The ReviewerBill Kieffer‘s website.
Let me introduce to you to Weasel of Weasel Press, a Beat Publisher still trying to this crazy world of indy publishing. Weasel may think of himself as a "degenerate writer and overall asshole," but he takes the world of words seriously. He's not out to get rich, so much as to enrichen.
Of course, Weasel did publish my first book, The Goat: Building The Perfect Victim under his Red Ferret Press imprint. My opinion just might be biased.
Weasel on his bookshelf:
I’ve read most of the books on this shelf. The top has some WP releases, then some anthologies I’ve received. No particular order there. The rest is alpha by Author and book size. The first few books you see are small pocket book sizes then it graduates from there. I don’t have a reading schedule, but I’m sure I’ll get to reading what I haven’t looked at soon.
On Weasel Press
Please describe Weasel Press briefly and what genre(s) do you serve?
Weasel Press is full of gruff and degenerate literature. We publish beat fiction. Modern Kerouacs and Bukowski’s of the world. We don’t have a set genre, but we’ve dabbled in Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Erotica, Poetry, and Furry. Our main is Literary Fiction. If it strikes us like Burrough’s novel Junky we’re probably interested.
On top of Weasel Press we also have our erotic imprint Red Ferret Press, which has the same values just dealing with the grungier sides of sexual encounters. There’s no Fabio’s or 50 Shades there. It’s a bit more down to earth. A bit more real.
How did you come to found Weasel Press? What titles and writers did you start with?
I can’t remember how many times I’ve told this story, haha! We started out as a literary magazine called Vagabonds: Anthology of the Mad Ones back in 2012. It ran for two years (still running to this day, actually), then one of the contributors, Manna Plourde asked if we were going to open for Full Book submissions. It took a lot of research but by 2014 we opened up. Our first book was Manna’s Ribbon and Leviathan. We then acquired Vixyy Fox’s Reach for the Sky, and Neil S. Reddy’s Tales in Liquid Time. Which are great starts. In our first year we had about 10 books pushed out.
How focused is your company on Beat Fiction? How do you define what you are looking for? What happens when you come across a great story to isn't in your wheelhouse?
When we first started, we just took any genre that entertained us. But if you go through our books you’ll see they have something in common. They explore the current human condition. Which is essentially Beat. Beat doesn’t stay in Lit Fiction, it branches out all over. Think of Beat like the Sermon on the Mount: Blessed are the Poor. Each one of our writers is mad to live. Mad to love. Over the years we’ve focused Weasel Press and our imprints to this specifically.
Do you have a staff? Can you introduce us?
We do have a staff. A staff who has published with us and they have volunteered their time to help Weasel Press become what it is today. They are:
Myself – Main Dude
Emily Ramser – Poetry Editor
Sendokidu Adomi – Fiction Editor
David E. Cowen – Consultant and Poetry Editor
You can find their bios in our Staff Page.
Tales of Yourself
Tell us a bit about yourself before you put on your publisher hat. Where were you raised? How did you relate to others from your age group?
My name’s Weasel. I got my Bachelor of Arts in Literature and I now use the damn thing as a piece of scrap paper fueling Weasel Press and our projects. I’ve published quite a few books with some publishers, most are now out of print. I do have two current books: “a warm place to self-destruct, (Self-Published),” and “We Live for Half-Moons (Thurston Howl Publications).” I don’t like to talk much about my childhood. All I can say about it is that it happened and now I’m here. I got into literature in late high school early college. I was going to be a horror writer, that is until I found the Beats. The first time I read Ginsberg’s Howl my heart stopped. I went crazy. I started writing beat literature. I don’t know how well I’m doing, but I write a bit of furry lit as well. I try to have a Burrough’s take on Furry or a Bukowski take on Furry. I’ve just not seen a furry Kerouac haha! Aside from that I’m mainly a poet and I fight hard for poetry as it doesn’t get a lot of respect nowadays. But we need it, more than ever.
What did you read before you even thought of publishing? How did becoming a publisher change your reading habits?
I was an H.P. Lovecraft fan for a long time. I still am. I also ready Arthur C. Clarke, then I found Hubert Selby Jr. I filled my shelves with Clive Barker titles, George Orwell (yes, something other than Animal Farm and 1984), Kerouac Titles, Ginsberg, and issues of a furry comic book by the name of Circles. That last one got me through some tough times with my folks, being gay and all. You know the stories, same deal here.
When I became a publisher, reading for pleasure tanked. Trying to fix that now actually. I read mostly submissions for a year or so, and though I enjoyed a good few of them, it’s nice to get away from analyzing how it will affect your press.
What do your friends and family think of your publishing endeavors? Are they supportive? Have they tried to hold an intervention? Or do you find yourself reminding them of your true calling?
I have a day job that pays the bills. If I didn’t I’d imagine the family would be pissed off. Other than that I don’t talk about the press much with them.
Has becoming a publisher change you or your social life in any way?
What social life? HAHA! In all honesty it has hindered my social life a bit. All I talk about is books. I try to attend writers groups for personal writing, but you know, Weasel Press just steps in haha!
On Readers & Fans
How do you reach out to your readership? Do you have a forum? A newsletter? Pen-pals?
We’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. We’ve become a part of the Furry Writers Guild to reach out to furs, but without a large Furry Convention presence, we don’t get much traction. I run a newsletter, and hope to be large enough to have a forum one day.
What is the typical fan of Weasel Press? Do you even have a typical fan? Are your readers attracted to different authors (or imprints) differently? Or do your readers tend to be attracted to the whole she-bang?
The typical fan is what I call a “mad one” to steal from Kerouac, if I can. They get drunk off of art. They get drunk off of degeneracy. They need a home.
Fill in the blank: Readers who like __BLANK__ are going to your books?
Readers who like: William S. Burroughs, Hubert Selby Jr., Arthur C. Clarke, Andrea Gibson, Toni Morrison, Meggie Royer, will like our books.
If money was no object, which book(s) or author(s) would your readers demand that you publish?
Clive Barker, Andrea Gibson, Kay Ryan, are some names I can think of. Mostly, Weasel Press is underground, so we’d probably get more of the underground poets popular in Winter Tangerine Review, which is a stellar publication!
Tell me about some of your favourite authors that you have worked with.
I love all my authors. They’ve all been a pleasure to work with. Some folks just keep coming back and I think they’re crazy! Neil S. Reddy, David E. Cowen, Emily Ramser, Matthew David Campbell, Michael Prihoda. These guys just keep coming back and they keep producing gut punching and visually stunning material! They’re supporters as well as authors to Weasel Press and I couldn’t do a lot of this without them and the rest of the crew. And for that, I am forever thankful!
Without naming names, tell me what your worst author interaction was. Was bail money involved?
I’m professional, to a point. I’m not afraid to tell someone for fuck off if needed. I’ve gotten death threats before, haha! I’ve been called a fuckin’ stink weasel before.
In addition to being a publisher, do you offer any literary services for creators outside of your publishing company?
I personally offer editing and design services for self-published authors. These services have nothing to do with Weasel Press, but the extra money does help fuel some of the press' bills.
Even ebooks have to have covers. How much say do your creators have in selecting a cover artist? How much say in the layout and design?
My authors always have a say in their cover art and the interior process. If it’s not what they imagined, or what they like, why publish it? I’ve been in that situation. I’ve had two books come out not looking like how I thought it would and it’s disappointing to have to promote them. They’re out of print now, but I know the situation. If the author isn’t happy, it’s back to work until they are. We mostly use photo stocks for covers, however Weasel Press will pay up to $150 for cover, anything after is the author’s responsibility.
Do you have one perfect font for your books or do you work with the writer to find the best font for each book?
Never use Times New Roman. It’s kind of boring and standard when it comes to a printed book. I love Palatino Linotype, or Garamond. Those are my standards.
Most indie authors understand that they must do some marketing of their book, once it's published. If publishing was a pool and marketing was swimming, are you the doting parent that shows them video, buys them water-wings, and eases them in? Or are you more the uncle that throws them into the deep end with a slap on the ass and a hearty "Sink or Swim!" shout?
If an author asks for suggestions, we’ll offer them. We do our best to do some promoting on our end, but we leave it mostly up to the author to schedule their own tours and such. We provide author copies at a discount and say, have at it hoss. If an author is local for me, I’ll help them put together a reading.
Where do you recommend indie writers go to market their books? Are there any types of services that you suggest that they avoid?
You got to have facebook/twitter/Instagram/or some kind of social media. Without it you don’t really exist. That’s unfortunate, but it’s reality.
On Local Community Interaction
Do you, as a creator, reach out to local community groups or art guilds? Is there an active art community there? If so, do you interact with it in some way?
I’ve reached out to local writers groups here in Houston. They’re mostly interested in what we’ve published, and ask how we do things and such. It helps them self-publish their books. A lot of publishers feel that self-publishing is competition, and it is to some extent, but I’m all about whatever makes the author happy. As long as they’re hiring an editor and making the work look as professional as possible, then go for it! So far we’ve worked with:
Gulf Coast Poets
Pearland Writers Group
Friendswood Library’s Off the Page
Clear Lake Area Writers
Bay Area Writers League
Do you work with any local writers or know any? Does the area find its way into their work?
I’ve worked with several local Houston authors: Z.M. Wise, Happy Daze Poet, David E. Cowen, Billie Duncan, Chris Wise, and much more! We’re all part of the same literary scene so we find each other.
On Business Vs Passion, Publisher Vs Creator
Do you publish your own work? If so, do you handle the work differently from idea to distribution?
I’ve self-published one book. However, I never use the Weasel Press name. If I publish my own book it’s through WZL Productions.
How often to you get the chance to write for other markets? Do you do so grudgingly or do you prefer the change of pace?
I’m afraid publishing takes up most of my time. I’ve written for furry markets recently and I found it was an interesting change, and something I hope to continue to do.
What's your day publishing like? How many days or hours of publishing are you able to get in per week?
It’s practically a full time gig. Putting out fires. Editing and designing books. Right when I get home from my day job I start the night job and go to bed very late.
On That Damn Slush Pile
How often is your "open" period and where do writers find your latest story needs? Do you announce on sites like Horror Tree or Submittable?
We’re on a submission freeze at the moment, but I use Submittable. It’s a pain to pay the fees, but it keeps me organized. Most others probably just use email and spreadsheets, and that’s cool. But when you have 2 publications open and general subs open authors don’t always specify in their cover letter what they’re submitting to. So Submittable helps with that at least. We’re also on Duotrope.
What makes a good cover letter or query letter? What was the last one that really blew your mind and made you want to read the whole book? Do you have any examples of the worst?
Be honest in your letter. Name a couple publications but don’t make an essay of all the places you’ve been published. Give me enough to get a sense of you as a person and as an author (and yes, sometimes that can be two different things).
As for a great cover letter, Kat Lewis’ letter blew me away. She talked about how she started out with Vagabonds, and when she found our general subs she submitted. It was great to hear from her again and I’m happy to be publishing her book “In and of Blood” in 2017.
How do you dole out rejection letters? Do you ever say maybe with revisions?
My rejection letters are short and to the point. Authors complain about not getting feedback, but when you get 350 subs you just can’t critique them all. Authors can request feedback from us, but it takes about 2-3 weeks depending on our schedule.
On Current and Future Plans
What was 2016 like for you and Weasel Press? What were some of the highlights for you and your beat literature?
It was an interesting year. We just published two books: City, Psychonaut by Robin Wyatt Dunn, and I’ll Only Write Poems for You by Max Mundan (A Weasel Press chapbook finalist). We also have one last book for 2016, the first breath you take after you give up by michael prihoda (AMY PLS NOTE: all lowercase intended). We’ve had quite a few great releases this year and we’re pushing on with 12 more in 2017.
What are the plans for the immediate future? What books will be rolling off the presses shortly?
Well I pretty much summed up ’16 in the last question. For 2017 our schedule is as follows:
February: Civilized Beasts 2017 Edition, edited by Laura "Munchkin" Lewis
March: Rising from the Ashes by Mason O’Hern
April: Taking Back the Underground by Steven Storrie
May: In and Of Blood by Kat Lewis
June: Wine Country by Robin Wyatt Dunn and Everybody But You by Thia Sexton
July: Taxi Sam by Neil S. Reddy
August: Ghost Train by Matt Borczon
September: Satan’s Sweethearts by Marge Simon and Mary Turzillo
October: How Well You Walk Through Madness anthology, and I Am A Terrorist by Sarah Frances Moran
November: Night at the End of the Tunnel by Mark Greenside
December: Thirsty Earth by Chris Wise and beneath this planetarium by michael prihoda
Do you have any long range plans in the works?
I try to take things by the year. I want to get distribution to brick and mortar stores and have had slight traction. Maybe do an anthology that pays more than 1/2 cent per word to attract some larger named writers.
Bill Kieffer‘s website.