I’m a big fan of Peter David’s work. I’m certainly not the only one.
My first real introduction to Peter David’s writing was his amazing run on The Incredible Hulk for Marvel Comics. To this day I rate his run as up there with the original Hulk stories as my favorite take on the Hulk and still find depictions of the dumber “Hulk Smash” Hulk to be less enjoyable as a result.
That introduction led me to his other comic work, his opinion column in Comic Buyer’s Guide, and his novel work. The vast majority of his novel writing at that time was licensed work. He was a well known for his Star Trek novels, somewhat well known for having written books in the Photon series, and he wrote a series called Psi-Man under the pen name of David Peters. In and around that he also put out original works like Howling Mad and Knight Life, movie adaptations and doing the co-writing on James Doohan’s autobiography. He also wrote the odd TV script and screenplay as well as co-creating Space Cases with Lost in Space and Babylon 5 star Bill Mumy.
One of the hallmarks of his work was the humor in them. However, sometimes the reputation of “humor” in his works overshadowed what else was there. Some of his Trek novels were serious and dark as hell, but a few lighter scenes written here and there and fans talked about them as another Peter David knee slapper.
But slowly, as time wore on, the reputation for the other aspects of his writing grew. He could do dark and serious very well. He was extremely good with characterization and he had an amazing ability for great dialogue. He also had a great gift for being able to plant seeds for long term storytelling and unfolding those stories in an absolutely beautiful manner.
Of course, he also started to hit frustrating roadblocks. At appearance after appearance at stores and conventions he would be met with fans asking him when they would see some original creation novels from him. The problem he faced was that his publishers would constantly tell him that there was simply no demand whatsoever for original works from Peter David. All fans wanted to see, he was told, was more things like his licensed Trek work.
That changed a bit over time, but not all that much. Slowly he was able to get more original properties written as both comic book works and novels, but the various problems with publisher remained. He had stories to tell, but publishers would explain that there was no demand for “X” for whatever, occasionally insane, reasons.
Readers started to resign themselves to the fact that Peter and many other writers who didn’t have the same string pulling power of a Stephen King or J. K. Rowling level player would be at the mercy of the dictates of the machine. If the machine said that no one had any interest in vampire stories unless they were romance based stories written by female authors then that’s what the publishing reality was even if the real reality said differently. And readers resigned themselves to the fact that good writers had great stories to tell that they might never see.
And then a few years ago things started to change on the publishing landscape. New technologies started introducing new formats such as the e-book. Through devices like the Kindle, books could now be treated like music or movies on an iPod or like-device. You could store an entire library of 1,000 or more books on a device not much larger than a billfold wallet.
Major publishers started making electronic versions of their print product. Along the way, things like Amazon opened the ability to create e-books to everyone. You could be a high school kid working on a story and get it published electronically via Amazon or other platforms. The upside was that anyone now had the ability to write whatever stories their muses told them to write. The two downsides were that this meant an electronic glut of new fiction coming out from unknown and untested authors and that in turn meant that e-books were seen by many as the new vanity presses. But slowly a few authors started to look at e-publishing themselves to sidestep the issues of dealing with publishing houses that insisted on restricting an author’s output based on the publisher’s occasionally twisted view of what readers wanted.
Enter 2011 and enter Crazy 8 Press. Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, Bob Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Aaron Rosenberg, and Howard Weinstein, having found selling their original works to mainstream publishers increasingly difficult, launched their own imprint to distribute works on the electronic platform with print on demand options for some works. Peter’s own original work, The Camelot Papers, was used as the initial launch’s centerpiece in much of the promotion for Crazy 8 Press.
The initial buzz from fans in the know was rejoicing. Now we would get to see the stories that the authors we most enjoyed most wanted to tell unfiltered and without roadblocks keeping them tied up in publishing hell for months or even years. Now we would get stories as soon as these authors could put them out.
Since their launch a number of titles have been released. You can find them all here.
Crazy 8 is up and running and putting out some great stuff. I personally love several of their stories, especially Pulling Up Stakes, Peter David’s take on the vampire and the vampire hunter, and have either recommended the extremely affordable e-pub versions to many I know or actually bought the print on demand version of Stakes as gifts. But the problem now is that their works aren’t being seen by many readers at large. As a matter of fact, Peter, one of the founders, is having his next original novel released through Amazon Books.
I don’t believe that the issue is pricing as mentioned by one poster in that piece. The average Crazy 8 Press book is priced way more than affordably; especially when compared to the average major publisher’s e-pubs. I think the issue is promotion.
Despite the fact that all of these guys are established, name authors, they’re pretty much depending on word of mouth here. They’re not multi-millionaires. They’re working for a living with their writings and paying bills and supporting family with those earnings. They’re not exactly in a position to drop the kind of advertising budget on each book that a major publisher can. And, being e-pubs, there are no paperbacks to land on the shelves and be found while browsing or to be placed in the window or on the center isle display as the local bookstore’s new releases. You have to know about the books and you can only know about them by looking for them.
The result is that their works are not being seen by the eyeballs that should be seeing them. The result is that what so many fans of so many authors, not just these guys, have declared that they want for so long now, new stories of the type they want to read and the type the authors want to write, are going by unseen and unknown to the very fans who would love them.
Michael Jan Friedman
Ever read anything by any of them that you really loved? Then support this venture. Subscribe to their sites. Buy some of their e-books. Buy some of the print on demand books if you don’t have an e-reader device. You can find out how to get them all here.
Share the news about Crazy 8 Press. Spread the word. Put word of mouth to good use. It’s not just to help them either. If they succeed the way is paved for others to do the same. There are so many authors out there who don’t have the stroke that a King or Rowling has that want to tell the stories that their fans would love yet cannot do it. By helping them, you help anyone else who goes this route. By helping anyone who goes this route, the fans ultimately help themselves by getting the stories that they want and will enjoy.
It’s really that simple. Share this post. Hell, just take the links I provided and share them with your own spin. I don’t care how you do it, but please go out and share it.
And don’t do it just the one time. When you read a Crazy 8 book that you like, go ahead and mention it on social media the same way so many of us mention that episode of of the TV show of the moment, the hot new movie, that great restaurant, or anything else. You don’t have to write a review, just tell people about it if you liked it.
And if you haven’t read any of the books from Crazy 8, buy one. Start out small. I’d suggest Pulling Up Stakes. $0.99 gets you the first part of the story, 105 pages, on your Kindle, Nook, e-reader device or PC and if you liked it as much as I did you only have to invest another $2.99 in getting the second part of the story. But if vampires and vampire hunters, even a different take on them, isn’t your thing? Look around the site. They have other stories for under $4.00 that you can test the waters with. Give them a try and if you like what you see just let other people know. The “work” of doing so is barely any effort and the rewards are that creators continue to get to create in a way that allows them the unrestricted freedom to create the stories that you love.