Twit Publishing is run by Chris and Craig Gabrysch. Based in Dallas, Texas, the team of brothers puts out a collection of short stories twice a year, their PULP! Anthology. I had the opportunity to talk with Chris and Craig about Twit Publishing and about battling mermaids and dragons.
Julie: Hello Chris and Craig Gabrysch of Twit Publishing!
Chris: Hey, Julie.
Craig: Hi, Julie.
Julie: Twit Publishing is an independent publisher. How did Twit Publishing come to be and how’d you come up with the name?
Craig: We originally started off with an idea for doing digital comic books on the iPhone in mid 2009. I’d written scripts for three issues, and gotten to the point where we were looking for an artist to actually start the illustration process. And we stalled. Every artist we talked to fell through or charged too much money.
One of the ideas we’d kicked around was doing an anthology of short stories that were strictly digital. After the road blocks on contracting an artist, we decided to go with plan B because we figured it’d be easier. It morphed from doing digital only, to covering print and digital.
Chris: Well, for the name, I wanted to use another word, where you replace the “I” with an “A,” but that’s pretty profane, but rolls off the tongue, like “moist.” Couldn’t use it, obviously, so we went with twit. Our mother used to call us a couple of twits when we were younger, too, so that helped. We can both be pretty sarcastic at times, so it fits our personalities. In fact, we have a definition of the word set up like an old dictionary entry on the back of our business cards. We purposely duplicated the old typesetting of a leather-bound Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary from the late sixties that I’d lifted from my dad when I went off to college. That was before the internet was popular, so I did actually use it.
Julie: You publish a solid, kick ass anthology twice a year. It’s your Pulp! Anthology, a collection of fifteen stories that range from science fiction to fantasy to even a little horror. Is this a new breed of pulp fiction? I noticed a blog entry one of you made about dieselpunk/new pulp. Is that what you had in mind when selecting stories for the latest anthology?
Chris: Thank you. I love the series, of course, because I get to pick the stories! We’ve always thought of them as a “work horse” publication. Something that will always bring steady money to the company without too much experimentation involved. I hate correcting you, Julie, but we only put out fourteen stories in Summer/Fall 2012 and the rest are twelve. We plan to keep them at twelve; I hate odd numbers, especially thirteen. I’m not superstitious, mind you, just a little OCD.
Craig: He lies. He is superstitious. We really don’t set out from the get go to pick a “theme” for each book. Chris gets the stories, and if he likes them, they go in. It just so happens that we sometimes end up with a theme of sorts, and a good mix.
As far as the new pulp/dieselpunk thing goes, we’ve never really intended to start or support new genres. We started the anthologies well before we even knew about either movement. Chris and I would just sit around and discuss different literary movements and genres, and we agreed that pretty much all genre fiction came out of the old pulps. When we discussed doing an anthology that covered all these genres, we settled on PULP! as the title. I’m not going to go into who thought of the name first because this is, like most half-remembered things between brothers, a point of contention. Extreme contention.
Chris: Basically, I pick stories I like. Good stories I’d like to read over and over. I’m the one who reads them over and over and has to edit them, so they better be damn good. The genre of pulp is so broad, that it includes most stories that I get.
Julie: What made you jump into the world of publishing?
Craig: Honestly, we’d been looking at the comic book stuff for my original idea, and I just thought to myself: “This can’t be that hard, can it?” One of my good friends told us that he’d give us the seed money . . . which didn’t really amount to much money, to tell you the truth. Chris and I split the legal fees for incorporating and the cost of a desktop printer. I already knew how to use Indesign for layout, and Chris was familiar with Photoshop. He’d already edited a book for an acquaintance of ours, and got back in the habit of proofreading and copyediting. And that was that. We put out a call for short stories and had the first PULP! a few months later.
Chris: The anthology idea was a great starting point. Craig and I were at a comic book convention looking and pricing artists, when I just said to him, let’s publish a short story anthology and figure out the kinks of publishing early on as an experiment. It worked well for us, we put out a semi-yearly publication that created a quick catalog for a start-up publisher. I have a BA in English, and why the hell should I not use it?
Julie: You’re brothers. What’s it like working with a sibling?
Craig: Yes. I’m the younger brother. Working with a sibling is awful and wonderful at the same time. We have the same general ideas about most things, which makes completing a project pretty easy. But we really get into it about the small stuff. It took us almost four scream-filled hours to write a paragraph. Mind you, it was an important paragraph, and, when we were finished, it was a great paragraph, but we still were at each others throats for four hours over the damned thing.
Chris: I agree with Craig fully, which will be probably one of the few times I do. We’ve got a difference of five and a half years between us, so there’s the age dynamic, but we also like a lot of the same things, especially music, art, and literature. It can be quite infuriating at times, but when it comes down to the bottom line, we both have the best interests of the project at heart. Basically, we’re both passionate people. We also know each other very well and know which buttons to push. I hate and love him, but I also know he hates and loves me just the same. We have good chemistry together and play off each others weaknesses and strengths. To tell you the truth, he’s the best creative and business partner I’ve ever worked with.
Julie: And what’s it like working with a sibling as independent publishers in Dallas, Texas?
Craig: By the way, we do live together. But, I don’t think there’s much difference between being a publisher here and being a publisher somewhere else. It’s not like we get stopped on the street or anything. It’s cool when I see one of our stickers in the back window of someone’s car, and people have actually heard our names. But, it’s about what you would expect: a hard slog where you’re fighting for every sale and trying to get a book out there.
Chris: Yeah, I stick our stickers up around the Greenville area of Dallas where we live, but I have no clue if it matters. It’s nice being in a major city, we get the high traffic for conventions and all, but does it matter? Nope, not at all. Publishing has become a global industry along with everything else. We’re available through Amazon and the “word of mouth” advertising does always help, but I don’t know if it helps that much. I would like to think that it does, but what do I know.
Julie: Do you have distinct separate tasks? Or do you share responsibilities?
Craig: I do the layout, run the finances, act as a sales rep, and manage the website. I blog, too, after Chris harangues me enough about it. I know it sounds glorious and all, but it’s really not.
Chris: I do the editing, select out of the many stories we have coming in, harangue Craig, come up with pretty covers, and layout ideas for the books. It’s funny, but I think he could probably do a half-ass job of the stuff I do without me. I’m sure he’d agree.
Julie: If you had a choice, would you, as brothers, battle a school of vampire mermaids or a metal-scaled fire-breathing alien dragon?
Craig: The mermaids are a no-go. Chris and I don’t get along when it comes to women. I’m going with the metal-scaled fire-breathing alien dragon.
Chris: We’ve tried the “wingman” thing and it’s always failed furiously, like an airplane crashing into the ground, go figure. I would prefer the mermaids, because it seems easier, but we’d probably just argue too much in front of them and get killed before we knew it. Metal-scaled fire-breathing alien dragon would probably be the best bet, but I think we’d be over-matched, even though we both smoke and have thick skin.
Julie: How would you defeat them (weapon of choice, game plan, etc)?
Chris: I’d go with me engaging them in an intellectual argument about religion, and Craig running around the back and stabbing them.
Craig: I’d use my dual-classed level 20 fighter/mage. He has an AC of 35 or -10 depending on the edition you’re going with. He’s faster, stronger, smarter, and has better rolls than any space-dragon out there.
Chris: Nice, I never played role playing games as much as Craig, so, of course, I’m not a complete nerd.
Julie: I noticed you’re putting together the next Pulp! Anthology. Will the stories have a certain theme? Or will it be another exquisite collection of bizarre pulpy tales?
Craig: Bizarre pulpy tales. The mix is the best part of our anthologies. Chris, tell her about the girl we had at one of our conventions.
Chris: Yeah, I will. She loved the stories. She told me that she’s never read anything like them before. She was a youngun who’d grown up on Twilight and was surprised that Anne Rice had ever existed. She was a sweetheart. Loved her and I appreciated the impact that I made on her, especially because when I talked to her I had sold her a book two hours before and saw her reading them in a hallway. It was one of the greatest feelings I felt as a publisher. It was like, “They really love me!” I even told her to go back to Craig and have him sign it, that he won’t bite.
I never have a theme. I always pick the best stories, and hopefully, they fit together. Exquisitely . . . they are always a bunch of great stories that I try to put into an order that flows. Hopefully it works.
Julie: For writers out there looking to submit to Twit Publishing, do you have any tips?
Craig: Edit. Edit. Edit. Edit. Edit. If your grammar is poor, it comes through in your word choice. I hear Chris. It matters.
Chris: It does matter. I can always tell when a writer has edited thoroughly. Craig has heard plenty of times that I’ve bitched about writers that don’t review their writing. When they do, I can tell that they actually care about the writing process. Working as an editor, I do review every single submission for our publications. I love great twist endings and love great original stories from authors.
Julie: Thank you, Chris and Craig! I love the stories in the anthologies and can’t wait to read the next one!
For a chance to win a hard copy of Twit Publishing’s latest PULP! Anthology, all you have to do is post a comment.
The winner is Ash! Congratulations!