1. As an editor and publisher, do you think the ever changing publishing industry has helped or hurt small press publishers?
Would it be too much of a cliche to fall back on Dickens’ famous line “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”? Right now technology has made it possible for anyone to be a publisher. The startup costs are pretty much as low as you could want them to be. I pay for small print runs on my comics at a reasonable price to sell them profitably, and the print-on-demand technology allows me to scale back print runs if I don’t have the money available to fund the business. And I could operate for even less if I went to a strictly e-publishing model. Prose publishers will incur even lower costs than comic publishers because they have less graphic design and artwork expenses.
That being said, the competition has never been tougher. When everyone can be a small press publisher, then everyone is a potential competitor. And all of those publishers are competing for their reader’s time with an array of literature, comics, and other entertainment available for free on the internet. Large publishers are cutting back and taking chances on fewer new authors, which means that there are fewer book contracts available that actually pay an advance. Bookstores are in trouble, threatening the distribution network that still drives a large percentage of sales.
All of this makes for an environment where it is easier to publish or get published, but considerably harder to make a living doing so. Although this can be discouraging, I do like the fact that degree success is much more in the hands of the individual creator. The opportunities to reach a large audience are still out there, and the individual can take actions that will directly affect his or her exposure to those audiences. Marketing is much more creator-driven, but that means that the creator has more control over their own message.
2. Tell us how you got started writing, who inspires you, and what to you plan to write in the future?
I’ve been writing since high school. I get my inspiration from all over the place: Fiction and nonfiction of many genres, classics, comics, old movies, nonfiction and history, and gaming. My future plans for comics are mostly focused on finishing the series that I have started. Perils of Picorna and Stone are both limited series with definite endings plotted out. Kaeli & Rebecca is more open-ended, although there is still a specific eventual plot direction. Zephyr & Reginald: Minions for Hire has one more issue scripted. I take a different approach to Minions because I consider comedy to be a very different kind of writing. I don’t want to continue the series if I don’t feel like I can continue to write enough jokes to make it work. So I’m leaving open the possibility of doing more Zephyr & Reginald: Minions for Hire if I feel inspired to write enough funny material.
As for prose, I have half of a novel written (a zombie western!) that I might go back to. I’ve also got some short story ideas. I just finished up my run at www.edgeofpropinquity.net, which frees up some writing time and creative energy now that I’m no longer responsible for a serial fiction installment every month. I’ve never really made a serious effort at getting my name out in the short fiction market. In fact, I have only picked up a couple of rejection letters. It might be time for me to start working on paying my dues submitting short stories.
3. Writing is considered a solitary art, several of your past projects had co-writers, how different was it writing with a partner, did you enjoy it and what did you learn from writing with others?
Collaboration is tricky, but very satisfying. I’ve enjoyed all of the collaborations that I’ve worked on, but I’ve learned that it’s necessary to take different approaches depending on the collaborative partner. When I collaborate with my wife, Gynn Stella, on Zephyr & Reginald: Minions for Hire, we tend to talk through plot and then I go off on my own and write a script, which she then looks over and suggests changes to. With Amy Kaczmarowski, my Perils of Picorna co-author, we’ve got a very good “vibe” for working together directly. We write our scripts on AIM, usually with a fair number of brainstorming sessions before we get to the actual scripting. We have very similar tastes in plot and characters, so we tend to work well together. Amy likes the world-building a bit more than I do, and I have a bit more affinity for fight and action scenes.
One of the biggest advantages I see to collaborative writing is that it’s a great way to fight through writers block. When one partner is stuck, the other partner almost always has an idea.
Rick Silva has been involved in small press publishing since his college days. He published and edited Kinships Magazine. Along with his wife Gynn, Rick is a partner in Dandelion Studios. He publishes his own print zine, Caravan, and he is one of the featured contributors for the fiction webzine The Edge of Propinquity. Rick Silva grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, attended Cornell University, and currently teaches chemistry at a high school on Cape Cod, where he resides with his wife, their son, and three cats. My comics are available at www.dandelionstudios.com My serial fiction can be found at www.edgeofpropinquity.net My short story “Roadkill” appears in the anthology Close Encounters of the Urban Kind published by Apex Books