What The Small Presses & Non Mainstream Authors Need (1 Viewer)

Brother Schenker

Founding member
It's vague at the moment but I need to start writing it anyhow in the hopes it will become clearer as I write this...

Advertising---Letting the public know your book exists---A TV show or Internet Show for the Counterculture---Interviews, Interviews, Interviews...Can you name such a channel or show? Where is it? Where is the go-to place to hear about new non mainstream (and thus counterculture) authors & books?

Where is the counterculture's alternative to Oprah's show & book club?

If they were alive today, what video show would a young-ish Buk, Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson, Alan Watts, or even Thaddeous Golas appear on to flog their latest books?

We need a CENTRALIZED location---a constant, consistent channel of weekly shows. We need a "place" to check in with and see/hear about the latest up & comers of the counterculture. It would feature interviews & author readings. No censorship! All filthy words ALLOWED and UN-BLEEPED. All authors allowed to appear drunk or stoned or otherwise disheveled.

Given that most of the authors won't be able to afford to travel to a studio, the show would need to be able to accommodate webcam and phone interviews.

There would need to be a website linked to the show for the purpose of proper advertising---a one-stop place for all known counterculture publishers & authors---a page of links and a page of paid-for ads.

Now, lest you be afraid of that word counterculture, it just means an alternative to the mainstream, an alternative to the mindset of "best sellers" and prize-winning "literature", an alternative to the status quo, an alternative to politically correct books sold at grocery stores---an alternative to shops like Wal-Mart who refuse to sell books like yours because you dared to use the word "cunt" or "nigger".

Right now all you little presses are just pinners amongst toothpicks---golden needles in the haystack. We've all done the lulu/POD thang and it's silly (and disheartening) without being able to attract or direct any traffic to our online store fronts.

If only there was a show on the web (or national telly) that ONLY catered to counterculture authors & publishers...

Otherwise, y'all, we'all, are forever masturbating alone in the middle of a cornfield...howling & screaming & gnashing our teeth amongst ears of corn and nothing else...We need a counterculture Charlie Rose kind of show...a place for freaks & geeks & potty-mouthed bastards...

The show would have to be given time to become popular...At first, maybe only 12 people will tune in...but if the show is decently filmed & edited and hosted by someone who doesn't make our stomachs turn, then the viewing numbers will increase as time goes by. It will have to start off as a labor of love and be maintained as such once it indeed becomes popular.

Please don't piss all over this idea and blab about how it has been tried before and failed...
It will definitely happen someday...it has to. There is no other option. Continuing obscurity is NOT an option. Someone's gonna do it...Someone's gonna get fed up with Oprah's domination...Someone's gonna see the sense in creating a bar that is an alternative to Cheers...

Me? I ain't got a fucken pot to piss in...plus I live in scurvy old England...in debt beyond my eyebrows...an economic prisoner of the UK eager to move back to the States...but it ain't gonna happen anytime soon...not soon enough...this place is cramped, jack...skinny roads with parking on both sides of the street...hardly any decent burger joints...no decent pastrami to speak of...8 years without a raise in pay because of the government's "austerity" program...


Maybe it's a stupid idea...I admit I offer it from a place of pure self-interest...I want such a channel or show to exist so I can appear on it and flog my books...Planting seeds...Planting seeds...

There used to be an alternative talkshow on PBS called Thinking Allowed hosted by Jeffrey Mischlove...It featured non mainstream authors ...but I wouldn't call the show or host counterculture...


Yep, me and my boy Benny. Dig that nostril shot! Clean as Skeeter's peter!
Well aren't we an insulting, insensitive turd, eh? Obvious reasons...yea, uh-huh....
Why offer any comment at all if you can't be bothered to read in its entirety what you are offering a useless comment about?
Here? Here at the bukowskiforum there is a link or tab to an interview channel featuring counterculture authors & publishers? I don't see it. If it indeed exists then why the cock couldn't you point it out or link to it?

You have been absolutely no help whatsoever. You have only demonstrated that you have a mind that is very, very tired and can't read more than a few words per day before you have to lay down and take a nap.

Happy napping---you stuck-up, pretentious jerk.
Brother Schenker,

Good to hear from you. I know that you don't post here often, but as one of the 1st nine, you got my respect.

This is the biggest problem with the small press. The only way to sell a lot of books is by getting a LOT of mainstream press and even then, it does not do much. The mindless drones buy any piece of garbage that Oprah tells them to. She probably only recommends books when the publisher pays her millions. It is a scam.

Non-mainstream literature is only read by a few people. You would think that someone who loves Kerouac, would love to read a new author that writes in a similar style, but they don't. They only buy Kerouac and his group. We tried GPP a few years ago and it did indeed do a lot, but not what I really wanted which was to get readers of beat, etc, to realize that there a lot of amazing writers TODAY that are starving for readers. Kerouac is dead and did not give a shit about people reading his stuff when he was alive. The GPP even got some mainstream press (a long write up in Poets & Writers) but although we were able to distribute over 50,000 poem cards in books all over the world, I'm not sure that it got a lot of small press readers and certainly did not make any of the poets household names.

As a publisher who is VERY aggressive with his offering, I can tell you that the demand for books has been dropping steadily for years. It is one of the reasons that Black Sparrow Press closed when it did. Martin saw the writing on the wall. Now, most readers are more than happy to read free stuff on the internet and do not buy books. Why buy when it is free. Pick any small press poet and google them. I bet that you will find that there are a LOT of their poems on websites that people can read for free. Why buy? I try to make it enticing by doing letterpress, fine bindings, but that is another issue. In a stagnant economy, people have a choice between food and books, they buy food.

I do not publish for the money. As this is now my only job (long story), I have to make enough to help a bit with the house bills, but without my wife's income, we would be in a homeless shelter. I wish that I was able to pay royalties (in MONEY, versus 10% of the run), but frankly, with the small runs, I'm not sure that most authors would even want that little bit of money.

More later, but if these posts get too long, they are tough to read and reply to.

I agree with gb. I've been turned on to many small press poets and writers here. My regular world is not remotely populated with people who give a shit about art or poetry, so this is my go-to place to find new writers/artists, etc. I did read that first post through, and it made me nostalgic for 1998, from when that screed seemed to emanate.
@Brother Schenker, take it easy. If @gbsupbowl can throw you off track with one comment, what are you going to do when you run in to real opposition?

For what it's worth, Oprah hasn't had a TV show or book club for almost five years, so you might want to take her out of your argument. There's still a "book club" on her website, but it has none of the clout her televised book club did. She is no longer a maker of bestsellers.

I know someone who is considering starting a small press podcast. There is already a kind of small press podcast, or at least an author podcast, but it's aging and stale and doesn't seem interested in the counterculture you speak of.

But that's where it's at, if you want to harness the power of these new mediums we're awash in. Podcasting. A website would be good too, and not terribly difficult do properly, but you have to have someone to do it. Someone has to devote themselves to it, and unless that's you, I'm afraid your speech is just a speech.

I'm sure there's someone out there who could do it. But if our experience with the Guerilla Poetics Project is any indication, writers are mainly concerned with promoting themselves, they aren't particularly enthusiastic about working toward a greater good with others. Or I should just say they aren't particularly enthusiastic about working, period, and what you're proposing would be a tremendous amount of work.
Sorry for flipping out on gpsupbowl...but honestly, writers who can't stand reading long posts? Why complain about the length? And why say something cunting like "for obvious reasons"? It's terribly impolite & insulting. You are insinuating that the writing was shite---too full of shite for you to finish reading. I don't think I write badly at all.

Thank you for your replies.

Gentlemen, if only you could step back outside of yourselves for one minute and look at your replies: Gauge the vibes of each one. You guys seems very defeated. I mean...it seems deeply embedded...Instead of all the reasons why the idea will fail, why not think of reasons of how it will succeed?

I am unable to buy the defeatism. I do not believe that fewer books are being sold. I know there are tons of books available for free online reading but I can't stand reading books online---I prefer paper. And I cannot believe that the counterculture is shrinking nor dead & buried. I believe in waves, ebbs & flows, comings & goings, rising & falling...popular things/trends become unpopular and then rise to the surface again & again...

A centralized location...that's the main goal.

Tremendous amount of work, says MJP.....Well, yea, if you attempt to put it all together in a week's time! But look at this website, bukowskiforum: It's fucking beautiful! Super clean & easy to navigate. NO CLUTTER! And Michael didn't achieve this in a week's time nor even a year's time. It is something that has evolved as a labor of love & pride and has increasingly become easier on the eyes. It certainly has to be the #1 Bukowski site on the WWW...and it grew organically.

I was only planting seeds...I didn't expect anyone to jump on the idea and "make it so" immediately...Perhaps it was just an exercise in pointing out the obvious...Without a centralized location like a national tv show or website exclusively for "dirty, filthy, anti-establishment" books, there can be no new wave of counterculture comix, books, films & music...

A website, a youtube channel, a national tv or radio show...

Yes, gentlemen, your arguments are valid...and so is your defeatism...but do not go so gently into the night...It's a helluva bronco to break down but when it throws you off you can either stay down (and out) or get the fuck back up on that bronco and have another go...

I refuse to get nasty here, but really, many small press books---whilst looking good & clean (like Wormwood Review), have contents that just do not do the job. Case in point: I was a subscriber to Wormwood---the only poems worth a damn were by Bukowski. Gerald Locklin? Are you kidding? Lyn Lifshkin, ditto? Steve Richmond? All of them were terribly uninteresting and reeked of being unauthentic. No, seriously. It's amazing how dull the poetry was in Wormwood...and in many poetry magazines & chapbooks.

Buk wrote like a man with nothing to lose---no face to save or protect. A total ego maniac. Totally self-absorbed. Most writers do not do this. They are afraid of looking creepy or ugly or foolish. They hold back. They don't let loose. In order to stand out you MUST be willing & happy to let it ALL out and look like a fool or clown or some sort of maudlin, overly-sentimental idiot. You have to exploit your rage and other feelings to the -nth degree and not give a damn if you look like you are suffering a breakdown or about to go postal. Most writers/poets do not do this---and the writing is therefore dull. Most poetry magazines and small presses print inferior contents (hell, I'd even go so far as to say the big presses do the same!). I guess they do so because of their relationships to the authors they publish...Whatever the reason, most stuff sucks because it is dull & unoriginal and that's because the authors are scared to really open up and "cry in front of the camera"---I mean REALLY cry---with snot running out of their noses, ya dig?

Most writers do not expose their inner-monster. Most writers do not exhibit any personality in their writing. Ergo, most writers suck and so do most books (and music, and tv shows, and movies, and graphic novels). We are awash in mediocrity!

Babies, I could keep on speeching here, but I'll shut up for now. I know I am a loud mouthed lout.

Perhaps the seeds I think I am planting are seeds that will take sprout in me...Perhaps I will start a youtube channel and conduct interviews by webcam...skype...Santa needs to bring me a new computer, a webcam thingy and a microphone...but I ain't holding my breath. But perhaps in a year's time I will acquire such things and then solicit candidates here at Buknet and start interviewing! Time will tell...
I agree, that's exactly what small presses need to garner enough attention to sell a few books. It's easier now than it's ever been to put something like that together...just as the Lulu/POD book publishing is easier now than it's ever been. A DSLR camera that takes high-quality HD can be had for a thousand bucks. A website can be built with templates that looks great. And there is no shortage of small press writers out there hoping to win over a few more readers.

But the real question is this: say you, or someone, does all of this stuff...slick as snot, lots of quality interviews, etc...how do we get people to WATCH/READ it?

Because in the ceaseless culture war (or counter-culture war) what we're competing for isn't sales, isn't winning with better content, won't ever be awards, or movie-deal tie-ins, or commercials durign the Super Bowl. The only thing we're competing for these days is the average person's attention...their constant, unwavering attention...for long enough to feel what the artists and creators are after, so that they connect in a deeper way to the material. We're not up against brick-and-mortar bookstores, we're not battling Amazon...there will never be (on average) enough small press sales for that to even be real.

The sad truth is, what we're up against is videos of cats being frightened by cucumbers...or riding on Roombas in a shark outfit. Without people's attention, everything remains ignored just as much as Lulu/POD/smashwords books.

I'm not saying it can't be done. But it certainly takes more than just an iron-clad blueprint, and a never-say die attitude.
I don't know if a real unified "counter-culture" even exists anymore. The internet has opened everything up, and now we've got a dizzying amount of content (more and more every day) and very little curating. An organized, clean, updated, focused site like this is a rarity (and is much appreciated, for what that's worth). I think a podcast focused on small presses might be the way to go, but it would require a real personality to drive it, bring in the audience on his/her own merit, rather than relying on listeners with a general interest in small press/counter-culture-type stuff to show up every week. Counting on niche audiences interested in one author or another to cross over with each other just doesn't seem like a great strategy. Maybe taste in writers/books is just too specific? Something like Daytrotter for small presses sounds great, but literature just isn't as easy entry for people as music is. I can listen to a 3-minute song and decide if there's anything there for me pretty quick, you know?

I say all this as someone who has a small press myself. It's not my main job, and I've only got three books out there, but it's just me doing my little part and it makes me happy. I haven't made any real $ on it, but I don't feel like I can control that so I don't worry about it. I just want to put out good books that I like, make them look as professional as possible, and the rest is really out of my hands. I send out review copies and am working on getting more readings, maybe staging an event, but again, that's more for my own edification. I don't have super-high expectations because I think the only way anything would ever take off would be in some organic way that I couldn't pretend to predict. The three titles so far — two full-length poetry collections from Dave Newman, and a novel from Sarah Shotland, more info at www.whitegorillapress.com — have done well enough to be encouraging, that's about all I can ask. I've got a couple of more books already in the pipeline and plan to keep plugging away as long as it makes me happy.

Alright, in the interest of promotion, here's the first poem from Newman's latest...

[No, sorry, we don't do that here. -ed.]
[... And I cannot believe that the counterculture is shrinking nor dead & buried. I believe in waves, ebbs & flows, comings & goings, rising & falling...popular things/trends become unpopular and then rise to the surface again & again...]
It has shrunk definitely, but that was inevitable with the decline in youth culture, as was the case with the post war baby boom.Until you have similar demographics, with a large chunk of the population being under 25, the challenge of the generation gap to authority will be pretty feeble. Maybe as the increasing clash between the enviroment and consumerism worsens that will be enough? I don't know. But the critical mass just isn't there at the moment. But I am probably being too defeatist to.
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why not think of reasons of how it will succeed?
I told you how it would succeed: when one person wants it to succeed. Find that person and your dreams have been answered.

I disagree that it would be hard to promote or draw people to such a place though. If it was well done it would have no competition, and when you have no competition it's easier to find an audience.
But look at this website, bukowskiforum: It's fucking beautiful!
Well this is actually a perfect example. Because this (when I say "this" I mean all of bukowski.net, not just the forum) is the result of the input of hundreds of people, but one single person makes it and keeps it going. And that kind of person isn't normal, ya dig? You aren't going to find them waiting for you at the coffee shop, you can't shake them out of a tree.

It seems to me if that person existed for what you propose, they'd already be doing what you're looking for.

So I guess this means that it's up to you to do it.
I apologize for including the poem and book sample in previous post, but aren't there a number of similar promotional posts here, in this section of the forum, for people's books? I seem to see a bunch of stuff from Bottle of Smoke at least. Just wondering what the difference is, not trying to cause trouble.
Gentlemen, thank you for your replies. I won't quote them but I will address their salient points.

A $1000 camera...I think this endeavor will probably start with a built-in webcam and Skype...That's not ideal but if you wait for the ideal conditions they may never come...I don't have a webcam...I am using a 2007 laptop with Vista...I've never used a webcam or Skype...I don't know how to record a video conference and transfer it to Youtube but if it's possible, I will learn how to do it....

How do we get people to watch the show? We start small, naturally. We drop a link here at Buknet, in the All Things Not Bukowski forum. We interview any authors & publishers who are members here and happen to create counterculture materials. Perhaps if our small press publishers here appreciate the show then they will provide a link to it at their websites. Word will spread naturally. In addition to interviews, I think authors should read selected pieces from their books. I think the authors of our small press publishers should already be reading their stuff online at Youtube...

We're not really up against the dancing cat videos. We're not up against anyone except inertia & fear of failure, really. Competition is an illusion. It all comes down to destiny. It was either on the cards or it weren't. All we can do is take our best running leap at it.

Is there a counterculture anymore? Well, shee-it, maybe there never was one---except in my head! Maybe there never has been a Centralized Location for the Counterculture...Perhaps the closest was the Howard Stern Show, I mean on a national level. He's a fan of hard rock and metal and Sam Kinison and Bill Hicks....but not necessarily a fan of books & poetry....No, I guess there never has been a dedicated show or venue or centralized location/one-stop-shop for counterculture writers, poets, publishers, thinkers, musicians......Damn...

For me the counterculture means Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks, Pantera, Suicidal Tendencies, The Infectious Grooves, Bukowski, Crumb, Hunter S. Thompson, Alan Watts, Marijuana, LSD, Shrooms, MDMA, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, the aforementioned Stern show, a wholesale distrust of ALL politicians, a loathing for celebrities, a wholesale distrust of the Media and its manipulative propaganda, a wholesale loathing for ALL religions, an appreciation for Free Thinkers, Hippies, Yippies, tree huggers, eco terrorists, anti-government revolutionaries, Anonymous, hactivists, and grumpy old curmudgeons who enjoy using words like cunt and pussy lips. It's an anti-slave spirit, y'know? It's an anti-walking-to-the-gas-chamber-in-an-orderly-manner type of spirit, yea? It's a scrutinizing spirit. It's the ol' 1-2-3-4, what are we fighting for? type of rebelliousness.

Good point about needing a host who is interesting enough on his/her own to draw in viewers...but I don't think they have to be all that great on their own; they just have to ask interesting questions and converse rather than Q&A interview. Ask questions but rebound off the answers. Don't be so quick to move on to the next question. Have an actual conversation.

I guess it is up to me...gulp!
Don't nobody go holding their breath, ya hear?
This might take awhile...
I apologize for including the poem and book sample in previous post, but aren't there a number of similar promotional posts here, in this section of the forum, for people's books? I seem to see a bunch of stuff from Bottle of Smoke at least. Just wondering what the difference is, not trying to cause trouble.
Some form of mention and promotion of books and related materials is allowed, especially if that member has taken the time to demonstrate some sort of appreciation for Bukowski and his works (and even constructive criticism). The line is drawn on including poetry or other written excerpts, etc. If the mods allow it once, they need to always allow it, and that has led to...problems in the past. This is why your mention of Dave Newman, Sarah Shotland and your own books was retained but the poem was removed. I'm not speaking in any official capacity, as I have none here. But, I've seen some things, man. :wb:
Just wondering what the difference is...
What @Purple Stickpin said. We had a thread for people's poetry back in the Pleistocene era of the forum, but it wasn't exactly productive. Probably because most people can't write good poetry. There are plenty of places to post poetry, this just ain't one of them.

So the tl;dr version: plugging is okay, posting work is not.
Brother Schenker, sorry for my post. I didn't mean to be insulting or rude. I was just thinking at the time that this site is a haven for small press information and all its glorious books. And the CENTRALIZED location you say we need is here, at this site. Peace.
-pretentious jerk,
And I am sorry for calling you a pretentious jerk. It just rubs me the wrong way when someone---especially a writer---complains about the length of a post or thread. Writing is fun! Why should I limit my fun? Why should I be self conscious about the length of my expressions? I'm a jam-band kind of dude, why should I try to keep my songs short & sweet when I enjoy extended, improvisational solos?

We are little ants playing on a grain of sand in the middle of outer space---in the middle of bloody fucken nowhere---I'll be goddamned if I am gonna hold back or limit my expressions just because some people have seriously short attention spans---or simply don't like my voice on the page.

I admit it---I do indeed love the sound of my own voice on the page. I re-read my posts and Amazon reviews over & over throughout the years. I am my biggest fan---and maybe my only fan.

But fuck it, as long as I have dope to smoke and food to eat and dogs to hug, I will continue to write however I damn well please.

Cheers for saying sorry.
I wasn't expecting that.
Over here on the left coast (north of 49) we've had BC Bookworld going on for 30 years. Hard copies can be picked up at book stores, local libraries and modes of transport like the ferries from the mainland to The Island. And you can buy many of the books featured in BC Bookworld on those ferries. (As some git once sang, "those tourists are money".) As was noted on the latest test podcast it just takes one dedicated person to start up and maintain something. Others eventually jump on board. And with all that the province at the edge of the world can thumb its nose at the center of the universe, Toronto. :D
I think a big problem is that writers often do their best work on paper (as per one of mjp's podcasts with Hosh). There have been podcasts run by people in the small press, but they're often friends who indulge each other and are therefore often of little interest to outsiders (this is not limited to books of course). I have some regular collectors who come back and I'm not sure why that is, but I try to make every person who buys a book feel like there's someone in a dark room thinking about them and not their money. I stick inclusions in, hand-printed bits, a postcard, a drawing, or something. It's not revolutionary but hell it's better than a brown box with Amazon printed on it. Too many people want to jump into the same rat race that they purport to hate. They want promotion, branding, advertising, all the things that make mainstream publishing so nauseatingly bland and homogeneous. Something that was truly about the writing and not some desperate clamber for sales could be interesting.

There are lots of things going on in the book world out there, usually on a cottage industry scale and that's what keeps them interesting. A good podcast/youtube channel for small press books could be fun, so good luck.
The sad truth is, what we're up against is videos of cats being frightened by cucumbers...or riding on Roombas in a shark outfit. Without people's attention, everything remains ignored just as much as Lulu/POD/smashwords books.

okay, railing against oprah's book club i get, but a world where videos of cats wearing shark costumes riding roombas is the enemy is not a world i want to live in.
[...Over here on the left coast (north of 49) we've had BC Bookworld going on for 30 years....]
I like the magazine, but I don't know Digney, the first bit on the welcome page " We aspire to middle-brow usefulness. Four times per year..." doesn't exactly shout Get your Cuban Revolution Here!:wb:
Opinion on what is counter culture, is diverse but it's got to be more than nicely placed artisan shops selling hand knitted jumpers made of organically grown seaweed, or artful loaves of bread at five times the price at Lidls or Tescos, basically another outlet for the middle class to feel superior and alternative, to the masses.
Well it is Canada after all, a tenth the population of the US down south. Everything is smaller, and somewhat counter to the elephant in the continent. :aerb:

And, because of a BC Bookworld story I read while taking the ferry across to Victoria, I recently bought this book.

afterthought jerry kruz.jpg
Well it is Canada after all, a tenth the population of the US down south. Everything is smaller, and somewhat counter to the elephant in the continent. :aerb:
We feel a bit like that too, with our southerners:).
Nice book, I love psychedelic album covers and not so long ago got Small Faces Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake for the inside bits more than the cover really. This 1967 french pressing of Jimi Hendrix Are You Experienced is on my want list but it's way too expensive, keep hoping I'll find it in a second hand shop:

Rob Chapman has a serious book out this year on the same; Psychedelia and Other Colours.But it's pricey, will try getting it second hand. Have you looked at the work of Marijke Koger? she was in 60's band called The Fool, worked as an artist too, album covers, lots of artists guitars, Lennon's Piano!, a lot of Apple stuff etc.

Favourite album covers of hers:

So sorry, to swing this away from the topic, just wanted to say that. That's it!
I can definitely see this going somewhere. Brother Shenker should not be put in charge though. Stick him down in the engine room and let his wild man juice fuel the burners while saner and more stable minds do the leg work and decision making up on deck and in the pilot house :agb:

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