This interview is with one of the leading western publishers of today. His name is J.C. Hulsey, and his publishing house “Outlaws Publishing” is currently having huge success with western authors from around the world. Names like Cliff Roberts, Dennis Gager, John D. Fie. Jr, Frank F. Fiore, Kenneth S. Pratt are household names to western readers.
In an industry filled with vanity publishing it is refreshing to see someone build a publishing business aimed at creating hit books.. Let’s pick his brains…
Oh, I almost forgot! You can connect with J.C. via Facebook here. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why do you think Outlaws Publishing has been so successful at gaining such a large Western readership?
I think we did many of the things other Western publishers have failed to do or are afraid to do. We managed to get the readership to take us seriously. We tried to speak directly to the people who enjoy reading Westerns, and we treated them as friends. The most important thing a publishing company can do is create a bond between the reader and the authors we publish. One of the other important factors is the fact that we have tried to pick authors who Western readers would really enjoy reading.
Outlaws Publishing is just one part of your empire, isn’t it? You have a successful radio show, a series of your own books, you attend book shows all year round. How do you manage to juggle all the different facets of your career?
First of all, I wouldn’t call what I have an empire. I would call it a franchise. An empire is something so vast it can’t be comprehended. We have a simple publishing house with some added extras here. That’s all. Remember Rubix cubes? Those strange little suckers where you had try and get all the same colors on all the right sides? Remember those? I’m sure you do. That’s a little like my career. I spend more time adding sides to my cube than I do balancing them because they balance themselves. Take the cube itself. It’s got a flat surface on each of its faces and can stand alone without support. I’ve built the facets of my career with very solid bases, and that allows me to juggle from one to the other without the fear of the whole thing falling down on me like a house of cards.
I’ve been asked that question quite a bit by many different people. I would say that there are two reasons for me moving into the Western sphere. One reason is because I love Westerns, and the second is because I, myself, wrote Westerns and I could never get a publisher to even look at my work. I believe there is a kind of racism when it comes to Westerns. Agents see them as something old fashioned that they can’t sell. Now, I hired a publicist, and he showed me that Westerns sell well. So it makes good business sense to work on Westerns, publish Westerns and it makes sense to take the time to cultivate Western authors. Why did the publicist want to work on a Western and the agent didn’t? That’s simple. The publicist is paid monthly to make something happen and knows what will sell better than anyone. An agent is living in the land of ‘maybe’ and ‘could-be.’ He will only go for things that he can sell on to a publisher easily, so he can collect the loot.
How do you pick authors to publish?
How does one pick an apple in an orchard? We look through our submissions and choose the authors who have stories that we feel our readers would enjoy; we look for writers who our readers can get behind. We look for hits, but we also look for class and style. There is no criteria that we adhere to, other than our desire to put great Westerns in front of a great audience.
How do you promote the books you publish?
I am a great believer in promotion, and I’ve promoted my whole life. When I owned a bookstore, I promoted it. When I published my own books, I promoted them, and I have always tried to use professionals where I can. At Outlaws, we believe strongly in a promotional campaign that will take our books and put them directly in front of our readers. That’s why we like to use grassroots promotion. We like to get the Western readership behind our books. We network, we attend book shows, we use social media, mailing lists, and I make a lot of phone calls.
I have always believed in doing everything to the highest possible standard. We hire the best publicist, the best cover designers, the best bloggers and the best narrators. I have never used anyone from the lower drawers in the dresser. Only the top drawer matters to J.C.
Are you always searching for new talent?
Always. You can never have too much of a good thing. We search for authors, we search for great publicists, great narrators, great bloggers. I, and my team, spend a lot of time building bridges and crossing them into new lands looking for new talent. It is my dream to have the biggest publishing company in the world, and I will have it.
We may have gained an incredible barrel of talent—and I’m extremely proud of what we have, and the people I work with. But there are always more people, and it is my wish that I will meet them and work with them. In fact, I want to say right here and now that if you have a talent for writing, promoting, narrating or designing covers—I want to meet with you because you and I are stronger together with Outlaws behind us.
Is the drive for money, or is it for success?
Both go hand in hand—but I care more for success than I do for money. If I wanted to make all the money in the world, I would have chosen a different path. Success, to me, is the only thing that matters. The ability to hold up my work and show it to the world. The ability for me to praise those I work with, and help them grow. For me, success comes from developing talent. If you truly love what you do and you grow what you have—money will come. But it’s not a priority for me.
How did you manage to get Cliff Roberts to sign with your company?
Cliff Roberts is an enigma. He’s a talent with the scope and ambition to go where things are happening. I was very happy when he decided to sign with Outlaws Publishing. But I’m happy when all my authors sign with Outlaws Publishing. Dennis Gager, John D. Fie, Kenneth S. Pratt, all of them. They are all talented, wonderful human beings, and I am very happy to be associated with all of them.
You mentioned narrators a couple of questions ago—does your company help authors with audiobooks?
We don’t just help! We do them for authors. We have our own narrators who work directly with authors to make their books into audiobooks. I am a huge fan of audiobooks, and I listen to them myself all of the time. I think it’s important that our authors have their books available on the market in audio format, and ask our publicist—the sales are extremely lucrative.
How does an author get in touch with you to submit their books to the company?
Let’s get cosy for a few moments here. I don’t want this to sound like the cold submission policy of the publishing houses authors are used to trying to work with. If you want to get in touch with me, personally, all you have to do is open up your email account, start a new message and send an email to email@example.com. That’s all. Send me whatever you want. I’ll be happy to hear from you. I have no requirements, I have no desire for you to pay a fee, and you are under no obligation to sign with me. Let’s be friends.