Launching in a Pandemic, Part Two

by Gideon Marcus

State of the Union

Nearly a year ago, I wrote about what is was like to run a small press at the beginning of a global pandemic. And here we are still in the middle of a global pandemic, albeit closer to the end of than the beginning (hopefully).

They’ve been tough times for everyone. People have lost loved ones. Businesses have suffered. Not to mention the mental health problems stemming from having to stay home most of the time and having one’s favorite out-of-home destinations being closed or curtailed.

Despite all this, not only has Journey Press been chugging along, but the bookselling business in general is hanging in there and, in some cases, flourishing. So here’s an update on how things are going out there and in here.

Bookstores Are Busy

Now that Journey Press titles are in more than 500 stores across the country, I’m on a first-name basis with a lot of booksellers. As a result, I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on how they’re doing. I’m happy to report that at least 95% of the stores we’ve worked with are still in business. While some are struggling and many are operating at reduced income, a surprising number are doing better than ever.

Main Street Books in Frostburg, MD — one of the bookstores at which you can get Journey Press titles

There are a few reasons for this. For one, local bookstores are community fixtures. People love them and don’t want them to go under. As a result, they’ve done their best to support them.

Bookstores have also become creative, expanding their online presence, offering curbside pickup, even moving some of their operations outdoors.

Also, since people aren’t going out much, they’re reading more. And while one might think this would spike e-book sales as opposed to physical sales, this hasn’t turned out to be the case. Probably because e-books are something folks use when they’re on the go. On the whole, I think people still prefer physical books.

Now, I can only speak for the stores that carry our books. They may be doing better than the ones that don’t. I’m not saying Journey Press is the reason these stores are doing so well, but it can’t hurt… 🙂

Rediscovery Resurgence

Our flagship title, Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women (1958-1963), has been and continues to be quite a success. In fact, last month, for the first time since March 2020, it was our best seller, perhaps because Women’s History Month is coming up.

A rising tide floats all boats, and not only are we planning on releasing Rediscovery 2: Science Fiction by Women (1953-1957) in March 2022, but according to the wonderful Dr. Lisa Yaszek, editor of Library of America’s The Future is Female anthology, sales of her book are up, too, in part due to the fact that we have been promoting our book and hers as a good match for bookstores. She’s been greenlit for a sequel anthology in that series, covering the 1970s. Congratulations, Lisa!

We are delighted that the (mostly) forgotten women writers of classic science fiction are coming back into the ken of the modern audience. Indeed, Wes over at Literatus and Co. in Watertown, Wisconsin, reported the other day that he can’t keep Rediscovery on his shelves, and that it has made a number of young women fans of these great writers.

I Want the Book

It’s been terrific getting the chance to work with the legendary Tom Purdom. His first novel, the 1964 classic I Want the Stars, has been a big hit. Just one example of the feedback we’ve gotten:

“This is a fascinating book, not just because Purdom knows how to put together a well-paced, character-driven story but because of how modern it feels.”

Hugo Finalist Alasdair Stuart

Tom and I will be appearing virtually at the amazing bookstore, Tubby and Coo’s, on Thursday, March 11 at 6PM Central time/7PM Eastern time. We’ll have a link for you in the near future!

Kitra continues

All I have to say is “Wow!” The reception of my first book has been overwhelmingly positive. While all of the books in the Kitra Saga are stand-alone stories, I’d always planned on it being a 9-10 book series. Nothing motivates one to write like having fans asking for more, so I’ve been hard at work on the sequel to Kitra, called Sirena. It’s about 60% done as we speak, and the release date will be September 2021.

Sirena will feature all of the characters from Kitra as well as introducing a new one I’m particularly proud of. There will be adventure, crisis, a little romance, plus some of that backstory folks have been clamoring for. And, of course, that scientific grounding that makes the Kitra-verse feel like it takes place in the real world of the future.

I know you’ll love it as much as I’m enjoying making it!

The Eighth Key is coming!

We are excited to introduce our newest author, Hugo Finalist Laura Weir, to the Journey Press line-up. Her first full-length novel, The Eighth Key, is one of the coolest (and hottest!) books I’ve read in a good long time. Not only does it take place in an unique fantasy setting with intricate world building, but the slow burn romance between the two male leads is…smoldering.

If you’re a fan of fantasy, an aficionado of gay romance, or any combination of the two, The Eight Key will be a must get.

Things to come

Journey Press’ publication schedule is now set through June 2022, but we are going to be actively looking for new writers for quarterly slots starting September 2022. That means we’ll be opening up Journey Press to submissions this summer. Stay tuned for submission calls when that happens. In the meantime, you can review our submission policy here.

We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: