SNM: Greetings Dave, pleasure to have you here. There’s quite a history behind Preditors & Editors. Let’s start with how and when P&E came about. What fueled the fire and how did you form the directory?
Dave: P&E came about when I created a web page to answer questions from writers after I had accepted a chat moderation position on Prodigy. It didn't take me long to realize that almost every new writer had the same questions so it made sense to create a web page that I could refer writers to instead of typing in the same answers every time. About the same time the web page exceeded a printed page in length I gave it a name because I could see then that it would grow. The name came out of recognizing that writers wanted to know who to trust and who not to trust. What truly fueled the fire was an attempt by one non-recommended business to shut down P&E. The harder they tried, the more I saw a need to resist and the more important P&E was to writers. They needed a site that would stand up to bullies and zombies. So far, we've stood our ground and no writers have had their brains eaten.
SNM: How many on staff in total and what are their functions?
Dave: Right now, it's just me and some volunteers who email info to me. Last two months, there were just two of us.
SNM: What was your background prior to starting P&E?
Dave: Prior to P&E, I had worked as a programmer and had also had some limited success in getting short stories published in print and online and was just starting to see my first efforts succeed in getting my novels published.
SNM: So you also have a background in writing? Please share your published novels with our readers. Any how-to published works?
Dave: I had various non-fiction articles and a couple of poems in magazines along with a monthly bulletin for a Fortune 500 business I put together for over three years and some computer programs that were published in computer magazines back in the mid 1980s. But no “how-to” publish articles that I can recall. These are my novels to date as my short story publications are too numerous to mention:
Protector of Seaswams
Guardians of Riverswams
Touch of the Sea Witch
Shield of Truth
The Aliens Is Coming!
Beasts Are Us
Censored by Earth Command: Arrows and Lasers
Censored by Earth Command: Bullets and Lasers
Censored by Earth Command: Cavalry and Lasers
Karmic Warrior (Available for free on Scribd)
Redwing, Dragon Detective
Space Rescue One
Will Fight Evil For Food
SNM: Since your listing information is posted on the website under the “Freedom of Speech Act” and I’m just asking your opinion who are the top 3 Preditor Pariahs you’ve encountered?
Dave: There are no top three predators. We consider every scam to be equally reprehensible. For the record, we misspell predators as Preditors for trademark purposes.
SNM: How often do you update your listings and how long do you post dead markets for?
Dave: Except for a few instances such as when power was knocked out, P&E has been updated on a daily basis. That means we post new listings or updates every single day of the year and we've been doing that since 1997 when we took on our name. I believe P&E was actually in operation as early as 1995 or 1996. We keep dead listings because sometimes they come back to life when they acquire new funding or they come back when they realize playing dead doesn't work to get them out of being not recommended. Other resources don't always provide information about a market being dead so our listings help fill that gap.
SNM: If a bad press preys on writers and closes shop then operates again under a different name, how do you connect the threads?
Dave: We have many sources who provide P&E with various documentation. Some of them voluntarily help P&E keep track of the bad sites and their operators. Obviously, the bad sites don't like that especially since we keep all of the information on file so we can alert writers when a bad site has a long history of misbehavior.
SNM: P&E, Duotrope, Ralan are the 3 best known directories today. Who else was around when you started, directory wise?
Dave: There were other resource sites around but they were shut down by sites who opposed them or had a lack of funding. Writers' Island for instance was crushed by PublishAmerica.
SNM: With so many start-up presses, would you recommend publishers/magazines begin online before going print today?
Dave: If a publisher of books or magazines doesn't have the funds to do it right, then it makes no difference whether it starts operations in print or online. Without proper funding, it's unlikely to succeed. Also P&E doesn't reveal its criteria for being recommended.
We did so briefly only to have a scam attempt to weasel-word its way into being recommended. And we accept all sites onto our listings regardless of whether they're recommended or not. In fact, the majority are listed as acceptable though we prefer not to list a publisher until it has produced at least two books or issues. That's generally a good sign that it's a stable market.
SNM: Are the number of failed presses today increasing or decreasing?
Dave: This is difficult to state one way or another since P&E and I don't have any concrete numbers about how many are in business or have failed. In fact, too many hide the fact that they're failing until their actions cause harm to writers and themselves. My guess, however, is that the number of failures is probably more because too many individuals are desperate to be published and see that failure as reason enough to start up a publishing company.
SNM: What are some of the keys to success for magazines and publishers to have staying power in the industry?
Dave: Learn the business first. Hire knowledgeable individuals with the right skills for the tasks that need to be performed in order to succeed.
SNM: What are some trends you’ve noticed in the downfalls of magazines and publishers?
Dave: They lack funding, lack skilled personnel, don't know how to market and distribute their product, and read too little. Also, they're usually too much in a rush.
SNM: When did you start hosting the award polls and how many total votes were tallied from all categories this year?
Dave: The Readers Poll began in 1997. The last poll was our thirteenth. This year we received well over 19,000 votes.
SNM: Has ballot stuffing and duplicate emails become more of a problem in tallying the votes?
Dave: Actually, our programmer (not me) has managed to build a new program that weeds out most attempts to stuff the ballot. Beyond the programming, we do a manual review of all the votes to eliminate anything that might have gotten through. The good news is that our programmer's efforts have resulted in far fewer suspect votes getting through
SNM: Will there be future awards that reflect the “opinions of the editors” based on certain criteria, rather than popularity via voting?
Dave: It's something I've given thought to for the past few years. What's needed is a way to approach that so that the results are equitable and fair.
SNM: How long do you plan on continuing to host P&E?
Dave: I plan on operating P&E until I'm no longer able. I'm sure that's both good news for writers and bad news for those who don't like P&E.
SNM: What is your preferred genre of reading and what are your top 5 all-time favorite books?
Dave: I tend to like science fiction, humor and history. My top 5 favorites include several of my own. I think it's important for a writer to like his own work. If I can't like mine then I guess I shouldn’t be a writer. Anyway, in no particular order, I like Knight Spirits, Guardians of Riverswams, Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers, Keith Laumer's Bolo and Andre Norton's Galactic Derelict. There are many others I equally like but these I remember exceptionally well.
SNM: Do you have any plans on revamping the layout of the website in the future or listing information differently?
Dave: P&E has always undergone revamping when it became obvious that a change would be good for writers.
SNM: What other sources of income does P&E generate aside from public donations? How can writers, editors and publishers donate?
Dave: Except for legal expenses, P&E has not asked for nor received any funds from the public. At present P&E has only a donation button for legal expenses.
SNM: What is the best way for writers to access your directory?
Thank you, Dave, for taking the time to give us this behind the scenes glimpse into P&E. Many new writers see P&E listings as a writer's Holy Grail. I’ve been using the site and heeding to the recommendations since 1995. 15 years later, you're still around providing an invaluable service to all writers. Keep up the good work; the writing community needs you.
Writers: Be sure to check out this directory if you're submitting and see if any other authors have had any past difficulties or positive experiences with the said listed presses and magazines. It can save you lots of grief and money as it did for me. They have been in existence since 1995 and list the complaints and compliments that authors have made with certain publications.