The Peacemaker Awards competition has been announced, pursued, and closed as of January 15. In the process of the judging (for me, of Best Western Novel) still going on, I became interested in learning what I could about publishers of Western Fiction.
Book PublishersTwo search strings, “Book Publishers of Western Novels” and “Who Publishes Western Novels” turned up 41,900,000 and 17,800,000 hits respectively. At first, I could not figure out where they all came from.
Then,as I struggled to create a coherent 1,000 words out of this, I noticed that the results varied every time I logged off and came back to my search later under the same string. So, 41.9 million hits became 24 then 31 then 37. I switched strings and 17.8 became 8.1 then 12.
I stopped. What started out as an amusement had evolved into a suspicion. To fantasize about the time and energy to track down every one of them clearly would be a wasted fantasy (I am a subscriber to the belief that not all fantasies are wasted—in fact, they are necessary precursors to discovery) because whatever the search string algorithm was doing, it was doing it differently every time I logged on and off. Alas, it was all I could manage to try to figure out whether this was a subject that could even possibly hold enough interest for today’s first Monday.
I decided to focus on the first ten pages of results. That, at least, provided a tangible number out of which to create some kind of understanding. (About 15 listings per standard Google page, of which 4-5 were paid listings.)
So out of 100 assumed legitimate listings of “Book Publishers of Western Novels” I found—drumroll because you are not going to believe this—25 discrete names that I could identify as separate entities ready and able to publish western novels. Western Fictioneers was one of those discrete names. Both Amazon and Create Space were not, although a recently purchased company, now a subsidiary of Amazon, showed up on the list as an ongoing, independent company that publishes westerns.
While my instinct tells me this count is off by a factor of four, there are several aspects of this “discovery” (if such un-earthing of truly self-interested information can truly be labeled a discovery).
Agents, Books, Resources, Writers
So what do those 8 – 42 million hits really hit? Here is an impressionistic list. I gave up trying to be systematic.
Agents – to my great surprise, I found a list that identifies itself as “Western Literary Agents.” It listed 67 agents who accepted western novels, or more precisely, the writers of western novels. There are several sites that purport to tell writers all about agents but this one came as a surprise. (Since I have not vetted it, I do not show a link. Having said that, I will acknowledge that the agent I suspect is most well known representing Western authors was not on the list.)
Books – well, this really means Amazon. Think about how many categories, let alone books, are ordered under the word “western.” I suppose, although I did not test it, the “western novels” led the algorithm to identify everyone published and listed on Amazon.
Resources – now this was an unwelcome result that was truly useful. I had absolutely no expectation that I could start out with this (to my eye) pointed and limited question and turn up so many references to resources for writers. I suppose four trigger words—book…publishers…western…novels—scream out to the algorithm “We got a live one.”
Writers – and this one really surprised me. The search string turned up three very long, not entirely in agreement with each other, essays on the history of westerns, western literature, and western writing. It also turned up a compiled list of Western writers. Since I was looking for a compiled list of Western novel publishers I greedily swallowed this list whole. It lists 217 writers, living and dead, and a lot of Western Fictioneers. Among those names listed are those of many writers I personally know (and, blessedly, they are all still among the living.) Alas, coming as no great surprise, it does not list mine.
To bring this all back where it started. The Peacemaker Awards competition is well underway. Until it is over, it is not appropriate to identify or comment on the publishers who made these 2015 entries possible—except to say it is wonderful that there are book publishers of Western novels.
E-mail Edward Massey with comments, author of 2014 Gold Quill winner, Every Soul Is Free and Amazon ABNA 2009 Quarter-finalist, Telluride Promise.