A long and fascinating article by Adam Cesare in Cemetery Dance, makes the case that the new generation of indie publishers and self-publishers are the new B-movies of literature. And he produces a fine crop of small but edgy publishers to show exactly why the B-movie tag is one to wear with pride.
As Cesare tells it, “in its original usage, ‘B-movie’ meant a movie that accompanied an A-picture, it was something cheaper to produce to fill out a double bill. So this first label didn’t denote genre, it just meant economical matinee filler.” And as he transposes this to apply to modern publishing, he means: “they’ve begun to function in a similar way, both through the amount of product flooding the market and how beholden (and in some cases remarkably un-beholden) the market has become to trends and subgenres.” And in some cases, the new indie publishers have reached “that special alchemy of art and commerce that only the best B-movies reach. So, yes, there’s way more bad stuff out there than good, but that’s why it’s such an apt metaphor.”
As any movie buff will tell you, many B-movies are now classics in their own right and a part of cinema history. So it’s a somewhat flattering comparison as well as an apt one. Cesare singles out publishers in the spheres that will appeal to Cemetery Dance readers. There’s Eraserhead Press and its sub-brands, “one of the premier publishers of bizarro fiction.” There’s Australia’s Severed Press, which “finds the niches that Kindle readers are craving and then exploits them,” drilling down into sub-sub-sub genres of very specific horror. And then there’s Ross Lockhart’s Word Horde, a cross-genre and widely respected outfit whose B-grade productions approach serious literary merit in many, many cases. Cesare also cites ” Sinister Grin Press, StrangeHouse Books, Perpetual Motion Machine, Bizarro Pulp Press, DarkFuse, Dynatox Ministires, to name a few.”
If that’s just one roundup of one small segment of current indie publishing, albeit one that plays well to new reading and e-reading habits, you can see how vibrant the broader indie landscape is. And like the original B-movie category, their success says a lot about the economics of modern publishing, and what can work in the new post-Amazon market. So pull up at the drive-in and pass the popcorn. It’s going to be a fun ride before the main feature.