Both of you who have been following my saga of writing and publishing in this strange new world will know that I didn’t want to say who the publisher was who offered me the ten-book contract until their and my Cock Hanjohns had been placed officially upon the scroll of wonders. (Or PDF that I needed to print out and send them, if you’re not feeling poetic.) That has now been done and my soul officially belongs to Permuted Press. (For-real motto: “Enjoy the Apocalypse.”) Go into any bookstore and seek out the coolest and most unsettling fiction, then look on the back of the volume: It will most likely say “Permuted Press.”
Perhaps applicable only to certain values of “enjoy.”
Permuted started out publishing only zombie books, which ten years ago didn’t even exist as its own subgenre, most zombie tales being told in the medium of film. But after my dear friend Max Brooks (disclaimer: we’ve never met) came out first with his insanely great The Zombie Survival Guide in 2003 and then followed it up with (IMHO) the best zombie novel ever written, World War Z, in 2006, it took off. Now, I know a movie called World War Z exists and is, you know, okay, I suppose, but it has exactly Jack Squat to do with the masterpiece that is the book. If you haven’t read it, do so now. I’ll wait.
Okay, all done? Excellent, moving on: Permuted started publishing zombie books just as the genre exploded. And when I say exploded, I mean literally blew up (disclaimer: not literally). You can go into any Barnes and Noble now and really literally see a hundred different titles stocked in the store about undead monsters, undead lovers, undead cheerleaders and football stars, undead detectives, and the list literally goes on until it stops. Undead movie stars. Undead strippers. Undead robots, fer Pete’s sake. And when I say “undead,” of course there are pantloads of vampires and werewolves—although the less bigoted term seems now to be “shifters”—and maybe even mummy-type formerly living folks. But mostly, “undead” now means “zombie.”
There might be some overlap.
Brooks got the ball rolling, but Permuted picked up that ball and ran for a goal at home plate. (I’m not good at sports metaphors, being a lifelong “indoor kid.”) Permuted Press first published the book John Dies At The End by David Wong. You know, the bestseller about the fecking CHAOS that ensues after you drink soy sauce. (It makes sense in the book.) They made a very entertaining and faithful movie adaptation of it, starring Paul Giamatti, who could recite the Russian alphabet a hundred times in a row and make it a must-see event. They also published the phenomenon known as Day by Day Armageddon by J.L Bourne. Great stuff. This is my publisher now, and for my next nine books.
“Wait,” an observant and completely nonexistent reader of this blog might say, “the novels you mentioned in the earlier blog post are, at best, tangentially related to zombies. What gives?” Well, first, let me say that I admire your use of 1940s hipster lingo. Second, I am at the vanguard of Permuted’s expanded mission, which is to publish books that are about the end times, the Apocalypse, any eschatological scenario set either right before it happens, while it happens, or after it happens. Zombies are everyone’s go-to Armageddon, it’s true, but Permuted is growing and wants to publish all kinds of novels dealing with the end of humanity, whether actual, potential, or already achieved. My Lovecraftian novels are perfect for this wider scope. (I am also doing zombies, natch, because ZOMBIES.)
See, Permuted Press started out as a labor of love that—because of the emergence of Zombiestan as the premiere scary destination over the past ten years—turned into a successful publishing imprint. The founder recently sold to a veteran of New York publishing circles, and this new owner is bringing Permuted into the big leagues.
Remember, kids: Don’t do chew.
That’s where I come in. Apparently my on-a-whim submission of Deadtown Abbey to Permuted sparked something in the new owner and he called me personally, his own self, from New York a month ago or so and essentially told me that he wanted me to be part of their Great Leap Forward. Then I got involved in some contract negotiations which essentially went like this:
Permuted Press: We want Deadtown Abbey.
Permuted Press: We also want more books from you.
Me: Okay! Here’s nine more novels I have rolling around in my brain that fit the Permuted Press vision.
Permuted Press: We’ll take them.
Me: Okay! Which ones?
Permuted: All of them. We will give you an advance every time you get one to us.
Me: Okay! How much money?
Permuted: X dollars.
Me: Okay! <thinks for a moment> But how about X + (very small Y) dollars per book?
Permuted: Done. Now go write.
As you can see from this historical re-enactment, I am a complete shark in the waters of contract negotiation. All right, actually more of a flounder. Okay, okay, actually more of an old sneaker that someone dropped off the side of a boat. But still, this is the greatest thing publishing-wise that has happened to me since … well, ever. Self-publishing is noble and wonderful, but as I said in an earlier blog post, this kind of support is an entirely new level of endorsement for my work. The next nine books I write are already accepted. Meaning I’d better get off here and get my bad self to work.
Help! Tell the world my story about me telling the world my stories!
Next: Finally, the discussion of the economics of a ten-book contract. I promise.