The 2017 Specialty Press Award Winners
Specialty Press Award (tie) – ERASERHEAD PRESS and INDEPENDENT LEGIONS PUBLISHING
The annual Specialty Press Award recognizes a publisher outside the mainstream New York City publishing community that specializes in dark-themed fiction. Winners are typically “small presses” specializing in limited editions, small print runs, or the work of new and relatively unknown authors. The winner of the award is determined by a majority vote of the HWA Board.
The Board of Trustees has chosen two winners for the 2017 Specialty Press Award: Eraserhead Press and Independent Legions Publishing.
Founded in 1999, Eraserhead Press is an independent publisher of bizarro fiction and cutting-edge horror. Under the leadership of Rose O’Keefe, the press has developed an international cult following for its main line of trade paperbacks and e-books. The press releases new books every month and has published over four hundred titles by 150 different authors including Piers Anthony, Brian Keene, Michael Cisco, Molly Tanzer, Carlton Mellick III, Jeremy Robert Johnson, John Skipp, Edward Lee, J.F. Gonzalez, Laura Lee Bahr, and Wrath James White. The company also publishes under four imprints: Deadite Press, Fungasm Press, Lazy Fascist Press, and The New Bizarro Author Series
Located in Portland, Oregon, Eraserhead Press is the oldest and largest publisher of bizarro fiction having helped introduce readers to the genre with The Bizarro Starter Kit and The Best Bizarro Fiction of the Decade anthologies. In addition to publishing unique well-crafted books, they have experimented with different business models, from their humble beginning as a DIY zine publisher, to an author collective, a volunteer staff of for-the-love writer/editors, to a full-time publishing house with multiple imprints and international distribution. Eraserhead Press has gained a reputation for their eye-catching covers and compelling titles such as The Haunted Vagina, Help! A Bear Is Eating Me!, Baby’s First Book of Seriously Fucked Up Shit, and Shatnerquake. They are also known for their unique marketing strategies like homebrewing beer in honor of their books to be served at parties, busking on street corners, selling books at film festivals and rock concerts, throwing performance art events and advertising books inside the boxes of local pizzerias. With an eye for keeping things fun, Eraserhead Press values open-mindedness, curiosity, and artistic expression. The company motto is: Take what you do seriously, but never take yourself too seriously.
Over nearly two decades, the press has been successful at attracting readers and writers, outside the mainstream, who get invested not only in the work but in the community associated with it. Readers call the books “addictive” and often comment that they’d given up on reading until encountering these books. Writers have moved to Portland to get more closely involved with the press, fans have tattooed images of the company logo and characters from the books, and half a dozen other small presses internationally have cited Eraserhead Press as an inspiration for their formation. The press also frequently collaborates with international publishers, filmmakers, musicians, and visual artists on adaptations and translations of the works.
Independent Legions is a publishing company specializing in horror fiction, located in Italy, founded in 2015 by Bram Stoker Award-winning author Alessandro Manzetti. Since that time, the company has published, in English and Italian, more than 50 titles by the most revered and successful writers in the horror genre: Clive Barker, Richard Laymon, Ramsey Campbell, Poppy Z. Brite, David J. Schow, Robert McCammon, Jack Ketchum, Edward Lee, Peter Straub, Charlee Jacob, Dennis Etchison, Carlton Mellick, Greg F. Gifune, Gene O’Neill, Nicole Cushing, Lucy Taylor, Shane McKenzie, Alyssa Wong, Usman Malik, and many others. Independent Legions has already bought the rights to about 25 books that will be released in 2018 and 2019, including works by Stephen King, Joe R. Lansdale, Neil Gaiman, Harlan Ellison, Tanith Lee, John Skipp, Craig Spector, Caitlín R. Kiernan, John A. Lindqvist, Brian Lumley, Mark Alan Miller, anthologies edited by Stephen Jones and Mort Castle, and other works by Clive Barker, Richard Laymon, Edward Lee, Charlee Jacob, Poppy Z. Brite, and many more. So far, they have published and are about to publish a total of 137 authors, among them more than 45 Bram Stoker Award-winning authors and 2 volumes of the anthology series The Beauty of Death – The Gargantuan Book of Horror Tales. Each volume has contained about 40 stories by both contemporary masters of horror and newcomers. Both volumes were nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in an Anthology. In 2017, they started publishing, in Italian, a deluxe limited edition series of works by Clive Barker.
Independent Legions’ publishing team is comprised of several people (divided into English and Italian departments): editors, copywriters, translators, proofreaders, consultants, illustrators, and marketing specialists. All publications, both digital and printed, are available on Amazon and major online booksellers. Paperback editions (and limited & special editions) are also available at their online store and at some specialized libraries in Italy.