How do you measure a year?
Sometimes it feels like the song from Rent, Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, and every one of them goes by at an excruciatingly slow pace.
Or, as in 2019, suddenly you realize that 525,600 minutes of life and work and growth have passed by in a blink! WMG has launched multiple big, new projects; published new novels in multiple series; released four volumes of our Fiction River anthology magazine and three of Fiction River Presents; published four issues and three books for Pulphouse Fiction Magazine; run four exciting, even groundbreaking, Kickstarter projects; held the annual Master Class, Anthology Workshop, and several writing workshops all now in Las Vegas; and introduced exciting new online workshops, lectures, and mentorships.
And all that even though our intrepid publisher had a hell of a year and was on reduced (and for a couple of months, no capacity) for almost three-quarters of the year.
So, as 2019 draws to a close, lets take a look back on what, despite the challenges, turned out to be a very productive year.
The Renegat is number eight in the series, a magnum opus, and we wanted to do something unique (for us) to the mark the occasion. We ran a Kickstarter campaign in June to get the new novel into the hands of superfans before the official launch date, and to raise the funds to publish the entire Diving series, eight novels and three novellas, as an elegant set of eleven hardback volumes. Creating this set was no small feat. Publisher Allyson Longueira, while recovering from (successful) brain surgery (yeah, at WMG we dont even do health crises by halves), produced these beautiful books.
Ruschs Diving Universe series is simply one of the coolest spacefaring and spaceship milieux I have read. Blackgate.com
Meanwhile, in another part of the universe, and just in time for the holidays, fans of Dean Wesley Smiths Cold Poker Gang series got what theyve been waiting for. Deans new novel, Heads Up: A Cold Poker Gang Mystery, hit the shelves and the online stores. This series continues to be one of WMGs most popular.
In the new mystery, a couple of new recruits, that is to say newly retired Las Vegas detectives, take on a cold missing-person case that is somehow connected to the abandoned old Hotel Nevada. Some clever detecting and a bit of romance make this a perfect holiday read.
Looking back, you could say love was a major theme for 2019.
To the delight of the many Grayson fans, there were also two new Grayson novels this year: a new Charming novel, Hidden Charm; and just in time for the holidays, Tidings of Comfort and Joy, the latest in the Santa Series.
The theme heated up with Fiction River Special Edition: Summer Sizzles, in which Kristine Grayson invited readers to indulge in a feast of romantic suspense, capped by a gothic romance novella.
Buy what season of love is complete without spies, cloaks and daggers, and secret missions? Award-winning editor Kristine Kathryn Rusch used her magic touch to put together Fiction River Special Edition: Spies.
Finally, Mark Leslie returned with Fiction River: Superstitious to set us up for a spooky Halloween.
Also in the spring and summer came three new Fiction River Presents volumes, Fiction Rivers line of reprint anthologies by series editor Allyson Longueira. These volumes reprinted some of our favorite science fiction and steampunk stories from previous years.
Pulphouse Fiction Magazine rounded out its second year with its Fall 2019 issue, which was just released in December. In addition to four regular issues, we published three books of stories from the magazine: You Really Liked That?, No Way, and Snot-nosed Aliens.
Its been a banner year for Pulphouse!
WMG had books in ten Storybundles in 2019, eight of which either Kris or Dean curated. Fantasy Detectives, Saving the World, Space Travelers and, Historical Mystery are just a few of the themes from this year. The bundles are a great way for readers to be introduced to new writers in their favorite genres and to get the books they might have missed from their favorite writers.
In 2019, Dean launched into a Kickstarter campaign with his Make 100 challenge. For that challenge he is publishing one hundred paperback books. Yes, that number is one hundred, aka 100, one with two zeros, a century, five score. A new paperback book every 3.65 days. Watch for these come to fruition in early 2020.
Speaking of challenges, 2019 was not our first challenging health year, and there is something very human about facing those challenges head on and moving on to better days. Kris wrote a book about doing exactly that called Writing with Chronic Illness: Improve Outlook and Productivity, that WMG published in April 2019. In it Kris relates how she herself has dealt with chronic illness and still managed to stay productive, creative, and looking forward!
To cap off the year publishing-wise, WMG launched a revolutionary new project. A long-time dream of Kriss, we are offering a Holiday Calendar of Stories, thirty-five original stories in all, in three genres. Heres the description:
Every day, starting on November 28, 2019, and running through January 1, 2020, subscribers get an original short story sent to them (or the recipient of their choice) via email.
Each story is accompanied by an introduction in which award-winning editor Kristine Kathryn Rusch tells you which kind of story you have, be it a Joyous Christmas story or a darker Bloody Christmas mystery or a Winter Holiday tale.
Subscribers get each story in ebook format (epub and mobi), so they can read them daily on their own devices anywhere, anytime. Or they can store them up and binge on a weekend.
We have big plans for future projects like this one, so stay tuned!
We had a bumper crop of wonderful stories for Fiction River, Pulphouse, and The WMG Holiday Spectacular 2019 in this years Anthology Workshop. Writers are already hard at work writing for the upcoming workshop in February 2020.
The Business Master Class was a huge success this year in Las Vegas, where we had a record number of attendees. Industry experts covered a wide range of topics, including book production and distribution, writing productivity, audiobooks, overseas sales, contracts, bundles, licensing, and much more.
The 2020 Master Class will be the last in this format (it is already fully booked, but you can be added to the waiting list by clicking here), so keep your eyes and ears open as we announce new directions in 2020.
Kris taught four in-person craft workshops in 2019. These were intensive five-day workshops on writing mystery, romance, series, and memorable characters. The topics change from year to year, and science fiction, fantasy, and short story writing are coming in 2020. For information on these 2020 workshops, click here.
In addition to the in-person Vegas workshops, WMG also offers a plethora of online workshops and lectures through Teachable. Dean creates new online workshops every year and comes up with new ideas for the Pop-Up Series that pop into his super-creative brain whenever he thinks it will be fun. This year was no exception. And looking forward, workshops will offer insight into how to plan the decade ahead, writing in shared worlds, as well as the long list of classic workshops that are always in demand.
Plus, WMG launched three new challenges this year: The Short Story Challenge, The Novel Challenge, and just last week, The Great Publishing Challenge. Writers have seen great success in the earlier challenges already. For example, more than a dozen writers in the short story challenge completed more than 26 stories in a row, so they each received $900 in workshop credit. Plus, they each have more than 26 new stories to market! How awesome is that?
And if you are busy making your New Year Resolutions, The Great Publishing Challenge and The Decade Ahead yearlong class that will focus on finding a balance between life, publishing, and writing are excellent places to start!
So, off we go into 2020. Its going to be exciting. We cant wait!
Gwyneth Gibby is associate publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, former Hollywood director, and an expert in narrative storytelling.