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A New Era in Publishing

The publishing industry is bloated. You know it. I know it. And the industry itself knows it. In a day and age where there are such diverse opinions and such creative talent, why do the large publishers insist on flooding the market with derivative self-help and vampire novels? Wait a minute. A vampire self-help book might not be such a bad idea!

No offense to the vampire reading audience; I've read many and written a few myself. My point is, that there is so much pent up talent out there. What are these publishers thinking? If you ask me... well, and you are reading this, large-scale publishers are as bad as politicians when it comes to polls. Everything is based on the previous year's sales and the latest blockbuster movie. They seem to have a deaf ear when it comes to new storylines, especially those conceived by undiscovered authors. A primary contributor to this is that they have gone out of their way to isolate themselves from the actual talent.

When was the last time an unknown author could directly contact a publisher with a new, innovative idea? Publishers don't want new ideas. They want what they already know sells. And so, they put up a wall and proclaim that to speak to a publisher, you must be represented by a literary agent.

Now, I've never been one for middle men, and I particularly don't like middle men whose only function is to weed you out. If they had such an eye for talent, they would be you, or they would be a publisher, or wealthy and retired. Often, agents are overwhelmed by hundreds or thousands of submissions by authors who are only calling them because they can't contact the publisher directly. Ever received a denial letter from one of these agencies? They should spend as much money on proof-reading their form letters as they do smoozing it up with the big publishing muckity-mucks.

So, what is an author to do? There are always vanity presses. I've never been a fan myself, mostly because I believe that my money is my money, and I don't subscribe to a model where I provide the great idea, I provide weeks, months, or years of my own labor, and then some doofus with a high tech printer and some hot glue decides that he is going to charge me a premium to generate some short run. To add insult to injury, vanity presses are also notorious for negotiating contracts that give them rights and revenue to the author's work, characters, and derivative works in perperuity.

I've also submitted, though sparingly so, works in contests. Few were free, but with hundreds entering and only one winner getting published... Well, I guess the problem as I see it is this: if your work is good enough, then you should be published. There is an age old adage that "Everyone has a book in them." They might, but who is going to publish them?

As an author and fervent advocate of both writing as an expressive art form and reading as a stimulus for creative thought, I grew incensed by what I saw. Too many people are writing books that only they will see, and then only on their computer or on 8.5x11 printouts. Call me old fashioned, but I'm not satisfied until there is an actual book in my hands.

I began writing short stories at the age of eight. For the first decade, everything I wrote was on loose leaf. My first novel started in a notebook, and then was migrated to a laptop. It took me almost a decade, on again / off again, to complete the 542 page book. To date, I have written five novels with three more on the way. I have not published a single one. That is why I founded Last Quarter of the Moon publishing. Early next year, LQM will be publishing that first novel that I wrote, "Moths to a Flame", as part of our innaugural printing. We are also in talks with other authors to round out our initial offering.

In honor of this brave new endeavor, we will be publishing as a serial, my second novel, "Have You Seen Her?", a chapter a week on this website starting in January. Tune in each week to learn what harrowing lengths Jack will go to to find his daughter. Watch for clues and tell us "Have You Seen Her?"

Several years ago, I took up studying bookbinding. I was working on my second novel, and I just wanted to hold one of my books in my hand and know that 'I had made this.' So I did it. I edited, typefaced, laid out, and printed the manuscript. I made my own binding press based on instructions from the Internet and materials from the hardware store. I formed the signatures, laced and stitched to bind them, pressed them, built up the spine, and attached the boards. I did it all myself, and was very satisfied with the quality of my first attempt.

Last year, my son, picked up that copy and read my first book. It had spent several years on the shelf collecting dust. He not only enjoyed reading it, he offered to help me publish it. And in November last year, he wrote his own novel. I am pleased to announce that it will be included in our innaugural collection.

Michael Courter
Founder and Publisher

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