Interview with “Big Pulp” publisher Bill Olver

Posted: June 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

Remember my review of “Clones, Fairies & Monsters in the Closet,” the anthology of LGBT-themed genre fiction? If not, read it here. Then read the book itself. It’s really good. But “Big Pulp” publishes a lot more in the way of quality fiction. Solely in terms of title and concept, I guess my favorite Big Pulp book has to be “Apeshit,” a collection of ape-themed stories. Anyway, you can fine out more about Big Pulp here. And Big Pulp’s publisher, Bill Olver, generously agree to an interview with Chamber of the Bizarre. So here goes:


What is Big Pulp, and what are your publications?

Big Pulp is a brand covering a line of publications featuring science fiction, fantasy, mystery, horror, and romance fiction and poems. I started with an online-only version of Big Pulp magazine in 2008 and published the first print edition in December 2010. Since then I’ve branched out into themed anthologies—including Clones, Fairies & Monsters in the Closet; APESHIT; and The Kennedy Curse.


When, how and why did you start it?

I started working on the website in 2007 and officially published our first story on March 3, 2008. I started Big Pulp for a variety of reasons. Foremost, I wanted to publish the kind of magazine that I wanted to find at the bookstore, but couldn’t. Also, I wanted a creative outlet and a way to meet other writers, artists, and book lovers. I had worked with other small press owners over the years and self-published before, so I had some background with small DIY publishing. I’m a writer, too, but I also enjoy being on the opposite side of the equation. I like watching a project come together.

It was a lot of work, but not very complicated. I wanted to do it, so I did. I had set aside a small fund to pay writers and artists for allowing me to publish their work online and to pay for webhosting. Once I was happy with the first version of the website, I started soliciting and reading submissions.


How do you go about marketing Big Pulp publications?

I engage on social media through Facebook and Twitter, and have a mailing list that I’ve compiled over the last few years. I attend as many book fairs and fan conventions as I can during the year, which are a significant portion of my annual sales. And of course, I’ve published hundreds of writers over the past 6 years, who help spread the word to their networks of friends and fans.


As an editor, what qualities do you look for in submissions?

I like stories that get to the point. I read a lot of submissions that take three pages to set up their story, so I appreciate writers who have made the effort to cut extraneous details and scenes from their work. I also like work with a strong point of view. Not just a strong narrator, but an opinion or an idea that the writer wants to express. I’m not interested in “good guy kills bad guy” stories. Give me something to think about.

Of course, the basics are important – avoiding clichés and trite situations, choosing precise descriptive language, and writing dialogue that sounds like something someone would actually say.

The Big Pulp “flavor” tends to be on the dark side – abrasive narrators, black humor, bad choices, melancholy results. Not all of our stories are of that type, of course, but my editorial tastes veer in that direction.


How did “Clones, Fairies and Monsters in the Closet” come about, and what was your intent in publishing it?

I didn’t have any special intent, other than I thought it would be fun. While reading for Big Pulp magazine, I started getting a lot of LGBT-themed genre work without specifically soliciting it, and when I was considering adding anthologies to my line of publications, an LGBT-themed book was on my rather lengthy list of possible themes.

It was simply an area where my interests and the interests of my writers intersected at the right time. I had published a number of writers who already were working in the theme, so I was confident I would receive enough high quality submissions for a collection.


Do you feel that there’s still some discrimination against LGBT-themed literature in the field of genre fiction, or in publishing in general?

I’m sure there is, but I also know there are many welcoming outlets and options for writers in the field.


What sort of response has the anthology generated?

It’s been a consistent seller over the last year. The collection was also a recommended text for a gender studies class at Victoria University in Australia, which was a complete surprise and a real honor.


Are there any upcoming projects from Big Pulp that you’d like to mention?

This year, I’ve added three new periodicals to our slate of publications – Child of Words (SF&F); M (horror and mystery); and Thirst (romance).

In addition to those, my latest anthology is Black Chaos: Tales of the Zombie (June 1, 2014). This collection features 25 writers, many of them new to Big Pulp, all with a different take on the zombie theme.


What advice would you give an aspiring fiction writer?

Never stop learning – whether through reading, studying, or having others critique your work. Curiosity, an open mind, and willingness to learn will help you develop your craft and keep your work from stagnating once you’ve mastered it.

For those considering submitting their work to any publication, be sure to research your markets. I receive a lot of submissions from writers who obviously have no idea what I publish. Also, please properly format your manuscripts – Times, 12 pt, double-spaced is great. Don’t use a crazy font, don’t use the space bar to indent the first line of a paragraph and don’t hit return at the end of every line. Editors everywhere will thank you.

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