FOR EXPOSURE: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A SMALL PRESS PUBLISHER, Jason Sizemore

Before I go any further, let me give writers these words of advice: never, ever respond to a rejection. You’re not going to change anybody’s mind. Move on and try again with a different story.

Also before I go any further, let me give editors these words of advice: never, ever respond to a rejection response. The writer at the other end of the letter is likely in an emotional and irrational state. Move on, you have hundreds of stories waiting for you in the slush pile.

Jason Sizemore’s For Exposure isn’t quite like anything else I’ve read – for that matter I don’t think there are too many titles out there chronicling the life and times of running a small press (writers’ memoirs are plenty; editors’ and publishers’ less so).

It’s a very personal, and very honest, book. It gets into the numbers, the practicalities: being cheated out of money by distributors, That Guy who won’t stop pitching the editor terrible novels at cons, the ups and downs of running a business specializing in some of the most unpredictable markets on earth. It also reminds us that publishing is – though certainly a business – also a thing most people do as a labor of love (paid, of course, but it’s mostly about love of reading and love of the imagination rather than the Capitalistic Dream).

It is also, of course, absolutely entertaining.

Thanks to my deep-in-the-Appalachian accent, many words I say come out sounding profane or nonsensical. “Horror” always came out as “whore.”

(I asked Jason on twitter how many times this has gotten him into trouble. Apparently, a lot!)

It amuses me thoroughly that one of Apex’s writers today literally asked Jason ‘Who the fuck are you?’ the first time they met – it’s that kind of book: full of endearing anecdotes, spirited friendship, a lot of con experiences (which make me worry for Jason – he does seem to run into excruciating health problems at cons a lot!), embarrassing but hilarious stories, ‘eyewitness rebuttals’ all in the spirit of fun. And the most hilarious footnotes ever!

I do wish there were a bit more on the advent of digital publishing, ebooks, and all that – but I’m pretty interested in that sort of thing, disruptive technology and all that, and I appreciate it’s stuff too dry for the tone of the book, which aims toward lighthearted. The overall direction and theme help a lot in taking away the image of the publisher as humorless and heartless gatekeeper: to a reader, it makes you want to support this resilient and charming small press. To a writer, it makes you really want to work with Apex because all this (as many sections of the book are by folks Jason has worked with and Apex’s other staff) tells you it’s run by fantastic, generous and lovable people.

Get a copy. I gifted one to a friend and that’s one of the highest recommendations I can make for a book.

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