Interview with Mike Malpiedi, Distribution Manager/Editor, and Josh Savory, Editor-in-Chief/Founder
How did Game Over Books start?
Game Over Books is the brainchild of our founder and editor-in-chief, Josh Savory. Josh had been wanting to start a publishing company for years and finally decided to do the damn thing about a year and a half ago by collaborating with M. Less on their book, Flood. He picked the name Game Over Books simply because he was nerdy, was roping in other nerdy queer folk to help with the press, and because he just “needed a name.”
Tell us a bit about Game Over Books. What are your influences, your aesthetic, your mission?
Game Over Books is a small publisher run collaboratively by a group of nerdy artists. Our goal is to amplify diverse voices in writing and bring high-quality publications to all people. We are working to accomplish this by focusing on emerging writers and giving guidance and support as they continue to grow their craft.
We pour all the love we have into each project to create high-quality books that we believe will change the way people view small press publications.
We also want to change the way artists are given value for their work by properly compensating them for the projects they develop with us. Our press prides itself on being transparent with authors and being available to respond to their questions and concerns.
Can you give us a preview of what’s current and/or forthcoming from your catalog, as well as what you’re hoping to publish in the future?
Our most recent release was Rust Belt Love Song by Megan Neville which we released in March. Megan was actually selected as a finalist for the recent Write Bloody contest and we are incredibly excited to see where her career goes from here (and that she chose us to print and care for her first book!). We also have some incredible books from Boston and Providence based writers such as Claudia Wilson, Lip Manegio, Muggs Fogarty, and Sara Mae. All of these artists are prolific in the spoken word and poetry scenes within New England and have also made names for themselves as activists and powerful organizers.
We just finished our second open submission period and are very excited to reveal our next slate of books in the coming months. We are looking at about 4-5 new releases between Fall 2019 and Summer 2020.
We used to ask, “What about small/independent press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?” We’re still interested in the answer to that, but we’re even more interested to know what you think needs to change.
One of the main reasons Josh started Game Over Books is because he felt that the publishing industry, including both major and small press publishers, is not focused enough on actually supporting the writers they publish (not giving fair cuts of book sale profits, slow to offer manuscript feedback and support, being more profit focused than working toward promoting needed voices, etc.).
Game Over seeks to change the small press experience for writers and audiences alike, but especially for the writers. We do a lot of work behind the scenes, but the writers create the work so they deserve the most credit and profit for it. They are the reason we even have a project to work on in the first place. We also have developed a remarkably quick submission and publishing processes.
We have seen that a fair amount of presses take forever and a day to make publishing decisions and to get back to writers on their manuscript status. As writers ourselves, we know how much anxiety that can induce, so we work hard to make sure that our response times are as quick as possible. We typically let writers know where their manuscript or sample stands after a submission period within two months of receiving it. And after we have selected something, we start to work on that manuscript immediately.
We also are open to giving constructive feedback whether we have chosen to publish your work or not. If you would like actual criticism, we will take the time to write out detailed notes on what could be improved within the work. A lot of presses tend to give generic email responses or don’t even bother to tell you why your work wasn’t selected. We take the time to work with you and sometimes offer potential rereads in the future.
How do you cope? There’s been a lot of conversation lately about charging reading fees, printing costs, rising book costs, who should pay for what, etc. Do you have any opinions on this, and would you be willing to share any insights about the numbers at Game Over Books?
As of right now, we manage all aspects of the publishing process and those costs to the best of our ability so our writers don’t have to worry. Game Over Books believes that the writer should not be paying for anything involved in the publication process. The tradeoff is we request writers market their work to the best of their ability. We care more about getting their voices out into the world than what it costs us to do it. That might not seem like the most fiscally smart way of running the press, but it has worked for us so far since people can clearly see our integrity. Both our audience and authors appreciate how much love and energy we pour into our books. And because of this, we continue to get more submissions each reading period and folks chiming in that we want to work with us. Being clear with our mission and stance, and actually adhering to it, has helped us make sales and bring in new projects which keep our wheels turning.