Saturday, July 28, 2007
Cemetery Dance Publications is the biggest and most successful small press horror publisher in business today. As such, they are an easy target for criticism. And of course, they are not without blame.
CD is behind on quite a few book publications and some customers are justifiably concerned, if not downright angry. I've been in communication with CD and they are determined to get everything in order and up to date.
Most have heard about a long illness and death in the family of CD boss, Richard Chizmar. Yes, that can be viewed as an excuse, but I for one completely understand. I lost my own brother to cancer last year and I know just how devastating and unbearable it is. And again, yes, business shouldn't suffer because of it, but CD is a small company. It's like a family business and I like that.
I think CD has learned from their mistakes. If you notice, they no longer announce books upon conception, but rather when they are about to go to the printer. There is a much shorter waiting period for them than in the old days. Some criticize that long-delayed books are on the back burner while new ones come to fruition. I guess it's easy to look at a business from the outside and say what should and what shouldn't be done, but I can't begin to imagine the numerous delays and problems in the production of a book. And Cemetery Dance does much bigger runs than most of the other publishers. Bigger runs, bigger problems.
It has been an enormously difficult year for Cemetery Dance and they have fallen behind on their schedule. But I know for a fact that they are busting their chops to get things right and I am confident that they'll catch up and stay caught up.
One big complaint about CD is their pre-ordering policies. They require payment in full for each sale. Most of the other companies do not charge until a book is ready to ship. Which is preferable?
Well, I kind of like paying in advance, if you can believe that. For an enthusiastic horror fan such as myself, it's easy to get in over my head with pre-ordering commitments. My Shocklines preorder list is finally getting lower, which is good. I used to look at it with a mixture of dread and anticipation. Mostly dread. When I pay in advance, it's so nice to get the book in the mail. It feels like I got it for free.
Shocklines was extremely convenient for a lot of us. You didn't pay in advance and you got a small discount in most of the cases. But when you are on CD's mailing list, you are advised of numerous sales and specials. It's not unheard of to save 40 or 50% on titles, which is not something you're liable to get from any secondary market.
I'm not happy that Shocklines is closing down. Not at all. But I am glad to be dealing direct with CD again. And I've heard hints of some incredible projects on the way that haven't been announced yet. I'm damned excited about what the future holds for Cemetery Dance and its writers and customers.
I said above that CD has learned from its mistakes. I think that the other publishers have also learned from the experiences and efforts of Richard Chizmar . CD blazed the trail for the current small press scene and they have given horror readers an unparalleled body of literature.
And then there is the magazine. I was crushed when The Twilight Zone Magazine folded, but Cemetery Dance was there soon after and it more than filled the vacant spot. The fiction, the articles and even the advertisements in CD are a wonderfully intimate look into the world of horror fiction. I became a Lifetime Subscriber over 10 years ago and I've never regretted that move.
If this sounds like I'm biased in favor of Cemetery Dance, that's because I am. I love the company and everything about it. Richard Chizmar and his employees are the best people in the world as far as I'm concerned. And while I'm not always in agreement about what is good in the current state of horror literature, the fiction that CD delivers is always top of the line. I'll take a chance on an untested writer if he or she is published by Cemetery Dance Publications. I can't say that about any other publisher.
One more thing: This plug is a labor of love and I am not in any way affiliated with Cemetery Dance. There is a banner on the message board of Horror Drive-In, with a link to CD's site. I do that out of love and support and I get no payment for it. Nor would I wish to.