Friday, October 16, 2009
Heading to the Apex of the Small Press World- An Interveiw with Jason Sizemore
It is always exciting to see a small press success story unfolding before your eyes, as is the case with Lexington, Kentucky-based Apex Publications. Apex is a publisher of speculative fiction, and has worked with a wide range of very talented authors, editors, and artists over the course of its existence.
Apex recently took a large step forward in the area of distribution, and is on the verge of releasing several exciting new titles. One such new release is very imminent, an anthology whose release party is taking place in Lexington on October 24th.
In this SSP interview, we catch up with Jason Sizemore, founder and head-honcho of Apex Publications, to discuss the new distribution development, Apex itself, the new anthology, and the near future. Apex is definitely going to be making lots of waves in the publishing world very soon, and is a shining example of the quality that can come out of the small press world.
-Stephen Zimmer for Seventh Star Press Blog Site, October 17, 2009
SZ: For those that might not know the Apex story, when did you found it and what were your motivations/goals?
JS: The Apex story begins with one weird little man, who at the age of 31, looked around himself and asked "What the hell have I done with my life that anybody will care about?" Sort of an early mid-life crisis, you could say. I've been a software developer all my life doing work that seldom gives me pride.
I found that the creative side of my brain was calling.
I've been big into horror and science fiction since my college days and had had a few stories published in 'zines and online. I knew my way around the markets. One thing I noticed was how often they sprang to life and then died. I decided to see if I could start a 'zine that would last at least ten issues. We ended our print run at twelve issues, a minor success.
SZ: Tell us a little about the magazine, including subscription options.
The magazine is no longer in print. Sorry. You can always read the latest
content for free at http://www.apexbookcompany.com/apex-online.
SZ: As of October 2009, approximately how many books and magazines has Apex published?
JS: We've published 17 books. We did 12 issues of Apex Digest in print, moved to online and did 15 months online, then did POD for four months, and now we're back to online exclusively.
In other words, a lot!
SZ: You recently took a big step in terms of distribution of Apex
publications. What was that step and what will it mean for Apex?
We signed on with Pathway Book Service. Before, we were printed and 'distributed' by Lightning Source. I have nothing but the nicest things to say about Lightning Source. Unfortunately, the hard truth is that many bookstores won't even look at your titles because the wholesalers (like Baker & Taylor and Ingram) will list your book as POD. There's still a black cloud over POD. Uninformed booksellers (and library buyers) see the 'POD' by your book and assume 'amateurs.' Moving from LSI to PBS removes that onus.
Pathway broadens our reach, gives us more credibility, and is a big step toward Apex becoming a bigger player in the publishing field.
SZ:In your years of running Apex, what have been the hardest challenges of running a small press publishing company?
JS: The constant adulation by attractive, MFA of Literature college students.
That, and tiptoeing that fine line of making enough money to remain solvent and giving everyone else holding out their hand expecting their share their dues.
SZ: What do you like about the small press world in particular? Are there any things that small press companies like yours can take advantage of that perhaps larger presses cannot?
JS: As with any organization that is small and independent, you'll get a more business casual environment. There's a more intimate relationship between you and your roster of authors and artists, you and your customers, and you and the vendors. This makes the enormous amount of work feel less like a job and more like you're part of something that is positively affecting the lives of many people. Since I'm not a doctor or rich enough to buy my way into philanthropy, this is the closest I can come to it.
SZ: Let's turn our attention to the new anthology you are releasing, kicking off with your October 24th release party. What is the title and theme of the new anthology?
JS: The book is titled HARLAN COUNTY HORRORS and is edited by Mari Adkins. Harlan, KY, is a place with a lot of history, much of it reaching national attention. It's deep in the Appalachian forests of Kentucky, a rather spiritual place with a unique cultural and geographic background. Mari lived in Harlan for a number of years and she would regale me with these wild tales of ghosts and 'haints' and strange people she encountered during her time living there. We'd often joke that the place would make a great setting for a horror novel.
A few years later, I wanted to do a regional project, getting as many local authors and artists together as possible. Harlan immediately came to mind and I asked Mari if she'd be interested in doing an anthology centered around the region. Of course, she said 'yes.'
Though the book is full of frights and horror, we weren't out to vilify the region. After all, I'm from Big Creek, KY, which is damn close to Harlan and Mari has friend and relatives who live there. Our goal was to use the setting as a way to honor it's...uniqueness.
SZ: Tell us about a few of the writers included in it. Are all of them previously published, or do you have a few new faces?
All of them are previously published, but for some of them, this is only their second or third real publishing credit. My favorite part of doing Harlan County Horrors was that Mari included several writers near and dear to me. Robby Sparks is from Big Creek, as well. Earl Dean is a Lexington writer I've known for a long time and one of the true nice guys of the business. It's been a blast working with Mari on her first major book. As you can tell, I'm rather excited about Harlan County Horrors!
SZ: Where and when is the book release party?
JS: The book release party is Saturday, October 24th, from 2:00-4:00p.m. Over half the contributors, the editor, and the publisher (me!) will be in attendance. There will be a reading of two of the stories. Mari will be there to talk about Harlan weirdness. If you're a writer or a fan, this will be a great opportunity to meet and greet a number of talented locals.
**(Stephen's Note: Location is Morris Book Shop in Lexington KY, on Southland Drive)
SZ:Do you have any special information for people wanting to order the book if they cannot make the release party?
JS: The book should be available on Amazon, B&N.com, etc. Also, you can always order direct from Apex from our online store (apexbookstore.com). Also, thanks to Pathway, the book will be available in some brick & mortars throughout the country.
SZ: What's on the near horizon for Apex in terms of the holiday season and beginning of 2010?
JS: November sees the release of The Apex Book of World SF edited by Lavie Tidhar. We go from focusing on one tiny mountain community to the world at large outside of the U.S. and the U.K. The book is an anthology of science fiction from some of the leading non-English writers in the world: Zoran Zivkovic, Aliette de Bodard, S.P. Somtow, and so forth.
December we're releasing our first novel-length book titled The Changed written by B.J. Burrow. It's a zombie-comedy. Yes, a zom-com. And it's funny as hell--just got a great review in Publishers Weekly.
SZ: Give us some links to Apex in the internet, from websites to social media outlets like FaceBook and MySpace.
Main site: apexbookcompany.com
Store site: apexbookstore.com