Well, this past weekend saw the end of my publishing business. For the last 20 years or so I've put out 14 issues of Science Fiction Trails and before that seven issues of Trails: Intriguing Stories of the Old West. We published various horror and weird western anthologies like Six Guns Straight From Hell and Gunslingers & Ghost Stories and our most recent product, Tales From Dry Gulch. We put out a couple of issues of Steampunk Trails, but that never caught on and likewise Story Emporium which also sputtered.
Some of these projects did better than others. There were none of them I was ashamed of. We paid artists and writers for their work. I put up with an amazing amount of guff from some of these people, but looked past missed deadlines and plagiarized stories to the fact that most of the people I've worked with were a true pleasure.
In particular, I'd like to thank a few folks who were true friends of our endeavors. Laura Givens not only illustrated a heck of a lot of covers, but provided her wisdom as well. Julie Campbell worked as editor and co-editor on a number of endeavors for little pay. She never complained once when I felt we needed to change direction for business reasons. Then there are writers Sam Knight, Joel Jenkins and Henry Ram who supplied remarkable stories through thick and thin and deserve a special thank you. Plenty of others contributed over the years and I thank you all as well.
But I've seen a sharp downturn in sales which has made small press publishing quite challenging. It's getting harder to get reviews. But the most devastating problem that I cannot overcome is the nosedive in story submissions. Writers don't seem to want to bother anymore. They line up in droves for small publishers who rarely honor their contracts and go out of business with the changing seasons. Yet Science Fiction Trails Publishing has been around for over 20 years and we've seen most of these operations come and go. Now it's time for us to go. I can overcome a lot of challenges, but the lack of story submissions is one problem I cannot solve.
The recent effort to do a sequel for the Dry Gulch anthology was the last straw. Only three stories came in. They were great, but not nearly enough for a viable book. With that I give up.