If you’ll indulge me for a moment: please pick up your wine glass, water bottle or coffee mug. I want to raise a high toast to a great publisher.
This year marks Raw Dog Screaming Press’ fifth anniversary. Anyone who knows the independent press, knows that simply surviving that long — especially in today’s publishing economy — is a true milestone of success. I’m proud to be one of their authors, an early runt of their raw puppy litter — and when I think about how far they’ve gone to support my experiments in horror, I am not only humbled, but also proud to be a part of their efforts to push the envelope of the genre, if not literature itself. Not only do they persistently take risks on some very edgy work (“A Child’s Guide to Death” anyone?), but they also go out of their way to promote their titles and support their authors in creative ways.
“What we wanted to do was publish the unpublishable, put out books that other publishers wouldn’t touch because they cross genres, mix conventions or just don’t play by the rules,” co-publisher Jen Barnes writes about their origins, in a retrospection on their livejournal. Now, almost five years later, Raw Dog Screaming has published 18 novels, 14 collections (including 2 books of poetry), 10 anthologies and one CD/audiobook.
I’ve been very lucky to have them as a literary partner over these five years. Two of our books together were Stoker award finalists and the one that remains in print — 100 Jolts — continues to be a very popular book. My second novel, Play Dead, was too experimental for the mainstream press, but Raw Dog grabbed it in its slobbery jaws and ran with it: they not only printed Play Dead in both a fine limited hardcover and an amazingly sculpted “Grim Grimoire” edition, but also created a deck of custom-illustrated playing cards (highly collectable now) to go along with it — AND they hosted a charity poker game party at World Horror Convention to debut the book! The fact that this novel sold out its complete run in hardcover says a lot about the commitment that John Lawson and Jen Barnes at RDSP have to their authors.
If you haven’t been reading their books, you should give their catalog a look-see. They relish the experimental — from Harold Jaffe’s “docufictions” to D. Harlan Wilson’s outrageously funny brand of the bizarro. My 100-story collection, 100 Jolts, is another great example of books that other publishers probably would be too afraid to touch. A single-author collection, filled with short-shorts, some no longer than a paragraph? Unheard of. But creative risks like these pay off, because readers are actually hungry for fresh angles and tired of the same old story. Jolts was successful enough to recently be re-released in a hardcover edition with bonus material — and if that wasn’t enough, they went beyond the pale to supplement it with a CD of musically-enhanced readings, in Audiovile! This indulgence of my musical and oratorical performances is quite remarkable, I think, and it says a lot that the Raw Dog is willing to sniff its gory nose around diverse new media territories, hungry for blood. Seriously: how many publishers really cultivate the artistic side of their writers in such unique ways? I can think of…none. Raw Dog isn’t just printing books, they really care about the Arts — just look at their wild covers, or their recent reaches into children’s picture books, and it quickly becomes self-evident: they’re twisted, but they care about creativity.
So John and Jen (and Ripley) at Raw Dog Screaming Press: here’s to you!
To celebrate, RDSP is hosting a 5 year anniversary party at HorrorFind Weekend in the Baltimore area this coming August. I’m going to be there, along with several other members of the Raw Dog pack: presently, D. Harlan Wilson, Adam Golaski, John Edward Lawson, Donna Lynch & Stephen Archer, Ronald Damien Malfi, John Edward Lawson, and Matthew Warner are all scheduled to appear, with readings, parties, and other fun events. To quote the evil dead: “Join ussss!”
To pop the champagne early, they are offering Goreletter readers an exclusive discount on Audiovile — their first audiobook, by yours truly. You can get a copy directly from Raw Dog Screaming.