Third Parties and How to Build Them, or, Joshua Harris for Mayor of Baltimore

I’m not sure if you’ve been paying attention, but we’ve got a couple candidates running for President who seem to irritate even their own parties.  This has led to another rash of third-party candidates poking their heads up like mushrooms from bullshit.  On the left, we have Jill Stein, who is almost on the ballot in half the states.  On the right, Gary Johnson has impressively managed to get on the ballot in 36 states.

And Dan Savage has said it better than I ever could.  You do not build a party by running a candidate for president once every four years.  You run people for smaller, more local offices.  It’s not a movement if you only ever see them on presidential rates.  Grass-roots means bottom-up, folks; if you’re going to build a Green Party, you have to start at the bottom.  You have to start with local campaigns.

I’ve got a lot of friends who keep talking about how the two-party system is bullshit.  And you know what?  They’re not wrong.  I’d love to see more parties.  I’d love to see someone have to build a coalition government in Congress.  I’d love to have a choice amongst more viable candidates for President.  But that’s not going to happen at the presidential level first.  It’s just not.  Jill Stein and Gary Johnson aren’t going to be President.  And we all know they’re not, but people keep talking about voting for them anyways, as though that vote will have meaning.  As though Washington will sit up and take notice of a third party if they get a fraction of the votes regardless of their loss.

And it won’t.  Washington didn’t sit up and take notice of Perot, and it didn’t sit up and take notice of Nader.  It ignored them both, because Washington doesn’t care about losers.  It cares only about winners.  You want a viable third party?  Win some elections.  It’s the only way to be viable.  And that means you don’t start with President.

Now, here’s the thing:  I have put my money where my mouth is, on this one.  I’m not supporting or voting for Jill Stein, because that’s a waste of a vote.  Mathematically, it is the same as not voting.  Sorry to all you protest voters, but nobody else cares about your third party candidate.

But I would like to see a viable third party at some point.

So I’ve donated to a Green Party Candidate.  Not Jill Stein, no.  I found the Green running in the most local election I could, and I made a donation to him.  Specifically, I made a donation to Harris for Baltimore.  Is he viable?  Not at the moment, but if enough of you Bernie-or-Busters sent some cash his way, he probably would be.  There’s not enough money flowing in the Baltimore mayoral race to hold back the tide.

That would be a crack.  It wouldn’t be a bring-down-the-house revolution, but it would be a crack in the dam.  It would be the first, solid step a third party took towards becoming a viable party in this country.

As I recently pointed out, change in this country comes slowly if at all.  We debated slavery when writing the Declaration of Independence; we didn’t end it until four score and nine years later.  The Seneca Falls Convention was in 1948; 72 years later, women got the right to vote.  The Human Rights Council?  1924.  Gay marriage nationwide?  2012.  Change happens slowly, but it starts with little steps.

So, here’s my challenge to you, Bernie-or-Busters.  I know I’m not going to convince you to step down your doomed support for Jill Stein.  But if you really, truly want to see the Green Party become an honest-to-God 3rd party, then I want you to also support Josh Harris in his run for Mayor of Baltimore.  Throw some money to his campaign.  Blog and do stories about him.  Because you’re going to have a much bigger impact on that race than you will on the Presidential one, and that’s what can start this ball rolling.  You want a third party?  Start here.  But if you support Jill, and you don’t support Josh, then I know you’re full of it.

Harris for Baltimore, 2016.

Our Experience with Sky Warrior Books

You may have noticed that the publisher of our novels, and many of the anthologies in which we appear, is a single publisher:

 

 

 

Now, that’s beginning to not be the case.  We’ve got some stuff with Knotted Road press, and a story coming out with WordFire, but the vast majority of what we’ve published to date is with Sky Warrior.

I’m not going to comment directly on the situation outlined by the anonymous complaints over on Writer Beware.  I don’t know anything about that situation, I don’t know the details, and I’m not here to speak on whatever happened there.

But after reading that post, I feel like I need to talk about my experience with Sky Warrior has been.

Let me start with this:  Sky Warrior Books is a name, but the person behind it is one Maggie Bonham.  Her and her husband wrangle a stable of authors together from their home in the backwoods of Montana.  It is a small press.  It does not have a marketing budget.  Occasionally, the royalty payments come slowly, but they do always come.  Granted, this is a small press, so our royalty payment isn’t the sort of thing to make us quit our day jobs, but they still come, and they are what we should be getting.

So is it perfect?  Nope.

But here’s the thing:  We would be nothing without Maggie Bonham.

If Maggie Bonham hadn’t noticed us lurking about at a Spocon and convinced us to submit a short story to a zombie anthology, we don’t become professional authors at all.  She took us from nothing–nothing— and made us what we are.  Our marketing abilities?  Maggie.  The quality of the product we release?  Well…Sue Bolich did that, but we only got Sue as an editor because of Maggie.  The fact that we can simply knock and a convention puts us on the pro schedule?  Maggie.

We simply do not exist if Maggie Bonham doesn’t run Sky Warrior Books.

She has been nothing but up-front with us about everything we have going on.  If there’s a problem with the royalties, we are told what the problem is and when it will be fixed by.  If there’s a problem with a book, we are told what the problem is and what needs to be done to fix it.  And if we need something from her, she is there.

No.  The royalties don’t come quickly.  They just don’t.  But as neither of us need that fifty bucks right now in order to eat, that’s secondary from our perspective.  And Maggie has never been anything but up-front with everyone about her payment schedule.  She informs everyone at the get-go that marketing is the author’s responsibility.  We knew exactly what we were getting into when we signed on with Sky Warrior, and it has worked as expected since.

I have never known Maggie Bonham to act dishonestly with me in any of the five years she has been my publisher.

So, again; this article isn’t here to take sides in any ongoing drama.  That drama’s got nothing to do with me.  And there are some things that should make you consider whether Sky Warrior is going to be a good fit.  If you are the kind of person that needs your royalties right now or you will starve, then this isn’t the right place.

For us, it was.  What we were looking for was someone to help us learn the ropes of the business and provide us a platform through which we could build a fan base.  And Maggie did exactly that.  Now we have fans, and we have other publishers asking after us.  We’re getting to be a hot commodity.  From our perspective, that’s more important than having our royalties every month.

I have nothing but love for Maggie Bonham, and she has treated Esther and I with nothing but respect and courtesy.  So there’s my two cents on Sky Warrior Books as a publisher.