Friday, May 19, 2023

Taking Charge of My Career

I've written a lot of books for a lot of publishers. I've been published by the biggest ones--Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Macmillan--and by some of the smaller ones. I like the advance money from the big ones, and I still get some nice royalties now and again for a young-adult quartet I wrote for S&S. But beyond that, there can be some frustrations when dealing with the big guys.

I've also been published by smaller houses, which are usually friendlier. And honestly, the bigger ones aren't interested in Western fiction anymore. Five Star folded up its tent, except for the occasional large-print book for library sales. Kensington hasn't said what'll happen there when Gary Goldstein finally retires, but I don't have high hopes. I wrote six novels in 18 months for Wolfpack Publishing, which--along with a very demanding day job and family responsibilities, wore me out. The best novel-publishing experience I've had lately was when your friends and mine, the wonderful Livia Reasoner and Cheryl Pierson at Sundown Press, published my Peacemaker-finalist novel Blood and Gold: The Legend of Joaquin Murrieta.

But I was itching to take matters into my own hands. Talking with a friend in the same boat--Howard Weinstein, whose wonderful historical Western Galloway's Gamble, a Peacemaker winner, was published by Five Star (which wanted a sequel, but then closed the door on him before he could finish it)--we decided to try something a little bit different. We have another batch of friends who run a writer's cooperative publishing outfit called Crazy 8 Press, where they mostly published science fiction, fantasy, and "New Pulp" adventure fiction. They had never published Westerns, but they're lovers of genre fiction, as are Howard and I. So we all decided to launch a new Western imprint through Crazy 8, and Silverado Press was born!

Silverado Press officially launches on May 30, which is the publication date for its debut title, my short-story collection Byrd's Luck & Other Western Stories.
The book contains my Peacemaker and Spur finalist story "Byrd's Luck," first published by the Western Fictioneers, and a sequel to that story, "Byrd's Law," that teams Byrd up with Cody Cavanaugh, the protagonist of my Wolfpack series. There are some other reprints, several of which have been published in anthologies from our fine organization, and some from other anthologies. Half of the stories are traditional Westerns and half are weird Westerns, a subgenre I've been associated with since the mid-1990s. The book's final story is a prose story based on a weird-Western comic book series I wrote called Desperadoes, which ran from 1997 to 2007.

It's kind of hybrid publishing, I guess--essentially self-publishing, but within the established infrastructure of Crazy 8. Everybody helps promote everybody else's work, in-house people handle book design and some of the marketing, but I get to make most of my own decisions and sink or swim on my own abilities. Howard's Galloway's Gamble 2 will be along in a couple of months, the sequel to Galloway's Gamble. After that, who knows? Silverado Press isn't just the two of us--anybody who's interested can submit a proposal to the Crazy 8 gang (Howard and I don't have editorial control over anything but our own work) and see if it flies. Ideally, we'll be another outlet for Western fiction, in a field that's been contracting faster than it's growing.

I'm indebted to the Western Fictioneers for jump-starting my moribund Western writing career when you published "Byrd's Luck" to such acclaim, and for the friendships I've found here. I wanted to be sure to get my somewhat-monthly blog post in this time, to ensure that you'd all see the news, and to invite you to join us at Silverado Press if it seems like something you're interested in. I don't know if we'll make any money...but if not, it won't be for lack of trying!


  1. Good to always see new publishing opportunities.

    Wish you much luck.

    Sell millions!
    Charlie Steel

  2. Jeff, that is just awesome! I'm so happy for you! This sounds like a perfect venture (and ADVENTURE!) for you, and for many others of us who might want to send something to Silverado. I'm so glad you blogged about this and told us about it. That is a fantastic cover, too-- really nice.

    Thanks so much for the very kind words for Livia and me and Sundown Press. We were so honored to publish your story, Blood and Gold: The Legend of Joaquin Murrieta. That is such a gripping tale.

    Wishing you all the very best with the new publishing house. I'm so glad there's another western publisher out there now, and I love the name you all chose!

  3. Thank you, Cheryl! I've published with so many different houses, and I've come to really appreciate working with people I respect and can form genuine friendships with. Working with you two was truly one of the best experiences of my professional life.