Entering its fourth year, Paul Goblirsch's Thunderstorm Books has already built up an impressive library of releases. Thunderstorm specializes in small runs (some as low as 140 copies – and some special editions that are even smaller print runs) written by some of the genre's biggest names with impeccable production values.
A look at the publisher's online gallery (which can be found on the Thunderstorm website) reveals an impressive lineup of authors, from established names like Ronald Kelly, Brian Keene and J.F. Gonzalez to rising stars like Nate Southard and Kelli Own. What's equally impressive is the variety of print lines and membership opportunities Thunderstorm provides, making them one of the most accessible small presses working the market today. The collector-targeted "Black Voltage" series features oversized, tricked-out hardcovers going for around $60 apiece, while the "Elementals" series is comprised of pocket-sized hardcover and softcover chapbooks with black-and-white (recently with a splash of color too) covers and more affordable prices. This is where Goblirsch is at his shrewdest – targeting a variety of price points and giving potential readers several entry points to try his books.
Two of Thunderstorm's most popular lines demonstrate the range of the publisher's offerings. The Maelstrom line is a high-end imprint produced in conjunction with author Brian Keene. Each "volume" of the Maelstrom line includes three separate limited edition hardcover books: a novel-length work by Keene, an original novella by Keene, and a third novel written by an author of Keene's choosing. On the other end of the spectrum is the Hard Rain line, which offers limited runs of original novels in signed hardcovers for $35. The first book of this line, Nate Southard's Lights Out, was released earlier this month, and announcements on upcoming titles are expected soon.
With digital publishing on the rise and the economy remaining stagnant, collectible books are an increasingly niche market these days. However, Thunderstorm Books seems to have hit upon a formula that will enable them to grow and thrive for years to come even in such a turbulent business and publishing environment. By offering a variety of work in a variety of formats, building not just one segment of the audience but offering a little something for everyone, and by doing so in a timely, high-quality manner, this small press has accomplished much in a short period of time. During this fertile time for horror fiction and the small press, Thunderstorm is quickly emerging as one of the heavyweights.
Blu Gilliand is a freelance writer of fiction and nonfiction. He covers horror fiction at his blog, October Country, and contributes interviews to the Horror World website. Follow him on Twitter at @BluGilliand.