It’s not often there’s a new publisher in town, and even less often when you consider that this is a publisher specializing in GBLT historic fiction. I managed to catch Mark on the eve of Cheyenne Publishing’s relaunch of some of the most prestigious novels of the m/m historical romance genre to ask him a few questions about this new direction. In addition to being the owner of Cheyenne Publishing, Mark is the author of The Filly, the gay YA novel which was one of the books at the center of the Amazonfail bust up this spring.
Many thanks for agreeing to this interview, Mark.
What made you want to get into publishing?
First and foremost—my love of good literature. My mother was a voracious reader and she instilled that value in me when I was very young. Secondly, because gay-positive books were not readily available when I was growing up, I wanted to do something to fill that void. So I wrote a gay young-adult novel of the type that I would have liked when I was younger. The publishing part came about when I wasn’t able to get my story published; I decided to start my own publishing house and then later, when people started asking if I would consider publishing others, I thought, why not?
What’s it like on the other side of that publishing/writer divide?
Well, having been on the other side I know what it’s like to have door after door after door shut in your face with a flippant “Sorry, not for us” tossed at you. And now I have authors contacting me to consider their work. So here I am in a position I really don’t like where I have to turn authors down, and I know how frustrating it is for them. But on the other hand, finding a fresh new talent is very rewarding. The submission call I did in collaboration with Bristlecone Pine Press for the military anthology, turned up a very talented young writer, Jordan Taylor, who hadn’t been published before and was selected over many other applicants who had been previously published.
What made you choose these books for your big launch?
I was acquainted with Erastes and Lee Rowan though some online writing groups that we all belong to, and I’ve been a fan of their work. Frost Fair and Speak Its Name were books that I personally felt were examples of some of the best historical gay fiction that had been published in the last few years. I heard that they were looking to move these books to a different publisher. Leslie Nicoll of Bristlecone Pine Press and I were collaborating on a couple of projects where Cheyenne was publishing the print books and Bristlecone was publishing the digital counterparts, so she and I discussed it and mutually decided to make an offer to pick up all of Erastes’ and Lee’s books from this other publisher. And we were quite overjoyed when they both accepted our offer.
Where do you see your firm in five years?
Probably not where you’d guess. I don’t want Cheyenne Publishing to have grown into some huge company that gets bought out by another bigger publisher. No, I’d still like to be running a small publishing house, but to have attracted enough of a consumer base to be able to grow some. In five years I hope to have built up a strong line of gay young-adult titles that are predominately rooted in the historical genre. I’d hope that maybe by then when readers are chatting in forums about gay historical books, the name Cheyenne would be one that gets mentioned often as a favorite.
What do I do if I want to submit a book to Cheyenne Publishing?
For Cheyenne Publishing, all you need to do is email a query letter with a brief synopsis. If I like what you have to offer, I’ll invite you to send in a partial or perhaps even the full manuscript.