Help River Boat Books Win the War Against Amazon

Watch this video trailer of the book The Conjure Man , a book we published in 2010 and which was named to the unofficial long list for the 2010 National Book Award. The trailer was produced by a Hollywood production company that at the time was interested in making a movie from the book. Alas, the funding fell through and the movie didn't happen; but the interest of Hollywood told us that we were doing what great publishers were supposed to do - publish great stories people can relate to!

In 2016, after twenty years developing a very small press, after publishing one book that was a 1997 Minnesota Book Award Finalist and another that was named to the unofficial long list for the 2010 National Book Award, Peter Damian Bellis decided he needed to expand River Boat Books if he wanted to truly leave a mark on American publishing.  Publishing a few great books was simply not enough.

So he put together an impressive list of books slated for release in 2018, and, in the case of Roberto Arlt's Flamethrowers, a literally historic publication (Check out the Roberto Arlt page at River Boat Books ). What the press learned last year was what most literary people already know: there is less room at the top, and that, that lack of space is what is trickling down. There is less room everywhere.

We also learned, however, something much more exhilarating: literature has not disappeared, writers have not disappeared, readers have not disappeared. All that stands in the way of a vibrant literary world is a financial structure that would degrade the literary landscape.

The most obvious barrier is Amazon (Click here to Read our Anti-Amazon Statement ).

The most obvious salvation is independence.

River Boat Books has decided to throw all of its resources into an attempt to generate more literature by refusing to do business with Amazon and by working to create a network of independent book stores, small presses, and free minds. The publishing landscape in the US has significantly changed the last twenty years in favor of profits over quality. And if great books are published, they often go unnoticed. Last year River Boat Books published Skulls of Istria and The Mad Patagonian, books that were of national award quality according to independent critics, yet only The Mad Patagonian was able to attract a single national review, and that was a review in Rain Taxi Review of Books, (Click here to Read the Review ) which though it is national in scope and distribution, is not The New York Times in terms of reach. No library purchased Roberto Arlt's previously untranslated masterpiece The Flamethrowers.
(Click to see the complete listing of these books in Our Catalog .)

This year, as befits a publishing season that begins with the large and ambitious The Manifold Destiny of Eddie Vegas, by Rick Harsch (we believe this is already one of the best novels published in the US this century), River Boat Books is doubling down.


We will also introduce the next generation of writers . . .

We are publishing novels by unknown authors from around the world. Would you believe a novel called Cynicism Management, by a rock and roll musician from Slovenia living on Tenerife and writing in English?  Just as significant is Brown Man in White Light, a novel by Deben Roy, that may be the definitive literary study of the human effect of migration).  We are also offering an interactive page for our readers so they can share their own immigrant romance stories.  Click here if you want to share your own story .

. . . and then there is George Salis, an American writer who has taught English literature and writing in Bulgaria, China, and Poland, whose novel Sun Above, Sea Below takes the myths we live by, that we were nurtured on, and turns them upside down . . .
. . . and finally Erik Martiny, an Irish writer living in Paris, whose novel Night of the Long Goodbyes will remind you of both Beckett and Orwell . . . And with Erik's book we need your help in choosing a cover. We were so captivated by his book that we created three covers. 
      If you want to vote for the cover you like best, Click on VOTE! 

Suffice to say, we have yet to mention the works to come from Peter Damian Bellis (Gods Among Gazelles, with an introduction (CLICK here to read this introduction ) by Ukamaka Olisakwe, an African writer chosen in 2014 as one of 39 of Sub-Saharan Africa's most promising writers under the age of 40) and the first sports book published by River Boat Books, Rick Harsch's Walk Like a Duck, a Season of Little League Baseball in Italy.
39258800_1561503527681509_r.jpegALWAYS AN EYE ON THE FUTURE
And of course are plans do not stop with this year. We always have our eye on the future. In 2020 we are planning to publish a unique collaborative project, a thousand plus page novel called The Assassination of Olof Palme (Click here to read what this book is about ), conceived by Rick Harsch, the first truly anthological novel, for contributing authors—not separately, but within the narrative—will number at least 50 authors, from such independent press luminaries as Sesshu Foster, to the wildly successful author of adolescent literature Trenton Lee Stewart, to, well, Davorin Sever, the guy who makes his own guitars and mandolins in Izola, Slovenia, and John Sime the undertaker of Viroqua, Wisconsin, creator of Cy Butt.
We are asking you to donate to River Boat Books to help us take the work we have begun to the next level in terms of creating a national platform so we can get our books into the hands of many more appreciative readers. This will take a decent amount of money so we can create a better infrastructure. But it also requires the right kind of thinking. All of us associated with River Boat Books are prepared to put heart and soul into the press, publicizing our books in every possible way we can think of. From now on we work for Arlt, Harsch, Martiny, Salis, Zabala, and a few others, but also for Riley and Lindstrom (two translators nonpareil) , and more so for the future of independent publishing. From now on we are at war with Amazon, a war that can only be won by tireless efforts to sell books in other ways. 

To help us do this work, we are asking for donations ranging in size from $10 to $500 (and there is of course a donation perk to go along with every size of donation - we'll explain that below).

Your donations will be used to offset costs in one of five categories. You can even designate which category you want your donation to go to.

Manufacturing Books
Pre-production and design costs – $500
Initial Printing costs- $1,500
TOTAL: $2,000 (10% of our goal)

Creating Distribution Channels for Books (outside of Amazon)
Bella Distribution (marketing and wholesale fees) - $500
Bowker (ISBNs, catalog information for each title) - $500
Distributing River Boat Books Catalog - $500
Creating a viable network of Independent Bookstores- $2,500
Total: $4,000 (20% of our goal)

Paying Our Writers
(We pay our writers 50% of the net profit from the sale of books, but we would like to be able to give them better advances)
Advances - $3,000
Total: $3,000 (15% of our goal)

Book Promotion
Promoting Books at Book Festivals- $2,000
Entering contests (Pulitzer, National Book Award, Aspen, etc.) - $1,000
Securing reviews (there is the cost of sending out books to reviewers, but there is also, for example, the fee for each Kirkus Review, which is currently $575 for a full review)- $5,000
Total: $8,000 (40% of our goal)

Fundraising Campaign Perks
Everything from specialty coffee mugs to books to an audio version of Skulls of Istria (we have to pay the actors and the technical people to produce this one) to tickets to see a theatrical production of Skulls of Istria  (scheduled for the fall of 2021) - $3,000
Total: $3,000 (15% of our goal)
And now for the perks.

Everyone who makes a $10 donation will receive an ePub edition of the book of their choice.

Everyone who makes a $20 donation will receive an ePub edition of two books of their choice.

Deck Passenger
Everyone who makes a donation of $30 will receive one River Boat Books coffee mug featuring a photo and quote from Ranier Maria Rilke to remind us why we read.

Stateroom Passenger
Everyone who makes a donation of $60 will receive an exclusive audio book edition of Skulls of Istria created under the direction of critically acclaimed theatre director Rachael B. Allcock, founding member of the Aequitas Theatre group, London, UK.

Steamboat Pilot
Everyone who makes a donation of $120 will receive three books from our back list (publisher’s choice).

Steamboat Captain
Everyone  who makes a donation of $360 will receive all seven books that will be published in 2019.

Steamboat Owner
Everyone who makes a donation of $500 will receive 4 tickets to the world theatrical premier of Skulls of Istria to be directed by critically acclaimed Theatre Director Rachael B. Allcock, founding member of Aequitas Theatre group, London, UK. Performance venue and dates TBA. STEAMBOAT OWNERS will also receive a backstage tour of the production and will lunch with the cast and crew on the opening day of the show.

Let me take this opportunity to thank you now for reading through our gofundme page and taking the time to reflect on what we're trying to accomplish. And if I am not being too bold, let me thank you in advance for your support of great literature and small presses!

Peter Damian Bellis
Publisher, River Boat Books

P.S. I invite you to explore our website at Please read through the profiles of the members of our Advisory Board  and those of Our Writers .

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Peter Damian Bellis 
Scranton, PA
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