A brand new press has been born and it’s being run by an experienced and enthusiastic publisher. Dystopia Press is the dream-come-to-life of Mark Long. Mark runs TSTC Publishing, which publishes the TechCareers series of books that I have been involved with. He’s now opened his own small press.
While I don’t write the genre of books he’s looking for, I was still excited to hear what he’s been doing. I’m also excited because I think there may be one or two of you out there who do write what he’s looking for.
So, I’m going to turn Straight From Hel over to Mark Long. Welcome, Mark.
One summer night when I was in my late thirties, my wife Melody and I were having a few beers with a friend of ours out on our back patio when she made each of us answer the question “What would you do if you had the choice to do whatever you wanted?” Melody said she wanted to be a full-time college history teacher, our friend wanted his own recording studio, and I wanted to run my own small press.
As it happens, since then my wife has become a full-time history instructor at our local community college, our old friend has been recording CDs at the home studio he put together, and I’ve been a book publisher for the last six years, first at Texas State Technical College and, simultaneously for the past year and a half, at Dystopia Press, working to get it off the ground to publish dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels.
One of my wife’s favorite quotes is from Quincy Jones about kids’ problems today stemming from the fact that they just don’t dream big enough. Thanks to her—and that night of saying out loud what we really wanted to do in our lives—we’re all actually doing what we had always secretly wanted to do.
Why Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Novels?
To really make a go of it in small press publishing you need to publish books that you love as well as ones that fit into a clearly defined market niche. My two favorite genres when growing up were mystery and science fiction. It was kind of toss-up there for a while as to which way to go—mystery or sci-fi—but the mystery market is so saturated that niche-specific sci-fi looked to be a better bet.
Plus, I had always a real interest in those kind of end-of-the-world stories whether they were the result of some calamity like Day of the Triffids or On the Beach or even just societies gone wrong like 1984 or Make Room! Make Room!. It’s one of those truisms that everybody tends to be nice when things are going their way but it’s when the chips are down that true character is revealed. So these types of novels take that conceit to a really epic scale.
How Did This All Get Started?
I’d been teaching college English for about ten years but six years ago TSTC, the school I was teaching at in Waco, was looking to start an in-house book publishing operation so I moved over to help out with that. At first it was just me sitting in an old conference room desperately reading books about publishing but since then we’ve grown to a full-time staff of five with a slew of editorial and graphics interns each semester along with a pool of freelancers who work on projects as well.
Back when I was still in the English department I figured out it was really easy to throw away a ton of money in book publishing if you didn’t know exactly what you were doing—my biggest fear has always been ending up with 5,000 copies of some book sitting in my garage for the rest of my life—so working at TSTC Publishing has been absolutely invaluable experience. I was very lucky to be in the right place at the right time so I’ve tried to make the most of by learning as much as possible about all the various aspects of publishing before finally starting Dystopia Press.
What’s Happening Right Now?
What’s the Plan for the Future?
Everyone who gets involved with small press publishing has a real love of books—usually in one particular genre—but the hardest thing is taking care of all the nitnoid details that aren’t nearly as interesting as books themselves: buying ISBNs, generating Bookland EAN barcodes, lining out effective distribution, keeping good business/financial records, and doing all those other day-to-day things that are necessary to having an effective publishing operation. So, with that in mind, with Dystopia Press I’m trying to thoughtfully set it up to last for the long haul.
In the short term, it’s all about reading manuscripts. With a small press, you need to be sure you’re publishing the best books you possibly can because the margin for error is so small. The hardest part of that is getting someone to take a chance on working with a press that doesn’t have an established track record. So I’m always on the lookout for the next great manuscript that fits into our niche and would be a crime not to publish.
Thank you Mark.
Mark is making it easy for you to find out what he’s looking for. He blogs and tweets, and Dystopia press has its own Facebook fan page and website, of course. And in case you’re wondering how to submit to Dystopia Press, go to the submission guidelines page.
Right now, you can ask questions or leave comments for Mark. He won’t mind. He’s put up with me for a long time.
3 months ago