Input Needed – New Name For Marcher Lord Press

Take the survey to determine the new name for Marcher Lord Press.
on Apr 25, 2014 · 53 comments

marcher_lord_press_logo_to_2014I voted. Have you?

The vote I’m talking about is on the survey to determine the new name for Marcher Lord Press.

New name? Why?

Owner Steve Laube answers that question in his newsletter announcement:

The initials MLP are becoming widely known as meaning My-Little-Pony. There is even a documentary about Bronies…men who like MLPs.

Whenever I have said “Marcher Lord Press” to someone outside the writing industry and Christian Speculative Fiction community, they raise an eyebrow and say “What?” and make me repeat the name a couple times. And then I can tell they wonder what that means.This, in effect, is weak branding. Within our communities we understand because Jeff Gerke did a great job selling the value of the imprint. But beyond our core, there is little recognition.

That being said, Steve wants input from Christian speculative writers and readers about the new name.

Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting from the suggested options:

Many factors go into a name change: a) The “radio test” – will it be something that can be heard and remembered correctly? b) Availability. Many great ideas for the name cannot be used because they have already been taken by another company. c) Does it reflect the type of books published within the Speculative Fiction genre?

So have you voted? If not, you can take the thirty-second survey right now if you’d like: Help Pick The New Name.

I’m excited about what this means for the primer house producing Christian speculative fiction. Covers for the fall line of books are being finalized, the house will be approaching key retail accounts with the new titles, a website makeover is in the works. Good things happening, but they all need the new name.

Don’t miss out on a chance to be a part of the decision.

Best known for her aspirations as an epic fantasy author, Becky is the sole remaining founding member of Speculative Faith. Besides contributing weekly articles here, she blogs Monday through Friday at A Christian Worldview of Fiction. She works as a freelance writer and editor and posts writing tips as well as information about her editing services at Rewrite, Reword, Rework.
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  1. Bethany J. says:

    Blahhh. I liked the original name! The reasons for changing it made sense, though, I guess… Boo. I’m not a big fan of any of the options presented.

  2. dmdutcher says:

    They are okay names. A little generic, I guess. Shadowfax is right out though; don’t know how that one is being considered. Last thing they’d want is to pay royalties to Tolkien’s estate.

  3. 1. “Aeon” is the best of the options, but I wonder if another Biblical/Greek/common/un-taken term could work, such as “Parousia” (with royal, fantastical, and second-coming-of-Christ connotations).

    2. “Enclave” sounds cool, but seems to endorse (apart from intention) the wrongful perception that fantasy/sci-fi fans are niche and weird. Of course, the term needn’t necessarily be tied with that kind of marketing approach!

    3. I like the existing name, but agree a one-word name with an easier “fantasy but professional” sound could work better. A pox on the “bronies” for hijacking “MLP.”

    4. Not sure if “Shadowfax” (lowercase F) would even be legally available per the Tolkien estate?

    5. “Triton” sounds cool but seems thematically vacant. “Third” what? MLP 2.0 will certainly seek to offer God-exalting speculative stories that are Number One!

    • Bethany J. says:

      Agreed on all counts! Except Aeon sounded fluffy and empty to me, sort of generic. I think I voted it low, but it’s growing on me.

      Triton is…ick. Makes me think of King Triton from The Little Mermaid, all bare chested, with half-naked mermaids all around. 😛

  4. I think Shadowfax is the best name, and I doubt if the names of horses are copyrighted. They could always ask for permission. I mean it’s a tribute to Tolkien and I like that as much as I like the cool sound of it.

    Stephen, I’m not sure Parousia Press would pass the radio test. I agree that Enclave sends the wrong message.

    Thinking about it now, I kinda wish Steve had held a contest and picked the finalists from ones submitted. That would have been fun. He could have filtered out the ones that don’t meet the marketing requirements.

    But still, I think this is a very good move. I was never fond of Marcher Lord Press. Any name that needs to be explained before people understand it isn’t maybe that great as a brand for a product.


    • Kirsty says:

      Pretty certain every name in Tolkien is hedged around with barbed wire. I know a guy who had to take down a photo he had for sale because he thought it looked like the Shire and said so in the title 😮

  5. Kessie says:

    Well, they’re definitely more “sci-fi” sounding, but I think they’re also really generic. Was this really honestly our only choices?

    • I’ve never liked “Marcher Lord” — it just sounds forced, and slightly ostentatious. The replacement options are either completely derivative (“ShadowFax”), strangely pagan (“Triton”), or laden with unfortunate implications (“Enclave”). “Aeon” is okay, I guess, but it seems rather anemic.

      If I had a say, I’d suggest something punchy, imaginative, and preferably paradoxical. Something like “FlameVale” or “IronEye” or “BrightCloak.” Or maybe a reference to some exotic locale like “Orbital Anchor,” “Emerald Desert,” or “Circuit Smithy.” Or even a single evocative word: “Sentinel,” “Harbinger,” “Antechamber,” “Wormhole.”

      • dmdutcher says:

        I think their aim is to go the Tor or Baen books route. Short, simple, memorable.

        I’d probably pick Ion or Chalice depending on which demographic he wants to emphasize. If he’s going for girl in dresses CBA fantasy, chalice. More SF, Ion.

  6. Shadowfax is right out though; don’t know how that one is being considered.

    Agreed: I commented with my vote that this option is terrible, as it would be lost in the noise of general Tolkien fandom online. As Stephen pointed out, it’s also a copyright nightmare (no pun intended).

    Thinking about it now, I kinda wish Steve had held a contest and picked the finalists from ones submitted.

    Also agreed: I think this survey is actually terrible because it goes half way in the audience participation arena; either the change should have happened completely in house or there should have been true outreach to the community, building to a survey. Springing it on people without any hint beforehand is not going to satisfy anyone.

    Well, they’re definitely more “sci-fi” sounding, but I think they’re also really generic. Was this really honestly our only choices?

    That’s my feeling as well: aside from Shadowfax, which is extremely problematic and not really encompassing of the entire brand, all of them are very bland. I dislike “Enclave” for the very reasons others have mentioned, as well as the fact that there are a ton of books with that title (including one by faith spec fic writer Karen Hancock), which would muddy the brand and defeat the purpose of a name change.

    I’m in favor of a general change in the brand; while I appreciate all that Jeff did, I was never that fond of the name or logo, and I think pushing the press to mature a bit more is a good move. But the options as is are uninspiring..

    • I think this survey is actually terrible

      It wouldn’t surprise me if this were by design. What better way to get fans talking and go a little viral? It’s better to throw an “option” or more out there that is subpar to spark creativity rather than to ask an open question and offer nothing to work with.

      • If that’s the case, then I feel happily manipulated. 😉

      • dmdutcher says:

        The best way to get fans talking would be news about new books. For some weird reason MLP is horrible about actually teasing the the books they publish. I have them in both facebook and email, and I never get anything from them about upcoming releases. This was even before Steve took over.

        • Amen, amen, amen! I have never understood the way MLP doesn’t give ANY hints about what’s coming down the pipe. Compared to the other spec publishers I follow, the silence from MLP is downright deafening.

        • I think that’s because Jeff doesn’t really do marketing. He’s a writer and an editor–and a visionary who had the guts to branch out and realize a dream, which bears mentioning. When I got into the CBA spec industry 4 years ago, Marcher Lord didn’t have a Facebook or Twitter presence. Really at all. The only reason their social media is functioning now is because those tasks have been outsourced to MLP authors who have volunteered for them. Same as the newsletter, though I think that’s been operational a bit longer than their social media.

          From what I understand, Steve is planning to release his first list at MLP (or whatever the new name will be) this fall. I imagine it will take him some time to get his bearings, especially since he took over at least one contracted project, maybe more, midstream. I expect we’ll actually see more promo material for MLP books before they release with Steve at the helm. Incidentally, I happened to be chatting with Steve recently while he had his tablet handy, so I’ve seen draft versions of two of the covers. They’re gorgeous. One is actually spectacular. In my opinion. 🙂

          • Steve Laube says:

            Lindsay is correct. We will be starting our “cover reveals” next month.

            If you haven’t already, subscribe to the newsletter and you will start seeing what is happening with our new acquisitions. (Two new authors have been added to the community with their books coming this Fall in addition to others on the docket.)

        • David, so far no books have released under Steve’s watch. In fact, in sounds as if the next books will be coming out in the fall.

          But I’m with you. In the past, I didn’t hear much pre-release info about Marcher Lord Press books. I have high hopes this will change.


    • dmdutcher says:

      Yeah, I think in house would be better. The name of the press represents its focus, and it really depends what Steve wants MLP to become. Aeon books to me says SF first, sort of the same way Bantam Spectra does. If he’s planning to do CBA-style cozy fantasy primarily, it’s not the best name for it. Triton especially sounds very hard SF to me.

      It really depends on his vision and marketing plan, and unfortunately he’s given no idea with upcoming books to see how it would work. I mean if we could see he plans to release five fantasies, one SF novel, and a few outliers something along the lines of shadowfax is a lot more powerful a name.

      • Steve Laube says:

        We will be releasing two fantasies. One military sci-fi. One YA comic-hero (John Otte’s third) story. And one repackage of an older title long unavailable as a single book.

        So despite what it seems, things have been moving behind the scenes.

  7. How about this new name for Marcher Lord Press:

    Imago Day Press

    1. Isn’t in use already (there are only a few evangelical/Catholic blogs and there exists an “Imago” publishing supplier based in the UK).
    2. Short, simple, memorable, Tweetable, and domain name is not taken.
    3. Just “Christian” enough (see no. 7) yet not “too Christian-sounding.”
    4. Phonetic spelling — “day” over “dei” — with hard, catchy syllables.
    5. Built-in colloquial shorthand: “I write for Imago.” “It’s an Imago book.” Etc.
    6. Shorthand starts with I, segues to softer MA, ends in imperative: GO.
    7. Latin for “image of God,” a key Biblical truth in which the very concept of storytelling, particularly speculative storytelling, is based. The “insider” or true-fan-test explanation (e.g., similar to the lengthier and more “insider” explanation about the name Marcher Lord) is this: just as our God created His fantastic real world, we bear His image as we enjoy manmade story-worlds.
  8. Celesta says:

    I don’t like any of those new choices. Enclave sounds like a quarantine for people with something wrong with them. Two other ones sound too pagan for my liking and Shadowfax was a horse! I just don’t find that representative of what Marcher Lord Press publishes.

    I think they should just go with Christian Fantasy and Science Fiction or Christian Speculative Fiction. There’s nothing like using proper keywords to attract people who are looking for that type of fiction.

  9. Pam Halter says:

    I voted for Enclave because whether we like it or not, spec writers ARE different from everyone around them. I thought it fit nicely.

    • Mirtika says:

      I rated it way low cause it sounds like we’re trying to be so separated as to be untouchable. It was a CSF novel (I forget, who wrote it, Hancock?)

      The more I ponder it, I don’t think it’s bad. Maybe I would vote it higher. My first sens was that it sounded exclusivist, and I don’t know if we’re trying to exclude. Ah, whatever. 🙂

  10. HG Ferguson says:

    At the risk of sounding like a Latin/language Nazi, Imago Dei should not be pronounced as the English word “day.” Latin already has a word pronounced like that, the word “de,” meaning “concerning, about.” Imago Dei however has the genitive i on it, and sounds like “day-ee.” I think Imago by itself is fine and avoids linguistic confusion. Imago Press has a nice ring to it and an anchor with the Ancient Church, something sadly lacking these days…

  11. H A Titus says:

    I just wish they’d leave it alone. I loved the name Marcher Lord Press. Who cares if folks don’t “get it”? Why do people need to “get” a publishing house’s name? If that was the case then where did Tor or Baen come from?
    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    • I don’t think people need to “get” the name; they should, however, be able to remember it without having it repeated to them. People tend to stop thinking about the actual meaning of commercial names. Nobody has any idea what “Coca-Cola” means, and nobody needs to. The name is memorable and catchy, and for the company’s purpose, that’s good enough.

    • Mirtika says:

      Um, that’s kinda easy. All of us who love SF probably have a bunch of Baen and Tor books Tor has its symbol in it’s logo–the rocky peak. And the name means just that. And it’s a strong, short, easy to remember name and image. I don’t know if Doherty liked that it was like his first name (Tom…Tor…Tom..Tor.) maybe, who knows.

      Baen is a no brainer. Jim Baen. Well known editor who founded Baen books. I used to subscribe to his subscription SF site–round 2006 or 2007–which was a novel thing to do years ago. Didn’t last, but it was a quality site. And it doesn’t hurt that the name “Baen” sounds like “bane.” Always made me think LORD FOUL’S BANE. (It’s okay to think I’m odd, really.)

      So one chosen for the image and brevity. Another was the founder’s last name.

      If we go by those examples we might have a very short word (Aeon would fit) though it’s hard to think of an image of Aeon the way TOR brings up a very quick symbol. If we go by the second, it might be Jeff Press (to honor the founder) or Laube Press (after current owner).

  12. Mirtika says:

    With all the controversy out there now, Imago Day made me think of Vox Day (that whole dei become day).

    Enclave sounds like you wanna keep folks out.

    Shadowfax was also a musical group. And fax makes me think fax machine. Don’t like it. Aeon is too plain–and flux-y.

    Since it’s trying to get a wider audience, how about Xtant Press?(Yes, X for the cross and for Christian)

    Or “Omorphos” which means beautiful–and stories are mean to be that. Plus the morphos makes us think of shape and slantly makes me think of dreams (Morpheus). Truth is beauty. I kinda like that word.

    So, I propose Xtant or Omorphos.

    I don’t like any of the survey choices, though Aeon probably bothers me least. (And isn’t Eos books a speculative imprint? Is it trying to sound like them?)

  13. Mirtika says:

    Triton is a Greek god.
    Tritos is third.

    I kinda like the look and sound of Tritos (not Triton), but why is third significant? The Trinity or the third person of it? I dunno, how come?

  14. Kerry says:

    I think I’m with the crowd here in that I’m not really crazy about the options either. Of them, I thought Aeon best, but that could be because I’m more of a sci-fi person. To be honest, I don’t think people give much thought to publisher names at all. I can’t remember the last time I contemplated the image that was on the spine of a book cover, except when I was helping design my own. With eBooks it becomes even less of an issue, since there is no spine whatsoever.

    As for Marcher Lord and teasing upcoming books, I think when we had only two release cycles a year, a lot more press happened. When we went to the one book a month release cycle, it became difficult to highlight ahead of time. Plus the schedule was often more frantic. The hope for the book-a-month release was that every month one book would get all the focus, as opposed to splitting the “marketing” between three books ever half year. Didn’t really play out that way.

    As Lindsay said above, I would guess the scheduling and marketing will change under Steve’s supervision, but all I know for certain is that Nadine’s “A Time to Die” is next up for release. (November, I think?) Lindsay was also correct in that a lot of what happened was through the voluntary (or near voluntary) efforts of the authors.

    • Kerry, I hope my post didn’t come across like I was dogging Jeff or MLP in any way. Jeff is one of my favorite people ever. 🙂 I have tons of respect for him and everything Marcher Lord has been in the past. I also have lots of respect for Steve and hope for where MLP will go in the future.

      • Kerry Nietz says:

        Not at all, Lindsay. In fact, I think Jeff would probably be the first to admit to everything you said. As for MLP of the past…it was the best we could make it with what we had, and I think there is no shame in that. 🙂

    • Mirtika says:

      I think from a reader’s perspective that I understand why “batch” releases might be better. What if the single release is of no interest to me? I’ve got nothing else to browse. Whereas if 3-4 or more are released at a time, if one doesn’t appeal, another might. If the single release is sci-fi and I prefer fantasy, well, there it is. It’s that choice thing. Readers like choices.

    • And I didn’t even know the release method had changed. I just knew we weren’t getting the big notice of discount prices for pre-orders that we once got.


  15. Leanna says:

    I really dislike, may even go so far as to say abhor, renaming MLP to Enclave. Thematically it just seems the opposite of what was intended by using Marcher Lord. Let’s focus out and up, not in.

    In regards to the others, I don’t like Triton. I don’t understand what Shadowfax has to do with MLP. Aeon is generic sounding to me but maybe that’s not a bad thing. I could get used to it.

  16. Alex Mellen says:

    I loved the name Marcher Lord and what it symbolized…until I started saying MLP. Then I realized that a new name is probably better.

    I voted for Triton, just because I think of Saturn’s moon before The Little Mermaid. But I’m not a fan of any option, really.

    My suggestion: Outer Rim Press. It’s a subtle Star Wars reference that also implies our non-mainstream genre and people.

  17. One minor point, if I may: The word “Shadowfax” is almost certainly not copyrighted. But it almost certainly is, on the other hand, trademarked. And even if it’s not, it seems to this non-lawyer that it would be difficult for the press to get the trademark for itself.

    The one name that I thought of just now, “Ransom Press,” seems to already be taken.

What say you?