirm my commitment to doing the best I can with what I’ve got, despite the tiny size of my endeavour here, and to honour the relationship between myself as editor and the hard-working writers who take a chance on the Martian Migraine experience. There are no “gentlemen’s agreements” here: there are contracts and deadlines, payouts and commitments. With this years anthology, I will also be promoting the book better and wider, to indie bookstores across North America and the UK, and getting it into the hands of more reviewers. I’m genuinely excited about Cthulhusattva, and I hope that excitement and pleasure will be reflected once the thing is born and out in the world.
Which, as mentioned, will be happening soon! Stay tuned for official release dates, pre-order information, and other promotional goodies. And again, thank you, Migraineers, for your patience, good will, and of course for reading MMP books and #KeepingItRlyeh.
Vive le Boutique!
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Scott R Jones is the author of the short story collections Soft from All the Blood and The Ecdysiasts, as well as the non-fiction When the Stars Are Right: Towards An Authentic R’lyehian Spirituality. His poetry and prose have appeared in Innsmouth Magazine, Cthulhu Haiku II, Broken City Mag, Flesh Like Smoke, Cthulhu Fhtagn!, Broken Worlds, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, and upcoming in The Children of Gla’aki.