Writing for Marcher Lord Press
So you think you’ve got what it takes to be a Marcher Lord, do you? Well, here’s your chance to find out.
Marcher Lord Press publishes only the coolest speculative stories from the Christian worldview. So if you’ve got one you think is amazing but you realize the traditional Christian publishing industry is not the place for you, you’re in the right place.
And I’m about to give you the opportunity to prove that you can take your place beside the stalwart men and women who have gone before you as Marcher Lord Press authors.
But before you go any further, you must understand how Marcher Lord Press is different from traditional Christian publishers.
The Marcher Lord Press Publishing Model
What is it that sets Marcher Lord Press apart from every other Christian publishing company?
If you’re curious about the industry—or you think you might want to become a Marcher Lord Press author—this is an essential question.
The most obvious thing that sets Marcher Lord Press apart is the kind of fiction it concentrates on. No other Christian publishing company is dedicated to nothing but Christian speculative fiction.
What is Christian speculative fiction, you ask? It’s the “weird” stuff: fantasy, science fiction, time travel, spiritual warfare, alternate history, chillers, superhero fiction, near-future technothrillers, and supernatural thrillers. All the Christian stories that are off the edge of the map.
A second major difference between Marcher Lord Press and traditional Christian publishing companies is that Marcher Lord Press…well, it isn’t like those other companies at all.
They’re big; Marcher Lord Press isn’t. They work through the traditional Christian publishing channels—like Christian bookstores and distribution companies; MLP doesn’t. They cater to the predilections of the standard “CBA reader” (mainly: females who like romances and female-oriented thrillers); MLP caters to those who love Christian fantasy and science fiction. The Christians who love Heroes and Battlestar Galactica and Lord of the Rings.
Traditional Christian publishing companies have so many employees and so much overhead that they have to sell at least 5,000 units of any book in order to break even. MLP has one staff member and has such a low overhead that it needs to sell only 250 units of any title to break even.
Traditional Christian publishing companies try to get into bookstores and Wal-Mart. MLP sells exclusively through the Internet. They have to go through buyers at bookstore chains; MLP goes straight to the target consumer.
Traditional Christian publishers print 5,000 to 10,000 copies of a book at a time and have to worry about shipping, warehousing, deep discounts, and returns from bookstores. MLP prints only to order and ships directly from the printer to the consumer.
Marcher Lord Press is small and independent and can publish exactly the kind of novels its leadership likes. It is not so big that it is constrained to publish only what the public demands.
All Christian publishing companies of any size are closed to unagented authors. Marcher Lord Press is open to anyone and everyone who 1) has a completed manuscript of appropriate length, 2) writes from a Christian worldview, and 3) has written a story that MLP staff and readership would like.
Best of all for the author, Marcher Lord Press shares with its authors a percentage of the revenues from booksales that is unprecedented in Christian publishing. MLP authors receive roughly quadruple the rate of profits as compared to authors at traditional Christian publishing houses.
But there are other distinctives about Marcher Lord Press that might not be as appealing to aspiring Christian novelists. You need to hear these and consider them before asking to become a Marcher Lord Press author.
First, Marcher Lord Press offers no author advances. (Well, we do actually pay a $10 advance to make the contract slightly more official.) Authors receive a much higher royalty rate, but get almost nothing in advance. (Neither do they pay—Marcher Lord Press is not a vanity press or self-publishing entity.)
Second, Marcher Lord Press titles are not expected to find their way to bookstore shelves. The primary sales channel will be the Internet. A Marcher Lord Press author may never see his or her novel at the local bookstore or Wal-Mart.
Third, Marcher Lord Press will do very little in terms of marketing the novels we publish. There will be no multi-city book tours or TV appearances or advertisements in Publisher’s Weekly. (Authors may line up some of these independently, however, and MLP will certainly support those efforts.)
Fourth, Marcher Lord Press titles will probably not sell in high numbers. A traditional Christian publishing company might sell 5,000 units of a novel and call it an abject failure. Marcher Lord Press might sell 300 units of a novel and call it a bestseller.
Fifth, for the previous reason, a literary agent might advise an author not to publish with Marcher Lord Press. The reasoning would go something like this.
Traditional publishers, the agent might say, look at the sales histories of your previous published books. If you publish with Marcher Lord Press and your book sells only 300 units, a traditional publisher might say that this author simply can’t sell enough books, so we’ll pass on him or her.
Such a scenario may very well happen, but if you were to explain in your proposal to such a publisher that Marcher Lord Press successfully targeted a niche market and exceeded its sales expectations, most editors will be okay with it. Publishing professionals are supposed to make publishing decisions based on whether or not they think they can succeed with a book, not based on some silly argument like the one outlined above.
But you should know what some people might say if you publish with Marcher Lord Press.
Marcher Lord Press has precisely targeted its market and has positioned itself through pricing and expertise to reach that market and satisfy demand. It is poised to react to quick growth and is equipped to thrive with modest sales. Marcher Lord Press is a small publisher effectively reaching a niche market.
The ideal Marcher Lord Press author does not have stars in his eyes and is not expecting the standard rich and famous contract. Marcher Lord Press tends to attract the mature Christian novelist who has a wonderfully off-the-map story that simply must be told.
If you think that’s you, check out our writer’s guidelines.