Sat
May 2 2009 3:01pm

Memo to Myself: Do the Dumb Things I Gotta to Do, Touch the Puppet Head

Invariably, I’m asked, “So what prompted you to start a publishing company?” This happens at conventions, in interviews, and by concerned family members. It’s a loaded question, because what they mean to ask is “Are you nuts? Do you enjoy losing money? It’ll only end in tears and you’ll probably be the one left crying.”

I liken it to the ‘train wreck’ scenario. People can’t look away from a good disaster. People can’t help themselves but to wonder.

In the four years since I started my adventures in small press publishing, I still can’t give a direct, concise answer as to why I started a publishing company. Part of it comes down to having a career crisis. In 2005, I was working in a dead end job as an I/T support specialist for the city government’s division of risk management. I’d also just turned 30. I could see myself troubleshooting risk management software for the rest of my life, never making waves, never making a difference, and that depressed me. Making sure somebody is getting their workman’s comp payments is a good thing, but it’s not something that gives a person joy or pride—at least not this person.

I wanted to combine something I enjoyed with something that could be a positive influence on others.

Then, one day, while browsing the Shocklines forum (a popular site for horror fans), I noticed a topic of the sort that stated that the short fiction print market was dead. I wondered, “Is this true?” For a long time, I’d dismissed the problems of the ‘big 3’ digests as their inability to leave the Jurassic age (particularly in presentation and design). I formulated a plan for an edgier, more visually appealing digest, wrote up a business plan, bummed some money from a bank, and set forth to prove the naysayers wrong.

So the best answer to “Why did you do it?” comes down to two things: being unhappy and being stubborn. Apex Digest ran for twelve issues, reaching a circulation of nearly 5,000 when the last issue hit the stands. Eventually, time and money forced me to retire the print version of the digest. While I consider the magazine to be a partial success (mostly held back by my inexperience running a small business), others might argue otherwise. All I know is that I had a blast working with authors, editors, and artists.

In 2008, I decided to change the direction of Apex and focus on book publishing. Our first book was Jennifer Pelland’s well-regarded SF collection Unwelcome Bodies, containing her Nebula Award-nominated story “Captive Girl.” In short, we kicked off our book division with a naked man on the cover and haven’t looked back since.

4 comments
Sara M. Harvey
1. Sara M. Harvey
Very nice, Boss, any post that starts with a They Might Be Giants song reference ROCKS MY STRIPED SOCKS!
Glad to be on the Team Apex!
Sara M. Harvey
2. RobMRobM
I also clicked into the link because of the TMBG lyric in the title. Nicely done. Just so long as you didn't use "Cause alienation's for the rich and I'm gettin poorer every day...hey, hey, hey."

I'll keep an eye out for your works. Rob
Patrick Garson
3. patrickg
Great post, Jason, and kudos for striving to do something you love.
Jason Sizemore
4. apexjason
I sort of felt the lyric's (and the song's) meaning related to why I started Apex, so it was a good match. :)

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