BREAKING INTO SMALL PRESS
There are two methods to building a list of credits in the field of writing. (A third method through newspaper journalism is not covered here.) The first method, favored by the majority of aspiring writers, involves submitting a manuscript to a book publisher or articles to magazine publishers. It is the most well known method and also the most difficult. Currently, since there are fewer publishers in existence they are less likely to gamble on new talent. The response time for these publishers is extremely slow. A book might take as long as two years for publication. It is wise to utilize the second method instead.
That method consists of seeking publication in small press. While it is true that even small press has also diminished in size, there are still thousands of zines, journals, newsletters, books and chapbooks published yearly. These publications cover a huge gamut of genres, topics, themes, etc. Learn the markets thoroughly. However, first learn the craft of writing thoroughly. It will save embarrassment and some rejection. Not all publishers are polite about critiquing submissions with frequent errors. Seek out libraries, bookstores and newsstands for books and magazines about writers and writing. Check out the Internet for websites that contain suitable information. Frequently amateur writers think it is necessary to pay for expensive university courses (some also available on the Internet). There is an inexpensive way--local writers' workshops. Some workshops are available on the Internet. The workshops are generally free of charge. Once a writer thinks he or she is ready to mail out a submission or two, learn the markets. There are small press publishers with a reputation for publishing quality writing. Try them first. If that does not after several attempts, try some of the lesser known publishers that have been around a good while. If that still does not work, try even lesser known publishers or new ones.
A writer needs to learn his or her writing strengths and weaknesses. Take the necessary steps to correct any major problems with one's writing style. The best way to insure eventual publication is to keep sending out submissions to various publishers. Do not wait for a response from one before sending out another submission to another publisher. Keep writing. Keep submitting. (Note: In reference to simultaneous submissions--it is wise to send them out only to publishers who will consider them and always tell them it is a simultaneous submission. Some listings for publishers include that information. If a submission is accepted by a publisher, be sure to notify the others right away that the submission has been accepted elsewhere.)
Small press publishers vary in their requirements. Some maintain strict length limits while others do not care (if they like your work they will find space for it). Some pay a small fee (generally 1/4 cent to 3 cents per word) plus free copy while others only pay in copies. It is necessary for an aspiring writer to acquire at least a few paying markets for one's list of credits to be taken seriously, in the future, by a literary agent or major publisher. However, many small press publishers are only able to pay in free copies. Do not dismiss them. If it gets a writer's work published, it still adds to that list of credits in another way--a writer becomes known and more widely accepted among small press publishers. That lends to more work being accepted and perhaps better offers from the publishers who are able to pay. Some publishers do not care about cover letters. However, it is a good policy to send it along with a list of credits. When you develop a nice list of credits, many publishers will be impressed by it. They are like anyone else.
Until the past several years, the majority of the American population was not aware that small press existed. That includes many of the bigger publishers, too. By the late 1980's things changed. Small press publications were growing quickly and some large magazine publishers began taking notice. Articles about small press started showing up. In the 1990's, some books have been published telling all about the small press scene (check out the list of recommended books and websites accompanying this article). Until recently, small press was mostly as an alternative culture thing. Now, it has almost become a fad. The current generation of coffeehouse devotees, rock music fans, scifi/fantasy enthusiasts, and the goth-vampire subculture among others are into small press. The majority of these people are under thirty. However, do not think that all of it is youth-oriented. Small press has been around in various guises since the nineteenth century with the emergence of penny dreadfuls, later in the twentieth century--pulp magazines and various scifi/fantasy and horror zines promoted by the likes of H. P. Lovecraft, John Campbell, Hugo Gurnsback, etc. The current incarnation somewhat developed out of the 1960's radicalism as well as the earlier scifi/fantasy and horror publications. In the 1970's, small press started to grow at a rapid pace. The existence of some television shows and movies helped further viewers' interest in the scifi/fantasy and horror genres. Meanwhile, the literary zine, while always a staple of the more academic crowd, became more eclectic. Many of the current crop of fringe, quirky and medley zines are sometimes classified as literary.
Small press covers a broad territory: alternative press, zines, fanzines, literary journals and more eclectic zines, newsletters, books & poetry chapbooks, story collections, underground press, comix, inde press, etc. Alternative press mostly includes anything from slick to very poorly printed publications devoted to a variety of topics and themes not considered in the mainstream. Zines cover almost anything and everything from A-Z. Fanzines are mainly devoted to movie or television shows and their stars. Much of it is scifi/fantasy though it will include mystery, adventure, romance, etc. Literary journals are generally published by university presses though not always. The more eclectic journals are mostly published by small press. Newsletters, which are classified as small press, are available in a broad variety of topics and themes. Books and poetry chapbooks are published by university presses, individuals who self-publish their poetry, small press and medium size presses. The same goes for story collections. Underground press mostly consists of some subculture materials such as s & m, tattooing, goth-vampirism, death & dying, alternative lifestyles and erotica. It usually includes the adult-oriented independent comix market. The regular comix market generally includes itself alongside zines or fanzines depending on content.
There is a new emerging branch of small press that is and is not small press--the e-zine. Since the e-zine has developed due to the emergence of the Internet and the www, it is basically a new entity. Some of these e-zines have their roots in small press since some of the creators originally published some kind of small press publication or currently publication a print version of an e-zine. There are, however, some e-zine publishers who are new to zine publishing and have never published the print version.
The best way for an emerging writer to local potential publishers for their works is to find them through various publications (including books, magazines, zines, newsletters, directories) devoted to small press, or through the Internet. There are many websites devoted to writers, writing, and publishing as well as e-zines.
Next issue--"How To Become A Successful Small Press Publisher--And That Doesn't Necessarily Mean Making A Profit"
International Directory of Little Magazines And Small Presses
P.O. Box 100
Paradise, CA 95967
Factsheet Five--Directory & Reviews of Zines
P.O. Box 170099
San Francisco, CA 94117
Scavenger's Newsletter--Scifi/Fantasy/Horror/Mystery Markets
Osage City, KS 66523-1329
John Laboritz's List of All Known Zines
The Gila Queen's Guide to
P. O. Box 97
Newton, NJ 07860-0097
7614 Cervantes Ct.
Springfield, VA 22153
Zuzu's Petals Literary Resource Homepage
Zuzu's Petals Quarterly
Zuzu's Links for Poets & Writers
Zuzu's Other WWW Literary Magazines, etc.
Ms. Smith's English Page
Brain Bait--English Grammar links, etc.
Mysterious Strands--extensive mystery links
From the upcoming issue of MIXED MAG:
COFFEE WITH A SIDE OF GREATNESS
by Jimmy Toscano
I think that my all time favorite thing about road trips is getting coffee, I know it sounds weird but I think it's the greatest. It's not even the actual coffee that I enjoy; it's the ritual that goes along with it. Its like 3:30 in the morning and I pull over at some broken down gas station in the middle of nowhere, and I might only have like three bucks.
But I walk in and its great, I know my three bucks is going to go a long way, because I look down the long candy aisle and it looks just like a huge tangible rainbow that I can reach out and touch.
The spectrum begins with a few assorted mints and lifesavers, that fades into the gum racks, then into candies like Skittles, Starburst, and Sprees, then it slowly turns into a huge selection of candy bars, then into chips and cookies, and then finally at the end of this perfectly arranged aisle is an oversized display of every beef Jerky flavor and size you could think of. After I have taken all of that in I make my selections. First I grab a ninety-nine cent bag of Fungions, just because I haven't had them in a while. Next, I realize that I'm going to need something that goes with my coffee, so I get my all-time favorite old stand-by, the Snickers bar.
Now I am ready to get my Coffee. I walk over to the coffee station where there are like eight coffee pots all full and steaming hot. And there is usually always at least one trucker there, and as we wrestle around each other trying to get our caffeine fix, he says a little more than nothing, but not much. And I respect that because he doesn't feel the need to talk just for the sake of talking, and neither do I.
But my mind is going a hundred miles an hour thinking how his life on the road must be. And wishing I could see and meet all the people and places he made contact with. But I ask him nothing, and just fill my twenty ounce cup a little more than two-thirds the way up including one creamer, so that it doesn't spill over in the car.
I now have everything I need so I walk up too the clerk at the counter and lay down my treats and coffee, and as the clerk complains about her long hours of working through the night I notice a Bazooka Joe box marked five cents each. So I purchase one, because I know it will hit the spot when I'm done with my treats and coffee. And while she rings up my items and we're making small talk I think about that comic that I will be getting in my gum wrapper. I remember my Dad buying me a Bazooka Joe a long time ago and it said, "Help me I'm a prisoner in a bubble gum factory," and I remember how clever he thought it was, and how much I miss him. After that passes the clerk says, "That will be $2.99 please." So I throw the three bucks on the counter and I am totally aware that she doesn't expect me to wait for my change, so I wait for it anyway just to see her expression when I do. I politely say thank you and get in my car and take off.
For three bucks I live like a king on the road, perfectly content for at least another four hundred miles, drinking my coffee, eating my snacks, and listening to whatever I want to on the radio. And maybe just maybe when I finally get to the Bazooka Joe it will be wrapped in that very same comic I had a long time ago, and I will smile and keep driving until I run out of gas or the gum runs out of flavor.
Copyright (c) 1998 Jimmy Toscano Published on the World Wide Web by
Reprinted by permission of the author
From the upcoming issue of MIXED MAG & HOLLYWOOD NOSTALGIA:
MY MOVIE MEMORABILIA
by S. Rizzuto
While I was a child my father started scrapbooks devoted to the movie industry. Later when I was a teen I started one for the film "Lawrence of Arabia." I collected everything I could get my hands on regarding the film: magazine articles about the film--the actors--the filming of it; clippings from the newspapers, ads for the film, ticket stubs ( I watched it 55 times!); photos from the film and the actors; and much more. I started it in 1962 and worked on it until the late 1970s. I still have it.
Besides the scrapbook, I collected the record album for the film plus a few other versions of the music. I also bought two copies of the souvenir book sold at the theater during the film's first run (duing the 1950s & 60s such items were commonly sold at theaters) and the 30th Anniversary book. I also bought a poster. During the 1960s I do not think scripts of films were commonly available. Since the 1980s they are readily available. Normally, I would have purchased one for the film but after I viewed the film 10 times I was able to write out the entire script. It took 67 pages. Recently I discovered one could download a copy of the script (for free) on the Internet (what an invention!).
I also created a Beatles scrapbook during the 1960s. It
was a foot high! Unfortunately, it was lost when my mother sold our
bookshop. I forgot it there. I sometimes wonder who has it
I collected endless movie magazines, scifi & fantasy/horror/mystery mags & small press zines, comics, posters, stills, gum cards, buttons, videos, etc. My best items are part of a Sherlock Holmes collection which includes books, zines, my own "SH" zine, comics, stills, buttons, etc. and my most prized item, Basil Rathbone's autobiography, In And Out Of Character.
My neverending interest in movie nostalgia inspired me to start this publication in the early 1990s (in print). I put the publication on hold until I relocated and then I decided to learn how to create a zine online.
From HOLLYWOOD NOSTALGIA #2:
THE SILENCE OF HOLLYWOOD
"Still wonderful, isn't it? And no dialogue, we didn't need dialogue, we had faces! There aren't any faces like that, maybe one Garbo. Those idiot producers, those imbeciles, haven't they got any eyes? Have they forgotten what a star looks like?"--Norma Desmond, from Billy Wilder's classic, "Sunset Boulevard," starring Gloria Swanson.
Living in Hollywood, you tend to become enthralled, amazed by what is, what will be, and my favorite part, what was. As I stroll down Hollywood Boulevard along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, I observe so much and see things that most people do not realize ever existed. I see buildings that used to be major historical landmarks when the city was in its prenatal state in the early teens and twenties. I see parking lots and supermarkets where major silent film studios used to stand, studios that produced such greats as The Keystone Cops, Mack Sennett, Mabel Normand, Rudolph Valentino, and much more. I now see all of this in my mind.
Hollywood has changed, is changing, and unfortunately will continue to change. As I walk down the Hollywood Walk of Fame, there are many "stars," one after the other. I notice names that are as familiar as my own, I see their faces, I know what films they were in and how wonderful they are and were. I see the silent names, the stars of people who have been forgotten by time and sound. These are the stars whom many people wonder about, "Why are these stars here, I've never heard of them?" If they only knew that they were the ones who produced Hollywood and made it what it was and is today. The silent stars were the birth of Hollywood.
With the silent screen stars' talents and lifestyles, Hollywood(land) was created and made the capital and the idealization of the entire world. They were the beginning of Hollywood's "royalty." These, mostly common people, were the "kings" and "queens" of what we now know today as the "movie star." Thus, the era of the silent screen stars created the ambassadors of people's dreams and fantasies. What is "today" leaves nothing to the imagination; the silent stars were imagination and larger than life. Going to the movie theater then was a major outing that everyone enjoyed.
Considering there were so many stars in the silent era, how many today can be named immediately from memory? Rudolph Valentino, Gloria Swanson, Charlie Chaplin, Dorothy and Lillian Gish, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., Mabel Normand, Mary Pickford. How many more were there? How many more had careers that began Hollywood and began an entire change in people's thinking, their beliefs, ideals, lifestyles, fads, dress, and bathtub gin? Who were these people, how long were they around, and where are they now?
There are some remote parts of Hollywood where the silence is piercing and you can feel how it was in the beginning. You can see and hear Tom Mix riding over the range and you can experience "The Birth of A Nation." You can hear the sounds that are all still there in the silence of Hollywood. Once I was enjoying some of this silence when suddenly I thought, or rather imagined, Rudolph Valentino, riding on his horse as "The Sheik." I was there and he was there, and for that one brief flickering moment old Hollywood had been reborn.
In this new era of "Give me Bronson and blood, Rambo and bombs, and Rocky and fists," it is nice to see the silents, when a man came on a white horse and carried off his love. What happened after that was left to your own imagination, that reality was not as vivid and as frustrating as it is in today's films. The madness was taken away and substituted by the dreams.
In some cases art imitates life, and today sometimes the so-called art is too real. In the past, life was often improved by art.
Recently, with thanks to my local Public Broadcasting Station, I had the pleasure of watching the 1924 silent classic, "The Thief of Baghdad," made by United Artists starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., and was totally amazed at the spectacle of it. An entire city was designed and built on the studio back lot. The sets, costumes, special effects, etc. were amazing even by today's standards and modern technology. This was a $2 million production which obviously was a lot of money for those days as compared to what it would probably cost to produce such a spectacle today. I think that many of today's producers and directors should and could learn from this film what a spectacle really is before they spend millions that may never be returned at the box office. It was spectacles like these, that proved Hollywood was the dream factory of the silent era. This was the pioneering of the ideas that still exist today in the motion picture industry. Instead of vocally expressing ideas before the camera, the silent film star had to show what was meant with the use of facial expressions and body language. They thus literally invented screen acting. Lillian Gish portrayed tragedy, Mary Pickford innocence, Rudolph Valentino male animalism, Theda Bara vamping, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. action, Gloria Swanson glamour, and Charlie Chaplin portrayed comedy. Pioneer directors such as D.W. Griffith and Cecille B. DeMille were kings of the spectacle. Charlie Chaplin and Mack Sennett were the kings of comedy. Studios were eventually formed by some stars who wanted to get away from the rule and power of directors and producers. One of the first such mergers were the joining of Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and Mary Pickford, who then formed United Artists.
The silent spectacle was not only on the screen, but in the private lives of the stars. Gloria Swanson's return from France after her marriage was one spectacle that is still remembered by some. While in France she became deathly ill, due to a botched abortion, which was not revealed to the public. On her return home, she was given a Queen's return welcome by millions of her adoring fans. The world hung on a thread to each word of news about Gloria's illness and recovery. When she returned to the states, the public was then happy, because Gloria would now return to the screen. When Rudolph Valentino died suddenly while in New York, the world mourned, their god of the screen had left them. Some people in fact committed suicide upon hearing the news; songs were written for The Sheik; there was in fact a "New Star in The Heaven" on that night. His body was viewed by the public on his return by train back to Hollywood, as many as would be for a President. "The Sheik" had died and left his people. There is still a major spectacle at his tomb even today, sixty years after his death. The woman in black (although not the original) still visits his tomb. One wonders after the emergence of sound if Valentino would have had a successful transformation to the talkies. Most doubt this, and he may have faded into celluloid oblivion as did countless other silent matinee idols of the twenties.
Women of the twenties especially followed the trails of the stars. When a new hair style was worn, for example Colleen Moore's bob, the beauty salons would be packed with women ready for the change. Rich and poor alike had one thing in common with today's people, that they still have their escape into the movies.
Hollywood in the twenties was an age of desperation. People were desperate to find the good life, and those who came to Hollywood and found stardom usually changed their names. The publicity departments went wild with sensationalistic stories of the celebrities' torrid or unusual past; little girl from middle America would usually wind up becoming an exiled princess from a European country. Those who did come to Hollywood in the early days and made it as stars had to handle life on their own terms. Some handled it well while others destroyed themselves. Popularity and the freedom proved too much. Mabel Normand was one of the many who died at an early age. Many more were to follow. They lived too fast and died too soon, unlike those who took life slow and easy and were able to keep and enjoy what they had.
Most of the stars of the silent era did not make it into sound, due to many reasons. One was that their voices may not have been suited for sound and were too high for some male stars and too low for some female stars. Some spoke with thick accents, and some just could not handle the change. Most of their careers were cut short. The few who did make the change became major stars of the thirties and forties, as did Greta Garbo. It was the silent stars who created what we know today as "Hollywood."
The stage stars of the time tended to look down on the screen as the lower class of actors. However, as film took over as the top form of popular entertainment, even the stars of the stage made the change to the screen, liking it or not. The stage actors at one time said, "Screen actors didn't act for films, only posed."
Lillian Gish once said, "You have to start with the curtain down and then go on from there once the camera started. With music and silent film you have a universal language, a tear is a tear and a smile is a smile."
MAJOR FILMS OF THE SILENT ERA
"THE SQUAW MAN" - 1913, Dir. by Cecille B. DeMille, starring Dustin Farnum
"BIRTH OF A NATION" - 1915, Dir. by D.W. Griffith, starring Lillian Gish
"INTOLERANCE" - 1916, Dir. by D.W. Griffith, starring Mae Marsh
"THE MARK OF ZORRO" - 1920, Dir. by Fred Niblo, starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.
"THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD" - 1924, Dir. by Raoul Walsh, starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.
"MANHANDLED" - 1924, Dir. by Allan Dwan, starring Gloria Swanson
"THE GOLD RUSH" - 1925, Directed/Written/Produced/Starring Charlie Chaplin
"THE EAGLE" - 1925, Dir. by Clarence Brown, starring Rudolph Valentino
"THE GREAT GATSBY" - 1926, Dir. by Herbert Brenon, starring Warner Baxter
"SON OF THE SHEIK" - 1926, Dir. by George Fitzmaurice, starring Rudolph Valentino
"IT" - 1927, Dir. by Clarence Badger, starring Clara Bow
"WINGS" - 1927, Dir. by William A. Wellman, starring Charles "Buddy" Rodgers
IMPORTANT DATES OF THE SILENT ERA
1894: Horace Henderson Wilcox bought 120 acres to establish a country home and named his ranch Hollywood.
1911: October, Hollywood's first studio was opened by the Centaur Company.
1912: Adolph Zukor founded Famous Players Company.
1914: Charlie Chaplin made his film debut in Keystone's "MAKING A LIVING."
1915: PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE became Hollywood's major voice to the American film public.
1920: Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. married Mary Pickford. Their house, "Pickfair" became Hollywood's Buckingham Palace.
1923: Greta Garbo was introduced to the American public.
1925: Gloria Swanson returns home to America from France after nearly dying.
1926: Rudolph Valentino dies of "peritonitis complications" in New York; the nation mourns.
"THE JAZZ SINGER,"
the first feature film with synchronized sound and
dialogue. The careers of the silent stars were about to change, and for most,
they were ended.
SOUND HAD COME AND AN ERA HAD ENDED.
From REALM OF THE VAMPIRE #21:
OCCULT HORROR WAS HIS SPECIALITY
British writer, Dennis Wheatley, is one of my favorite horror writers. Though he wrote a large volume of books only a small portion of them are classified as occult horror or supernatural thrillers. The rest are mainly mainstream mysteries and adventures. Wheatley lived to age eighty and wrote for about half of his life. His life spanned the later part of the nineteenth century and more than three-fourths of the twentieth. He was greatly influenced by the times in which he grew up and it is evidenced in his writings. He served in the British military and was a member of the upper class. His writings consist of novels, short stories, historical, and autobiographical works. Some of Wheatley's more well known books are: The Devil Rides Out, To the Devil a Daughter, The Satanist, The Haunting of Toby Jugg, The Ka of Gifford Hillary, The Quest of Julian Day, and Strange Conflict. Several of them were part of his "Black Magic" series and had exceptionally creepy cover art mostly in red with black covers and a skull logo at the top.
Some of Wheatley's favorite themes centered on dangerous satanic cults involving the Nazis or Communists. He claimed to have vast knowledge of the occult and to have attended many satanic rituals However, he always denied any involvement with them. Considering the fact that he always portrayed them as evil it is probably doubtful he was ever a member of any cult. However, why they allowed him access to some of their meetings considering the fact that he wrote negative things about them, though in the guise of fiction, is certainly a puzzlement. Could it be that his knowledge was only second hand and questionable? The truth may never be known. No matter. Though Wheatley's novels are written in a somewhat dated style and some of the plots are outlandish and unbelievable, his works are highly entertaining. For a good read on a dark and stormy night his novels are just the ticket.
Unfortunately, Wheatley's books aren't easy to find. Many are out-of-print and the others are not widely distributed (at least not in the U.S.). It takes some research in tracking them down at a used bookshop or using a search service to locate them. Perhaps, contacting a British book-seller would be useful.
Two of Wheatley's novels were adapted to film: "The Devil Rides Out" starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and "To the Devil a Daughter" with Christopher Lee and Natasha Kinski. While the first one, a typical Hammer production, does have some interesting moments, the latter is boring and not well made.
A word of caution regarding Wheatley's works should be noted. Wheatley was a product of his time and place. He was a somewhat of a diehard British Imperialist and stauch anti-Communist. By current standards his works are considered to contain racist elements. However, Wheatley's works should be enjoyed and appreciated in spite of his shortcomings as an individual. He was one heck of a storyteller, and it is unfortunate that he isn't much remembered for his accomplishments as a writer.
MORE TO COME!