Thursday, February 19, 2009

On Cemetery Dance

Richard Chizmar, the founder/owner/publisher of Cemetery Dance has posted a very important message concerning the future of the imprint here. You should read it in its entirety, but to summarize part of it, it is a pledge to improve the schedule of publication, and that is a very important thing for the genre.

I have been accused of being critical of Cemetery Dance, and that isn’t completely unfair. I have griped a few times about delays in publishing titles and magazines, and being a wise-ass by nature, I’ve made several cracks relating to those problems. I’ll own up to that, but I also want it known that I love Cemetery Dance. Turning my head to my office bookcase, I count over 40 books on the shelf bearing the CD imprint, and I would imagine I own at least half again as many that are out of my sight. I’m a lifetime subscriber to Cemetery Dance magazine, I bought into the 2008 CD book club, and I would have done so again in 2009 if it had been offered, despite only about half the titles from 2008 being shipped to date. I have no personal relationship to the company, but I have had occasion to correspond with Mindy Jarusek, who has been a pleasure to deal with, and Norman Prentiss, who was very pleasant after I reviewed Invisible Fences.

Mr. Chizmar has undeniable reasons for the spotty publishing schedule, having to deal with family tragedy, and I certainly don’t want to downplay that. The importance of Cemetery Dance, though, extends beyond just the health of their company. It is important to the health of the entire field of horror publishing.

Horror fiction is largely the province of the small press right now, and Cemetery Dance is clearly the pre-eminent small press in the game.

If any of the small presses has the potential to break out of the small press label, it is Cemetery Dance.

There is currently no magazine regularly presenting short horror fiction to newsstand browsers. Cemetery Dance magazine is of high enough quality to change that.

Due in large part to the hard work of Mr. Chizmar, Cemetery Dance has developed working relationships with the important authors of the day. Stephen King. F. Paul Wilson. Brian Keene. Peter Straub. Ray Bradbury. Joe Hill.

Cemetery Dance’s problems have had repercussions. Possibly the most anticipated anthology in the history of horror is In Laymon’s Terms, the appreciation of the late Richard Laymon. It seems to be on track to be published this year, but the original estimated date of publication was 2002. The most recent issue of Cemetery Dance magazine contained articles and interviews written in 2006. This has caused potential buyers to become very wary, and I know of a number who no longer place pre-orders because they don’t know how long they will have to wait. If CD had offered the book club for 2009, the problems of 2008 might very well have caused it to fail. It is just difficult to take a company seriously (from a business standpoint) with these problems.

So, Mr. Chizmar’s post is wonderful news for all those who lament the economic problems facing the field we love. CD getting back on a regular production schedule will be great for Cemetery Dance, but it will have a positive ripple effect throughout horror. There is nothing that gets a reader/buyer excited about the genre as much as holding a good book in their hands.

In case anyone misses part of what I’ve said: I love Cemetery Dance, and I support them. I’m extremely grateful for what Richard Chizmar and his staff has brought to horror fiction. And I believe a new emphasis on publishing efficiency by CD is a fantastic event for the field. If you are unfamiliar with what they offer, I invite you to follow the link to their website in the sidebar, and browse their catalog.

1 comment:

Craig Clarke said...

#1 -- The boss is back. And it's about time.

Damn right! I was just thinking the other day that maybe CD would be doing better if Chizmar wasn't off making movies all the time. I understand ambition, but you can spread yourself thin.