What is a Publisher Today?

Hint: it’s not just about publishing books.

Building a small (okay, tiny) press is a long term project for me. I left a career in technology and returned to publishing because it was the one career I truly enjoyed. I knew it meant learning today’s publishing and not relying on what publishing was twenty-five years ago. I also knew it meant not just focusing on selling paper books in a certain set of genres.

Readers are not a finite resource. I don’t understand the idea of competing for readers. We may have to compete for their attention, but as a reader myself, I know I read widely and a book just needs to touch one of my interests. There are plenty of readers, and readers are reading more, even among gen-z. These readers are willing to read more types and forms of literature than ever. I see the mission of this press to include expanding readership awareness of fiction they will enjoy, and the availability of new and different fantasy & speculative literature. Readers generally aren’t loyal to a publisher. They are loyal to a series, characters, authors, forms, and genres.

Modern Folklore Press

The list of things I hope to achieve with this press is not long, but I hope, impactful.

  • I want to expand the landscape of fantasy & speculative poetry. There’s an audience for it, but it isn’t big enough for the Big Five. But it is for a micro press.
  • I want to expand the readership and marketplace for novelettes and novellas. The novella has gained some interest from the Big Five, but not much. Speculative & Fantasy magazines often make room for novelettes and a few novellas. But there are readers looking for more, and I know many writers who would like to write more to these lengths.
  • Publish more short stories. Traditionally limited to magazines, ezines, and anthologies, there is room for more stories. I believe there are more ways to deliver them. There is room for prose poems, and for micro and flash fiction.
  • Finally, there are several excellent periodicals that publish critical essays about speculative and fantastic literature. Again, there’s still room for more.

When I say room for more, I mean both more readers and more room for writers to create more and unique content.

When I wrote out my scope and mission for the press, I realized it was too great for us to take on all at once. It’s going to take a series of small steps. We haven’t opened any calls yet because we want to do each of these well. We want to bring them to new readers, and treat authors, editors, and artists right. We’ll start with a call for one specific thing, do that thing to the best of our ability, and then try the next.

So what is a press today?

A press has three constituents: readers, authors, and the communities in which it operates. Distributors and bookstores are vehicles for delivery, not customers. Our communities are physically local, and also the the global fantastic & speculative community of readers, writers, editors, critics, and artists. Our focus will always be on delivering more and varied content to readers, and to seek that content from a diverse group of writers, editors, and artists.