Archive for horror

Writing vs. Music: Labels and Publishers

Posted in Rumination with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2010 by scottsplatter

Since making writing a serious focus, I have tried to find parallels between small press publishers and underground record labels. Chances are if you’re reading this it’s because you found the site via my own music or because of something I released on Crionic Mind. I understand underground music and labels pretty well I think, so I keep hoping that familiarity will assist in finding a foothold in the publishing world.

There are similarities in the spirit of both worlds, but the machinations really are pretty different. This will be the first of a couple posts looking at those differences. The more I look into it the greater the differences become.  The soul of the participants share common ground but the approach and relationships are unique.

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Underground music for this discussion refers to experimental music, dark ambient, lesser known metal, punk, industrial etc. Music that is released by small labels that operate out of the corner of the labels owners house. Limited edition releases that end up somewhere near the high/low mark of 1,000 copies,  There are publishing companies that fit this description as well, good ones.

Underground music functions more or less on a barter economy. Labels and distributors trade merchandise more often than not rather than buying from each other at wholesale rates. This allows each to diversify their mail orders while being able to put any real money into releasing new product. Bands or projects are usually paid in product that they can then sell. There are exceptions, but much of the music is obscure enough, and the pressings small enough, that a royalty arrangement is essentially agreeing to do it for free.

If you aren’t familiar with my music and found this through a tag search, there is a discography in the side bar. I never signed a contract, never received a check for any of it. I received product. This worked for me because with running the label I was able to convert my releases into other releases and build a nice mail order catalog (that I will get online again at some point). The bands I did releases for –  I would take care of the artwork and mastering if they wanted, but I paid them in product. No one even raised the issue of money because we all knew how it worked.

I’ve been releasing music since 1995, and recording it longer than that. What did I get out of this model? Reviews, contacts, interviews and friends on every continent but Antarctica. It helped me build a record label that  garnered some amount of respect, had an identity and supported itself. It put me in touch with people who remain friends and inspirations and people who I think might say the same about me. Those things have a value,  but none of them pay my bills. For what I do soundtracks are perhaps the one area that could be lucrative, even then there are a lot of variables.

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I’ve not yet published anything, in fact I have not yet submitted anything, though that time is near.  These impressions are based on the extensive research, market reports, submission guidelines, classes and the advice and comments of those who have.

With publishing, the battle cry is that the money flows to the author. If you publish something you aren’t paid for it’s seen as an invalid writing credit by many. If you self publish, it’s viewed with scorn and can work against you when you submit through the established channels. The editors and publishing houses have determined the chain of worth. It counts if they say it counts.

Print on demand services and e-publishing  have made it easier than ever to self publish, just as affordable home recording software, mp3’s and cdr’s made it easier to make and spread music. The distaste for self publishing comes from the amount of sub par writing that surfaces there. There is so much garbage that the gems are not worth the energy it takes to find them. However, I’ve read books published by reputable houses that contained work I’d have been embarrassed to show anyone. It’s not that published work is better, just that it is more likely to be better.

There is a saying, the hardest book to sell is your second book. Publishers will take a chance on new writers, but once you are published your track record is established. If you aren’t able to sell through your first pressing, your opportunities become more limited. Other publishers have access to the sales numbers for books published by other houses. Not only are your chances diminished with your original publisher if you don’t sell through, they are hurt with prospective publishers. This is with marketing budgets nearly non-existent in the small press world and the responsibility falling to the writer to hustle their work.

Joe Konrath, has a blog called A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing that makes a case for ignoring some of this conventional wisdom and ways to get the money flowing to the author without filtering it through the publishing houses. Paul Jessup had a nice bit of musing on the state of publishing recently on his blog as well. The model is going to change because the tools exist now in such a way that it will have no choice. There will always be garbage on the market, but the time will come when it is the market that determines what is garbage and what is not.

R. Thomas Riley has a post on the Apex Books blog regarding the differences between writing and publishing which I think is a good place to wind this down. This is incomplete, and maybe even ignorant. I wrote it for myself as much as anyone else. Having had success, at least as I measure it, with music and exploring this new parallel underground is an odd thing. There are more rules and more divides. Right now my goal is to write well. I will try to publish. Whether I am successful at that end of it or not I will still try to write well.

To be continued…

Richard Gavin

Posted in Recommendation with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by scottsplatter

I recently finished Omens (published by  Mythos Books )  by Richard Gavin, and wanted to sound the horn for him.  The 12 stories here showcase a diverse and peculiar dread. Gavin has some great ideas  and his command of language and tone made this a quite enjoyable.

His work has been compared to such shambling giants of the macabre as H.P. Lovecraft,  and Edgar Allan Poe and Thomas Ligotti and Omens deserves such comparisons. It’s not as nihilistic as Ligotti, or as cosmic as Lovecraft. Of the three, I’d place it closest to Poe. The pervasive creep factor that each of those writers possess is present in Richard Gavin.  His imagination is impressive and unique, and he does a really nice job of overlaying that strange darkness into a modern setting.

I’m always looking for more writers that capture this side of horror. The current crop of writers that are making waves seem more straight forward. That is not to say they are unskilled or not to be enjoyed.  I have just always favored more obscure tales of secrets, nightmares, and oddities and Gavin impressed me.

He has a brand new collection entitled The Darkly Splendid Realm (published by Dark Regions) that I’m anxious to get my hands on. The introduction was written by Laird Barron (who I swear I will do a post on one of these days). It was Barron’s involvement that brought Richard Gavin’s name to my attention and I’m grateful for it.

http://www.richardgavin.net/

NaNoWriMo pt. 1

Posted in Writings with tags , , , , , on November 1, 2009 by scottsplatter

Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) started today, and my wife and I decided to give it a go this year. The goal is to write 50,000 words during the month of November. That works out to between 1,600 and 1,700 words a day. So far she is kicking my ass.

I’m going to try and also continue working on some of the other stories I have been plugging away on as well, and I have Writers Workshop with Michael Knost II starting in about a week and a half. Hopefully though I will be able to keep up. Whatever happens it figures to be a productive month.

Eyes Wide Pus

Posted in Video with tags , , , , on August 24, 2009 by scottsplatter

A crony of mine did the 48 Hour Film Festival last weekend. This is what they came up with.  From no idea to finished film in 48 hours.

Dark Dreamers

Posted in Recommendation, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2009 by scottsplatter

5189q3Bz10L__SL500_AA240_I just recently learned of this series. Dark Dreamers is a collection of interviews with several of the strongest minds in horror. The interviews are conducted and compiled by Stanley Wiater, considered by many to be one of the leading journalist on the horror field. There is a book I haven’t seen yet, and there was a Canadian TV series that is available on DVD.

I just picked up the DVD’s, it’s a 4 disc set with over 10 hours of content that features interviews with Forrest J. Ackerman, Clive Barker, Richard Matheson, Harlan Ellison, Richard Laymon, Wes Craven, Jon Landis, Jack Ketchum, Douglas Clegg, John Skipp… and a mess of others.

There are people on here I wasn’t familiar with at all, and names I know but haven’t read in addition to people I do like. I’ve only gotten to watch the first 5 or 6 interviews so far, but it’s been really interesting. The interviews focus not only on the artists careers, but also the nature of the craft and the passion that drove those careers. The interviews were conducted between 2000 and 2001, but because of the nature of the interviews that doesn’t date the information. I have seen suggestion that Wiater intends to resurrect the series and conduct future interviews, and the DVD set does say “Volume 1.” I’m not sure when or if that is happening, but I certainly hope so.

I’ve always found interviews such as these that look at craft and creativity as being really fascinating and motivating. Wiater put this series together with more passion than money and I really hope he continues where he left off. It’s a labor of love that has delivered a level of insight you don’t get from the average PR interviews. A few of the people on this collection are dead now, and a few are the first on screen interviews of certain participants.

Here is a segment of the Harlan Ellison interview to wet your whistle…