As you may know, on October 25th, I posted my farewells to the “original” site, which long functioned as the Silent Motorist Media blog. I’ll link the post here, since this is a follow up to what was written there. In short, in the wake of producing Hymns of Abomination, I had run up against a series of financial difficulties that rendered continued efforts on SMM unfeasible. I was certain that I was done.
A few things transpired following that post that I didn’t foresee. First, I was stunned by the outpouring of support and encouragement I received on social media. I hadn’t truly recognized how much people enjoy SMM. Every kind word made it more difficult to think of my efforts in terms of “waste.” I realized that if readers believe in this small press, then I haven’t failed. SMM was doing what it was designed to do.
Second, I was generously given enough money to make rent for two months, which was just long enough to find an adequate day job following the rescinded job offer I was depending on previously (more on that in the original post). I now process Covid specimens for a start-up laboratory just a few minutes away from my house–an ideal position, in short, for someone with profound hearing loss.
I want to take a moment to reemphasize something: the kindness and generosity of SMM readers–your kindness–is what kept my family housed and fed long enough for me to find employment. Despite my repeated and extended appeals to vocational and disability services, it was you who saved the day. I never received help from the “official” channels ostensibly maintained for people in my situation. To me, while this reveals something warming about our little weird fiction/horror community, it also points to a serious flaw in the state programs that should’ve helped me through this. What if I didn’t have a media platform, even one as small as SMM? I can’t help but wonder about the people who continually face similar struggles without the benefit of an “audience.” Who’s out there for them? In a way, I hope this and the “closure” post I linked above (which will remain the first and foremost post on the old blog site) will serve as a reminder that something is wrong with the avenues of “help” in place for people, like myself, with disabilities.
That just about brings you up to date on what’s transpired behind the scenes. Now it’s time to discuss what SMM will look like for the foreseeable future. The day job hasn’t made me rich by any means, and there are obvious time constraints now that I’m not attempting to work on SMM full time. The following changes are necessary, and, I believe, for the better.
I won’t be attempting expensive and time-consuming anthologies for the present. The resources simply aren’t there. If SMM continues to grow, I’m more than open to revisiting the possibility of anthologies and trade length single author publications. For now, SMM will exclusively print chapbooks.
Yes, the chapbooks–2021’s three issues of Mysterium Tremendum, to be exact–were by far the most “profitable” publications I printed. For one, I have all the equipment to design, print, bind, and distribute them from home. There are no hidden fees from printers, no shenanigans from distributors, and no major shipping expenses. I can track every penny that goes into the process. After crunching the numbers again, this aspect of SMM remains the most sustainable by far.
What’s more, chapbooks encourage me to emphasize one dimension of small presses I appreciate more and more the longer I do this. Running a DIY press should prove an opportunity to venture from the worn path. SMM will never reach a “mainstream” audience, nor should it aspire to. With these limited single author chapbooks, there’s a greater opportunity than ever to encourage authors to get as “weird” as they’d like. Whether they’re a household name or a new voice in contemporary fiction, I want their work with SMM to be something readers can’t find just anywhere else. I truly believe that this more “intimate” DIY setting can engender a colorful and unique run of small publications, particularly since there’s no longer an intense pressure to make a “living” on them.
That’s the package I’ve pitched to authors, and some exciting names have responded. Yes, we’re already looking at a roster for 2022. When it comes time to announce the releases, I’m certain you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Above all, I’m happy to once again do the work I most enjoy doing. Thank you, as always, for your endless support. It’s great to be back.
Justin A. Burnett