Receiving the Specialty Press Award

Grand Rapids, MI • May 11, 2019

At StokerCon in Grand Rapids the HWA recognized Raw Dog Screaming Press with the Specialty Press of the Year Award. We had known for several months that we would be receiving this award, which has been both humbling and exciting and were looking forward to accepting it.

Watch the speech (transcript below)

However, I didn’t think actually receiving the award would change anything. But I was wrong. As the weekend went on there was a growing sense of respect for our press and with it, I felt a growing responsibility. After giving our acceptance speech there was a palpable feeling of good will towards our work. In publishing there is a sense that you are laboring in obscurity but it became clear that people are watching and will be watching to see what we do next.

We also began to see that we would have to make some hard choices. There is nothing that kills a press quicker than taking on too many projects. So we are going to have to be very careful when choosing our next projects not to take on too much. At the same time, we hope that we will be an example in the small press of a company that respects authors and does right by them. We want to continue to be part of a community that encourages creativity and welcomes everyone. We would like for every writer, editor and press—from those just starting out to those with decades of experience—to feel supported and included. When you gain a platform, no matter the reason, you have a choice as to how to use it and shouldn’t hesitate to use it to lift others up whenever possible. This is what we hope to do with our future releases.

Speech Transcript

Jennifer Barnes: Running a press is not easy and it’s not exactly lucrative so why do it?

I ask myself this all the time and the answer is always the same. You do it for the books, you do it for the authors and you do it for the stories that need to be told. 

If you do your job well as a publisher people will not be talking about you or your company but will be talking about your books and your authors so there’s not necessarily a lot of recognition either. 

But we feel very lucky right now because the HWA is one of the few organizations that actually recognizes publishers with an award. 

So we wanted to be sure to thank the HWA for this honor. And of course we have to thank all the superb authors we’ve been lucky to work with over the years, the reviewers and readers who have rabidly supported us and the many people who have volunteered their time helping us read and edit. 

Particular thanks go to cover artists Steven Archer, Daniele Serra and Bradley Sharp, as well as poetry editor Stephanie Wytovich and publicist Erin Sweet-Al Mehairi. 

I wish I could thank everyone by name who has contributed to keeping this press going. Just know that if you’ve bought one of our books or recommended one to a friend, shared a post, liked a review or left a kind comment it all helps and is much appreciated. Now I’ll turn it over to John for a few words.

John Edward Lawson: In June of 2003 Jennifer and I decided to go all in and launch our own publishing company after years of running a magazine. A lot has changed since then, but one thing has not changed: the publishing landscape is always evolving, and we are continuously blown away by the tireless efforts of publishers everywhere who get involved in the scene and help bring to life the work of all these great authors here tonight. The question we have been fielding from everyone else, and the one we have been asking ourselves, is: what’s next? Now that we have been bestowed with this honor, and entrusted with being part of and maintaining this lineage of publishing excellence, we will strive to not only preserve our current standards and level of output, but take things up to the next level, so watch for further announcements. Until then we are, once again, indebted to the Horror Writers Association, and everyone who believed in us over the years. Thank you!