Press Release from Marcher Lord Press

(January 6, 2010, Colorado Springs, CO)--Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction, today announced the results of their first ever on-line competition for book authors. Thirty six authors competed in the full manuscript event and 49 authors vied in the premise event. Over 2000 people participated as readers, authors, and or voters in the contest.

“Authors from the Netherlands to New Zealand participated in this ‘by invitation only’ contest,” said publisher Jeff Gerke. “Our winning manuscript was The Sending by Matt Koceich of Mansfield, Texas. The Sending will be published in our Spring 2010 release. The top three finishers in the premise only contest all receive fast track acquisitions reading for their full manuscript. The three are Dreamwalker by Gerald Sims, The Haunting of Cowhole Mountain by Michael Johnson, and I am Ocilla by Diane M. Graham.”

Several members of the Lost Genre Guild also participated: Andrea Graham with Genesis of Judgement, A.L. Marquardt with Traitors, Keanan Brand with Dragon's Rook, and Grace Bridges with Legendary Space Pilgrims.

In the initial round of this “American Idol meets book acquisitions” contest, voters were presented with the book’s title, a premise, and other introductory information. In successive rounds voters received larger glimpses of the surviving submissions. In the final round of the manuscript contest, voters were able to read the first 60 pages of the three finalists. In the premise event, voters had access to the first 500 words of the ten finalists.

Contest entrant Paul Baines of the Netherlands said, “… every word in the hook, blurb, and synopsis counts. You can't assume anything about what the reader will think.”

The contest message boards gave participants the opportunity to praise, question, and critique different entries. “Since the contests began, I feel like I've been on a journey with fellow saints,” said Matt Koceich, the manuscript division winner. “We all arrived by different paths, but because of Jeff's vision, we've had the blessing of being able to walk a while, side by side encouraging, supporting, teaching, and caring.”

Premise contest co-winner Diane Graham said, “…I have learned that every detail matters. You only get one chance to shine when your book goes before an agent/editor.”

“There's a great, diverse community of creative Christian writers and encouraging Christian readers on the [contest] forum,” Kent Smaciarz of Seattle said. “Writing can be a lonely vocation--so it's great to check-in and see others have their hand to the plow.”
"Of course I was pleased to see the increased visibility Marcher Lord Press received as a result of this experiment," Gerke says, "but the thing that thrilled me the most was how the participants came together as a mutually encouraging instant family. It was a surprise and a blessing to watch it unfold."

Marcher Lord Press is a Colorado Springs-based independent publisher producing Christian speculative fiction exclusively. See the www.marcherlordpress.com website for information on their nine current novels and Jeff’s book, The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction. Contact: Jeff Gerke; www.marcherlordpress.com.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to know how Marcher Lord's sales figures are doing.

Not necessarily dissing Jeff, but anyone can claim they're the "premier publisher of anything". I've seen too much of similar-sounding claims in the past, from Furry small-press to the whole dot-com boom-and-bust ten years ago, where The Internet made all existing businesses Obsolete.

How is Marcher Lord stacking up against other publishers, and how much royalty income are its authors seeing?

Are they able to fight uphill against the Napster generation who expect everything (especially on the Net to be FREE?

Are they making any inroads into the publishing market in general?

Are they getting distribution in bookstores as well as the Web?
(I've heard agents say about prior publication, "If your book is only available from your website, you're NOT professionally published." Type example one Gloria Tesch, Self-Described Child Prodigy Fantasy Author.) When everybody with a DSL and Website can claim to be An Author and their self/vanity-pub as The Next Best-Seller, how can you tell the wheat from the chaff?

Jeff Gerke said...

Hi, Anonymous. Thanks for your comments. I appreciate that you're so passionate in support of Christian speculative fiction.

As to the tagline for the company, I suppose I could've chosen "The newest publisher of Christian speculative fiction," but that didn't have the same ring and would've been true for only a short while. Besides, if you're going to stake out territory, why not go for it all? That's just good marketing strategy. But do you feel the claim is not merited? Which publishing company that produces nothing but Christian speculative fiction would better fit that tagline?

As for royalties and sales figures, those are of course things best kept to the folks who need to know. However, I can say that the business model I have in place appears to be sustainable for the long term and my authors are happy. I'm about to send out royalty checks for last quarter, in fact. One is for an amount greater than any single royalty check I ever received for my own writing.

Your other questions--Napster, inroads in publishing, distribution in bookstores--seem to reflect a misunderstanding of what I'm trying to do with Marcher Lord Press. Of course I'd welcome such developments, but I'm not pursuing them. This is niche publishing--micropublishing, even--and it's working, at least for now. I'm not trying to show those other publishers a thing or two or even get into bookstores (the discounts they demand would kill me and they'd make take returns, which I won't do). Why bother?

As far as not being professionally published if it's not through a traditional house or available in bookstores, I'd say that's true from the traditional understanding of publishing. However, we're living in a publishing revolution right now, similar to the MP3 download revolution that has so changed the older model of buying CDs. It's a great day for small presses and niche publishers (and authors)--and their readers, but it's very different from what went before.

As for telling the wheat from the chaff, that's always been hit or miss, even in the old model. I've read truly awful books from major New York publishers and I've read amazing books from niche publishers. Even then, you couldn't judge based on the source.

But you're right: it will be more of a YouTube model. The excellent ones still find their way to the top, but there's a lot of garbage to sift through too.

Whether we like it or not or welcome it or not, this change is upon us. It may be smarter to try to thrive in the new way than try to bring back the old way.