If you have read my blog post on Art you will be aware I have poetry published in the small-press. I’ve been having work printed in the small-press for just over thirty years and thought that perhaps I could interview Southend-on-Sea’s DJ Tyrer who runs the Atlantean Publishing.
Cox. I’ve been having work published by you for years but how would you describe yourself and when did you start Atlantean Press? (Was Monomyth the first publication? I think I had something in quiet an early issue).
DJ. Atlantean Publishing started with the first issue of Monomyth in December 1996, although the press name didn’t come into use until after Awen started in 2000. Which means the press/Monomyth will celebrating twenty years in December this year (2016). I’m still amazed we made it through the first couple of years!
I would describe myself as overworked, but not under-appreciated – readers and contributors are amazingly positive about our publications and that keeps me going through those difficult patches that are so common for small press publishers.
Your poem “Kite in Orion” was in issue 15 of Monomyth – which appears to be the only time you’ve been in an issue. Issue 15 was not only your first appearance in an Atlantean publication, but the first time for Steve Sneyd, David Leverton and DS Davidson, too. [Steve Sneyd is a real star of the British small-press scene. Cox]
Cox. Who (or what) inspired you to start Monomyth? Do you remember any titles?
DJ. Monomyth was inspired by four friends coming together with a shared love of writing and little knowledge of the small press (a typical case of “Hey, we should…” only actually carried to fruition!).
Had we been aware of the many outlets that actually existed, it’s entirely possible Monomyth may never have been created (or not until years later) as we may well have concentrated our energies on attempting to crack an existing market. There was no specific inspiration or template, other than a general knowledge of the old pulps and such anthologies as those released by Pan in the ’80s.
Cox. Ah, when I started fanzines in the ’80s I was more inspired by what I’d heard of fanzines than any I’d actually seen (which were very few). This can be a good thing, I’d say. How soon did you start to attract readers and contributors in those early days?
DJ. The earliest issues mostly went out to friends and family and spread by word of mouth. Adverts in small press ‘zines began to attract readers and contributions later in 1997 (the first issue to contain an outside contribution appears to have been the last of the year). During 1998, things really took off, which is also when (vision having overreached capability) we began to fall behind schedule, eventually forcing Monomyth into haitus until it could be relaunched with a more realistic schedule (also leading to the creation of Awen and The Supplement).
Cox. You now have around seven regular titles (Monomyth, The Supplement, Awen, Bards, Garbaj, Yellow Leaves and the Xothic) plus Awen on-line and titles from individual writers. How many submissions do you get a month? What percentage do you reject? Do you actually have time to sleep?
DJ. It’s difficult to say how many submissions we get amongst the orders, letters of comment, queries and junk mail (lots of junk mail!), especially as I’m responding to them mainly on a person-by-person or anthology basis, rather than by date (meaning there are no ‘complete’ months to examine). But, based on recent submissions, we seem to be getting two or three a day most days, which would equate to between 50 and 100 a month. Which certainly explains why the backlog never seems to decline, no matter how many I seem to look at!
I would estimate I probably accept less than a third of submissions. Most acceptances are poetry as we have the most slots for those. Booklet ideas are the most likely to be rejected as I can only produce a few a year and already have plenty waiting to be released.
Sleep? What’s that? I could do with a few more hours in the day to chase down the inpile and finally bring it back under control.
Cox. I know you’ve recently been getting a number of your own short-stories published in anthologies, could you say something about that?
DJ. Having returned to submitting fiction after a hiatus of a few years, I’ve been successful in building a momentum of acceptances that has seen my work appearing in a number of anthologies recently. It’s been hard work, but success doesn’t happen if you don’t put the effort in and the key lesson for any budding writing is that the most important step is to actually submit your work and keep submitting it, not be put off by fear of rejection. Rejection is an inevitable part of being published, but you just have to push on and keep submitting your work.
Although I’ve been most successful in the horror field, I’ve also had SF, Fantasy, Steampunk, Cyberpunk, etc, stories in anthologies and magazines (and not always with a horror element) and occasionally have even strayed off in quite different directions: I like to vary my output, in part for practice and in part to avoid getting stale.
Cox. The small-press scene often goes through peaks and troughs (perhaps more troughs though, I remember a few titles stopped with a recent rise in postage rates). What do you think of the future?
DJ. The small presses are currently in a state of flux with a lot of the old guard of editors and writers dying off, which has had a negative impact on the older zines and publishers, while new technologies create new opportunities for those moving in to take their place. While it’s difficult to predict the outcome of current trends, I think that, on the whole, the futures is a positive one as currently technologies and outlets make it far easier for small-presses to produce high-quality products and find an audience for them. Those of us still largely doing things the ‘old way’ may fade away or adapt or might find a niche for what we do, but as a whole, I think the small presses are due a renaissance, hopefully one that will revitalise poetry and fiction in the mainstream.
Thanks David-John for taking the time to talk to us. If any of the blog readers would like to see the range of titles that I have had published by Atlantean Publishing send a cheque for £3 (made payable to DJ Tyrer) and you should receive my issue of The Bards (15), my issue of Yellow Leaves (3) and the Lovecraftian Xothic Sathlattae (issues 3 & 8) and Codex Yokai. Write to :-
4 Pierrot Steps
71 Kursaal Way