Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Interview - Kyle MacRae of Blasted Heath

Kyle MacRae & Allan Guthrie
Since its launch in 2011 Scottish indie publisher Blasted Heath has built an intriguing, crime-based list which features feral teens, down at heel gamblers and a murderous barber. Founded by author and literary agent Allan Guthrie and serial entrepreneur Kyle MacRae it's developed a solid following with fans of the hard stuff and brought some exciting new talent to readers. Kyle joins me today for a bit of a chat...

What initially inspired you to get into publishing? 
Pity. When I first met the Best Selling Kindle Author, Ebook Entrepreneur & Renowned Literary Agent, Allan Guthrie, he took me by the hand and led me through the sad streets of publishing. Why, there was poor Douglas Lindsay, author of the 19th century Barney Thomson classics, curled up in a cocoon of bile and disillusionment while he psycho-morphed into Elvis Shackleton, a bit like Ziggy Stardust segueing to Aladdin Sane but with a Dylan soundtrack. Brennan was homeless on the bad streets of Belfast, broken by Buckfast and meth (-alayted spirits, not crystal). Nobody at all had heard of Gary Carson, not even his mum. They still haven’t. Ray Banks was on the run from sicko-noir groupies. Still is. Back then, Anthony Neil Smith was little more than a figment of his dog’s imagination, which is a pretty desperate state of affairs when you think about it. We brought the bastard to life.
How did Blasted Heath come into being?
Quickly. It’s well known in certain circle jerks that Allan Guthrie stalked me and threatened to slam my testicles in a drawer (cf Two-WaySplit) if I didn't jack in everything else and help him invent Cool Digital Publishing. So we cobbled together some contracts, a handful of Kindle files and a website. Blasted Heath was birthed on November 1st 2011.
Mike Scott wrote a song to celebrate our launch 

Drunk his soul dry, so we did.
Blasted Heath is two years old now - congratulations - what's been the highlight for you so far?
Survival. Given that 98 UK publishers went under in the last year that’s quite an achievement. Then again, we don’t spend anything so we couldn’t go bust if we tried. 
You've steered clear of the more conventional type of crime novel, was that a conscious decision, seeking out challenging, noirish work? 
Not at all. We wish the heathens would write really commercial best-selling TV-series-friendly movie-deal-pending blue-rinse-tastic mainstream crime fiction without all the sweariness, violence and transgression. I have no idea why they don’t.
Speaking to your authors I get the sense that there's a great relationship between them and you and Al, how have you found the experience of working with them?
You’ve spoken to our authors? Don’t believe a word those bitches say. Especially Banks. It’s a thoroughly unhealthy relationship based on co-dependency. We own their heathen asses and they resent it.
What role do you see indies playing over the next few years?
I guess indies will continue to publish really interesting books that the big boys won’t take a punt on, at least in print, which makes the Kindle Store the breeding and discovery ground for new talent. Then we’ll get abandoned by our authors once we've made them huge. Hurrah!

The big houses will probably move more towards a low-risk ‘co-publishing’ model a la to Italian publisher RSC Libri’s recent experiment.
But who needs the big boys anyway? Readers validate, and they don't give a fuck about publishers. 
Outside publishing you specialise in media training and digital marketing, so what tips would you give authors on developing their profile?  
There are no tips. Social media is bullshit for selling books other than books about how social media can help you sell books. Which it can't. The only contacts worth cultivating are those who’ll give you awesome reviews so shag them and ignore everything and everybody else.  
Tell us about the Blasted Bundles...
BlastedBundles are an even cheaper way for folk to buy our already cheap ebooks in bulk. They’re brilliant. We launched them a few weeks ago and we’ve sold one.'s coming up next from Blasted Heath?
I’m betting we can sell a second Blasted Bundle, but then I'm an optimist. Other than that, I guess we'll continue to try to figure out how to make money when free becomes the only viable price for digital content.

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