PW: Prime has become a major player in fantastic fiction publishing in a very short time. How did it evolve into the publisher it is today?
Prime was actually the result of the slow and ugly implosion of another independent publishing company I had been consulting for, and when the dust cleared I had a number of unhappy authors with unpublished projects on my hands. This required the quick and necessary creation of Prime Books in late 2001, and we haven't looked back since. The only real changes in our business model have been the gradual shift from a genre-specific focus to a general publishing focus, increased output on novels and collections in contrast to anthologies, and the introduction of an offset program later this year.
How do you distinguish yourself from the abundance of fantasy specialty presses that have sprung up of late?
Prime is all about publishing the best in fiction (and art), whether it's science fiction, fantasy or horror, or perhaps even a mix of all three, or even perhaps something entirely different. In other words, it's about art and fiction working together to impress on the reader that this is damn good fiction and I think I've succeeded in this. You usually can't mistake a Prime title for anything but Prime. With the introduction of our new offset program, with titles like The Labyrinth by Catherynne M. Valente and Circus of the Grand Design by Robert Freeman Wexler, we hope to continue this strange and wonderful tradition.
Do you think of yourself as a genre publisher?
I publish what I like and what I think my readers would like to read. If that's science fiction, or fantasy or horror, or something entirely else, then I really have no issues or qualms about introducing it into my program.
Does publishing books across a wide variety of literary spectrums pose any special challenges to you as a small publishing house?
No, it actually provides me with plenty of leeway, in terms of freedom of choice and marketing, and it provides Prime with a distinctive identity. I imagine that readers, reviewers and authors look forward to each release, because they don't really know what to expect, except that it's something new and original and unusual.
How do you find the authors you publish, considering that many aren't established presences with name recognition?
The credit (and blame!) can be laid at the feet of my consulting editors, who include Jeff VanderMeer, Zoran Zivkovic, Nick Mamatas and many more. The truth is that Prime wouldn't be Prime without their help and assistance, for which I'm eternally grateful. I make it a habit to listen very carefully to my editors and I keep an ear to the ground for anything of strong interest to Prime.
Wildside Press bought Prime recently. What's your relationship with Wildside?
I've worked with John Gregory Betancourt [of Wildside Press] for a number of years now as senior editor for Cosmos Books, an imprint of his publishing company. Earlier this year he offered me an opportunity to take Prime to another level, in terms of distribution, marketing and growth, and I grabbed with both hands. Prime isn't just another imprint. It's all about being strange. Or edgy. Or new. Or... well, you get the point. And that requires a strong editorial presence, with the freedom and ability to make Prime bigger and better in this market.