To the Reader:
We are publishers. But we are publishers in the new tradition of publishing…a tradition in which message and meaning, form and function, are mutable and multiple. We offer ebooks, but with forays into the realm of hardcopy. We publish texts, but we also have a special fondness for the visual arts. We love the written word, but also graphics, video, and whatever other forms of media shall shape culture high and low in our complicated future.
So, join us. We invite you. Explore our offerings on the next few pages. We submit for your approval novels and creative non-fiction, tales of travel and of home, works of scholarship and purest entertainment…
Come back often. New titles, new thoughts, new directions shall appear here on a regular basis. And, given the rapidity of change in this post-modern, postindustrial, post-comprehendible world…
We will often be as surprised as you.
To the Contributor:
Hello. If you are reading this, then it is probably because you are interested in contributing something to Belfort and Bastion. That being the case, this document will give you some idea of what we're looking for and why.
Oh, and a quick aside. Yes, we are really looking for manuscripts, photos, etc. No, we are not a vanity or subsidiary operation. We do not charge you for publishing with us. We are a genuine publisher, genuinely publishing writers and artists who we think deserve to be seen by the public.
In other words, you may not get rich from Belfort and Bastion, but you will not have to pay us for the privilege of being in our catalog.
That said, let's get started.
1. What are we looking for?
On one level, we are looking for anything that seems to have genuine merit. Novels, short story collections, poetry, creative non-fiction, fun guides to unusual hobbies or professions, photography…all these things and more are welcome.
That said, most of the material we publish falls into three basic categories: a) the texts of new and newer authors, b) what we're calling Micro-Niche Books, and, finally, c) Lost Classics and Intellectual Adventures.
Let's take each of these in turn.
2. New Artists
The grim reality is that major companies rarely if ever publish new writers. Unless you are already famous or have extensive connections within the publishing industry, they just aren't going to look at you. They can't afford to. They don't have the time or energy to review the thousands of manuscripts that come into their offices every day. Thus, unknown writers, no matter how talented, are simply out of luck.
So, one of the main purposes of our company is to find writers, artists, poets, etc. who have not yet published extensively but who do have talent. We, then, provide the place where such people can cut their publishing teeth. We are where first novels, new collections of poetry, and much else goes to first see the light of day.
Think of B&B as the launching pad for your career. It is the place where you get your material into (virtual) print for the very first time.
And then, if anyone asks, "but have you been published?" you can say, quite truthfully, that you have been. Moreover, you are not self-published, nor have you paid a subsidiary or vanity publisher to put out your work.
Rather, you are a legitimate writer, artist, photographer or whatever…and Belfort and Bastion is there to prove it.
What's a Micro-Niche? Well, first you have to understand that most big publishing companies cannot afford to publish books that don't have really, really, big audiences. Their costs of production, marketing, and distribution are just too high. So everything they put into print or on the web has to pay for itself pretty quickly. It has to sell in the millions of copies before it gets into the black.
What this means is that a good many books and other works that should be published aren't, simply because of sheer economics. Books that don’t have mass audiences simply don't get onto the shelves or onto the websites of online retailers.
B&B, however, doesn't have problem. We are small, and so we can some address small markets—what are known as "niche markets" or even micro-niches. We can easily publish books that may have only a few hundred buyers and still be happy.
What sort of books are these? There are lots of options. Have you written a biography of someone who should be known to the world but isn't? And no major publisher will touch your work because your subject isn't some reality TV star already famous for their on-the-air temper tantrums and online sex-tapes? Well, we might well be interested.
Have you an interest in some topic that you feel passionately about? Maybe you love an unusual sport or hobby, and you have written a guide to it. A big publisher might feel that there simply wasn't the readership available to justify such a guide. We, however, could have a very different opinion.
Then, too, maybe you are a historian (amateur or professional) and some aspect of the past needs your help to get the attention it ought to have. Or, maybe you are a scientist or engineer and some part of your profession calls out for new text. But, when you take your proposal to the major houses, they will not even see you. You are too small for them. We, however, might have a different opinion. We might perceive you as a giant.
Or, perhaps, you have done something more informal. Maybe you have a large family and you've written a history of that family. A regular publisher would not touch you. But, there is a good chance that we'd be interested. Sometimes it is exactly these sorts of histories—very personal, somewhat informal—which have the greatest historical and social value.
Or, perhaps you are coming to the end of a long and interesting life. Maybe you have a memoir. Again, unless you are already famous, a big company might not read your work. We, however, could well be different.
3. Lost Classics and Intellectual Adventures
Big publishers often cannot publish big ideas.
It seems odd, but it is true. Ideas which are very controversial, or which aren't already accepted by large numbers of people tend not to sell books. Indeed, such ideas may alienate readers, and if your company depends on mass sales, that's a serious problem.
In fact, an idea doesn't even have to be particularly controversial to be distasteful to a Big Publisher. It just has to be unconventional. You can call for gun control, or slander liberals, or warn of the consequences of global warming… because lots and lots of people are interested in those things. Shock-jock radio personalities, newspaper columnists, and radical bloggers will plug or attack your book for free (either way you get lots of publicity).
But write a book about post-Post-Modernism, or the effects of artificial intelligence on human society, or on the rediscovery of the aesthetic in modern art… and, bluntly, you'll probably reach a few hundred readers and then only over the course of several years.
But B&B can live with that kind of limited market and long-term effort. We're happy to publish those kinds of books, if we think they have genuine intellectual vitality.
By like token, B&B can publish what we're calling "Lost Classics," older books that have been for some unaccountable reason allowed to drop out of the public's awareness. We hope to bring many of these back from the dead by presenting them as e-books, sometimes in annotated editions for a new generation of readers. At other times, we'll present them exactly as they are, standing quite happily by themselves.
4. And furthermore...
So, that's who we are and how we operate.
Now, let's move forward. If you have a manuscript, a collection of essays, a photo spread, or some other material that needs a home, let us know.
The least we can do is chat.