Veteran political editor Adam Bellow loves seeing how many conservative authors are going the self-publishing route, relying on talent and moxie to make an end run around progressive publishers.
Below, son of famed author Saul Bellow, worries those pugnacious writers don’t have a large enough megaphone to let their voices be heard.
He hopes they do now.
Bellow is the CEO of the new literary destination Liberty Island, a beacon for conservative writers seeking an extra boost of attention. The site features stories “infused with a political point of view,” Bellow says, touching on themes like nanny state nightmares to cultural hypocrites. The works range from lighthearted to serious, satirical to grim.
“It’s a place where all this content, self-published content, can be aggregated,” says Bellow, who also serves as editorial director of Broadside Books at HarperCollins. “The writers themselves can connect with one and other … they’re isolated culturally and geographically.”
He cites Andrew Breitbart’s influence, recalling how the late media pioneer would say conservatives had to produce their own culture. The good news in 2014 is that it’s spontaneously happening, Bellow says.
Bellow notes sites like Amazon.com allow writers to peddle their self-published works, but that doesn’t help conservative authors find their “natural audiences.” The result? Authors get disheartened and red state audiences potentially miss out on stories that reflect their world view.
For guidance, Bellow studied the romance novel model, a passionate niche brimming with fan sites where people can swap tips on undiscovered authors and post story reviews.
“That creates a market,” he says, adding word of mouth is often the best marketing for self-published content.
He says the time is right for Liberty Island for several pragmatic reasons. The number of iPads, Kindles and other portable reading devices is vibrant enough to support a flood of new eBook content. Plus, as more conservatives acknowledge the ties between pop culture and politics, the need for conservative story tellers is obvious.
The online publisher says Liberty Island hopes to mirror the literary support system his father enjoyed early in his career. Saul Bellow traveled from Chicago to Greenwich Village as a younger writer to be around like-minded souls, painters and poets alike, who could nourish his talents.
“Those people were very important in helping him define his identity as a writer. Those were his first readers,” he says. Liberty Island is an online version of those stomping grounds.
“No one can afford Greenwich Village [now]. That’s where the web comes in,” he says.
As a nonfiction editor, Bellow often felt a tug of envy watching his fiction editor peers “flush with excitement” over reading a grand new story from an unknown writer.
Liberty Island is giving him that chance.
“We’re discovering people who are talented and virtually unknown. That’s exciting,” he says. “We’re not asking Ann Coulter to write a short story.”
Bellow says his site already has drawn the attention of some liberals who are eager to mock the new effort. He couldn’t be happier to see it.
“Their attitude reminds me very much of the reaction of liberal journalists back in the 80s and 90s, when conservative cable and talk radio first started up,” he says.
The site currently boasts between 50-60 registered writers, but he predicts Liberty Island will have up to 300 writers before long.
“It’s people who are just becoming aware that they’re part of a cultural movement,” he says, adding some of the stories published at the site have mainstream commercial promise.
“Good stories are good stories. People want to be entertained,” he says. “Just because pop culture is laced with liberalism doesn’t mean that’s what people want. It’s just what’s being given to them.”