Thursday, May 31, 2007

Back ALley Books Returns - On the Web!

Here's a special message from Richard Helms of Back Alley Books, writer and publisher of fine PI novels:

For the last seven years, I've operated Back Alley Books as a print operation. Over the last year, the company has run into some financial difficulties because of excessive returns after our title Cordite Wine was nominated for the Shamus Award last year, and we have been forced to reconsider our business model.

After a lot of thought and consideration, Elaine and I have decided to go digital. Back Alley Books is becoming Back Alley Press, and we are going to publish a quarterly webzine entitled (no surprise here) The Back Alley.

Our goal is to present five short stories in each issue, along with a
historical/analytical/commentary piece, responses from readers, and a classic
(public domain) short story from the period before 1924.

I would like to invite any and all Hard-Boiled members to participate in this new venture. It is a paying gig, but not much. We will pay $15-$20 story, and our intent is to submit all of our stories for the Edgar and Derringer, and for the Shamus Awards if they feature a private eye.

The guidelines are pretty simple. Hardboiled and noir, PI's welcome, up to 10,000 words. We'll definitely consider longer, up to novella length (22k or less), but we'd like to keep it under 10k. We allow graphic violence, language, and all sorts of political incorrectness. Sex is fine, as long as it moves the plot along and is well-written. Nothing set more than ten years in the future, or more than a hundred years in the past. You get bonus points for including technology that clearly sets the story in the 21st century, while maintaining the classic PI ethos.

As for brass tacks, as I said, we're paying $15-$20Â a story at this time
- first periodical rights only, with the story being archived, but you get the
right to submit the story for reprint rights elsewhere six months after
publication. The site is largely designed and ready to upload, and we intend to
publish the first issue by the end of summer. We will offer a contract to selected stories, and pay on acceptance.

I really hope some of my fellow Hard-Boiled members will be interested in being a part of this new publication. With so many of the PI/hardboiled/noir webzines shutting down or closing to submissions, I hope to be able to populate a couple of issues relatively quickly this year - at least in time to do some submissions to the major awards. If you have a story lying around that you haven't sold, or even if it needs a little polishing, please send it along. The nice thing about this venture is that we can toss the whole thing up onto the web in an hour or less, and it will be
immediately available for everyone to read, so we don't need a lot of lead time compared with print magazines.

All submissions can be sent as email attachments. Don't worry too much about formatting, but you would make my job easier by saving your story as an .rtf document. Just attach it to a nice email query telling me who you are, and send it to

I look forward to reading any and all submissions.

Take care-

Richard Helms
Three-Time Shamus Award Nominee

1 comment:

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