On Plans & Agility & Ippy Awards

Updated Wisdom Tree cover featuring gold Ippy seal

This post was, as of even as late as mid-April, intended to announce the availability of the second installment of Nick Earls’ The True Story of Butterfish. I’m looking very forward to uploading those installments and sharing that book with you, but barely more than a week ago we learned, as we shared last post, that Wisdom Tree had won the Independent Publishers gold Ippy award for Best Adult Fiction ebook.

That night, I got to talk to Nick by phone for the first time. We’ve been working together for going on seven years now, but all our communication has been digital. It’s mostly logistical; given Nick’s location, he lives not only around the world but technically tomorrow from me most of the time, and that’s not to mention that though a cell phone can call basically anywhere, they’ll sure charge you for it, and I think I paid nearly five bucks a minute to deliver the good news by voice (WORTH IT).

Within that initial excitement we were still able to discuss current plans a bit, enough to note that we’d planned for Butterfish‘s launch in just a few days, and to rethink that. We’re excited to make it available digitally, and hopefully for it to find a new audience.

In fact, that’s what we’ve been hoping for ages; that Nick’s work will find a new audience. I’ve long held that Nick’s work deserves it — I’m thrilled that Nick has one in his native Australia, but his work isn’t so very Australia-specific that it should find its only audience there.

That’s why we’re holding off on Butterfish for now.

The Ippy award is big. There are an incredible amount of entries, and previous awards have recognized authors like Dave Eggers and Ayelet Waldman and publishers like McSweeney’s, Grove, and Dzanc. It’s basically a who’s who in indie publishing.

So it’s a huge honor for Exciting Press (and me) for Nick’s work to be recognized in that context. We want to celebrate Nick and that recognition.

Which is why we’re for the moment postponing Butterfish. We want to focus for a few weeks on this cooler than cool (ice cold) news.

The good news is that’s the benefit of agility, and Exciting Press. We may be small, but we can pivot quickly when we need to, update sales info and cover images within hours, instead of days or even weeks.


Nick Earls Wins the Ippy Award

According to my Gmail account, I wrote to Nick Earls just two days ago that, though we had submitted for the Ippy awards (and I thought we had a good shot), we sadly hadn’t been selected.

A couple of weeks back, you see, I got an email from the Ippy folks about whitelists and subscriptions. Apparently Gmail often sends their emails straight to spam. And there they all are, in my spam folder: “Yes, you are an Ippy Award medalist!”

Dated 4/17.

Earlier today, while I was at my dayjob, I was in a meeting when I noticed I’d gotten a call that had gone to voicemail. Which Siri/Apple helpfully transcribed — about as well as anyone might transcribe an interview with the current US president. Which is to say it was garbled and there might have been three complete sentences among a dozen, with lots of ellipses and some random nonsensical tangents.

What stuck out was “good news” and “congratulate.”


I mean holy shit.

I missed the selection because I wasn’t looking at regional/ebook. But there it is.

I’ve known Nick’s work for more than 15 years now. I read Perfect Skin just weeks after moving back in with my parents after 9/11.

I’ve been working with Nick for going on five years. Nick is the reason Exciting Press is a thing, a business, an entity. Nick was the first author besides me I signed on to publish.

And honestly, I’m one to take big bites before I know what I’m doing. I’m lucky that Nick has been patient while I’ve grown and explored and figured out what Exciting Press is and how we work. Nick is a brilliant author I’m honored and challenged to work with because working with him means I need to do better.

What I like is that that’s true of all the authors I work with. They’re all amazing, and as their publisher it’s a challenge to do better by them. To keep revising formats and covers and strategies and approach to continually improve to be sure that awesome work is getting what it needs.

I’m so proud Wisdom Tree won Best Adult Fiction Ebook. Because Nick had a vision, and challenged me with making it reality. With making a great ebook.

I talked to Nick just a little while ago to tell him the news. I hope he could sense my palpable excitement, and I hope his excitement only increases.

We made a great ebook. An Ippy-award-winning ebook.

I couldn’t be more proud or excited.

Do check Wisdom Tree out. It’s wonderful.

Don’t take my word for it. Or Nick’s. It won an Ippy.


No Expectations & The True Story of Butterfish

At this point, we probably have to call this launch one of the marshmallow variety, given how it’s going. I’m working to tweak and fill in pages behind the scenes while trying to keep up with the publishing (that’s the real work) behind those scenes, and meanwhile there’s life and taxes and housework and day jobs to attend to.

But anything worth doing is worth doing well, and anything worth building is worth building solidly. As my father would tell me.

This summer, Exciting Press has at least two brand new titles on the way: Miya Kressin’s great new No Expectations and Nick Earls’ truly excellent The True Story of Butterfish, as I mentioned a week or so back.

And I mentioned an Easter egg, and now that it’s Easter, I think it’s only appropriate to reveal it.

The astute among you will have caught the “1” there on the No Expectations reveal. And if you didn’t you can see it right there in the cover.

We’ll be serializing it. In five parts, starting on the first day of summer.

We’ll be doing the same thing with The True Story of Butterfish, as well as Nick’s other novel Analogue Men. No cover reveal there, because I’ve been working on the text first and haven’t gotten to the cover yet. You can, however, expect a late summer/early autumn release for that one. As far as I know, both will mark the first publications of those two novels outside Australia and New Zealand (where Nick’s huge).

We’re doing it as an experiment, much as Nick’s Wisdom Tree novella collection was. But keep an eye out, and expect to see installments announcements as we go.

We’ll also be looking at doing pre-orders.

And I’m saying “looking at” and “experiment” because I’m not yet sure about this format, but I’ve talked to both Nick and Miya about it and both have been encouragingly excited about it.


No Expectations Cover Reveal (with bonus Easter egg)

Several months ago, before even the holiday season, Miya Kressin finished her newest novel No Expectations.

I am so sorry you haven’t been able to buy it yet.

Spoiler: it’s so good.

I mean, I knew Miya could write. One need only check out the Asylum Saga to see how well Miya puts words together. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that she’s among the finest prose stylists I’ve ever encountered.

What do I mean by that?

At a word and sentence level, her prose works. And you might say, well, okay, but isn’t that always the case, but no, it’s not. You’ll find a lot of authors whose prose is competent. It gets the job done, keeps the sentences going and the pages turning.

Miya’s words and sentences are something else. Her stories are great, for sure, but there’s an intricacy and craft to her actual writing I find astounding.

With the Asylum Saga, Miya’s prose was working on several levels. Roseen is a complex character with a complex story and complex motivations. There’s a heft to the proceedings; we didn’t call it a Saga for nothing, after all.

In No Expectations, Miya has a ton of fun.

Now don’t get me wrong; I know Miya had fun writing Asylum; I was there for a lot of it, and watched it happen.

But here’s the thing; Miya isn’t just an author I work with. She’s a dear friend of mine, and has been for more than a decade. We met on MySpace and are friends on Facebook, and we’ve played virtual tabletop games and exchanged holiday presents. I’ve never met Miya in person but I know her voice and have heard her laugh.

And that’s what No Expectations is like.

It’s wonderful and funny and entertaining.

It’s also crazy hot and steamy.

Miya sent me a finished draft back in probably October now. I’ll be honest — from August of 2015 through the end of 2016, I was about useless for everything that wasn’t my day job, and even there I feel like I had performed it better in previous years. My wife read it straightaway, so that she could start editing it. There were a couple setbacks there — file losses and transfer weirdness.

And me? Like I said, useless.

But when I was able to start getting back to things, No Expectations was fun. That’s what I was struck by. It’s Miya at her best, great writing and amazing prose and all, but it’s also so much fun. I found myself grinning, laughing. I found myself adoring Julie and aspiring to identify with Reed.

Those names make no sense to you yet, but stay tuned. They’re going to.



This may be the tenth anniversary of Exciting Press, but I also want to acknowledge that for several months there Exciting Press barely existed at all.

The books haven’t been unavailable. I’d consider Meets Girl the first real Exciting Press book, published in November 2010, and while titles have rolled in and out of availability, that’s been mostly because of experimentation in strategy more than anything else.

But last year . . .

Actually, in the past few years .  . .

On Friday night, I took my wife to a local event the theme of which was attending a prom (and it’s been a solid twenty years since I’ve done anything like that). It’s an annual event, though, and while we were there we considered the previous time we had attended — which I remember very little of except that we left almost immediately after we gained admittance.

While we were filtering in, I got word that my mother was ill. This might have been in 2013 as easily as it might have been in 2014, but I think it was the former. Just a few months after my parents — healthy and happy — had attended my wedding, here in Pittsburgh.

My wife and I left the party, piled into our Hyundai, and powered by Monster energy drinks and not much else drove across the state to New Jersey.

My mom survived that incident. We got to her room in the urgent care unit, and we stuck there for a day or three, and in the end her levels stabilized and she was able to leave.

But in the end . . .

In the end, she passed away in August 2015, and my father passed in May 2016.

It’s been a rough few years for me, which means it’s been a rough few years for Exciting Press. That’s what happens when you’re a nano-press, when you’re working with authors who are more friends than clients, most days.

I’ve been dealing with a lot of loss and a lot of grief, and 2016 was just awful.

So far, I confess I’m not a huge fan of “Hold my beer” 2017 for several reasons, but at the same time, if I can help to be something positive when it seems like positive is critical . . .