Bad Ass: The Blade Runners!


by J. Scott Bugher

Split Lip is a bad ass press that likes bad ass things like professional wrestling. Read further and learn about Split Lip’s favorite two people one should never, ever fuck with.

Who were the most bad ass masters of wreckage to step inside a WCW or WWF ring? Give you some hints and some history: They were both a part of The Blade Runners, a tag-team for the ever-so-popular CWA (Continental Wrestling Association) back in 1985. One of the team’s world destroyers was Steve Borden, better known as Flash in the day. The other expert of torment was James Hellwig, better known as Rock. Not the Rock who took over our WWF brand sleeping bags and lunch boxes in 1996, but simply Rock. BAD ASS.

They were first known as the Freedom Fighters, a team of one looking like Zack Morris on steroids and the other looking like Lou Ferrigno on more steroids. But once the new wave music scene hit the radio, the two kings of demolition changed their look to spiked hair––Flash bleached his blonde and Rock dyed his jet black. BAD ASS.

Once the freedom-fighting brow-beaters of doom realized The Blade Runners would be a far more bad ass name, they painted their faces and fought as intensely as Kiss guitar solos. But only after six months as a tag team, they parted ways. Rock moved on to fight in the WWF and changed his name to the iconic Ultimate Warrior (RIP, Bruiser) and Flash went with the WCW as the oh-so-mother-frackin-bad-ass name, Sting! BAD ASS to the 10th power.

Why are these men loved by Split Lip? Because these two legends of pain define BAD ASS. Just look at the timeline below.


A little cute, but still pretty Bad Ass.


Who just escalated to complete Bad Ass? Oh, I think these guys did.


OH MY GOD! ‘Scuse me while I go puke. I can’t stomach the Bad Ass.

So, there you have it folks. The definition of Bad Ass. Split Lip Press can only hope to be as bad ass as these two Doctors of Ruin.


Size Does Not Matter To Editors


by J. Scott Bugher

In the publisher / writer relationship, size doesn’t matter. Yet I’ve encountered so many writers who do not concur with that. They think it’s all about the size of their dick (and I’m speaking metaphorically when it comes to female writers). So take the following illustration and learn your lesson if you believe size matters.

I rejected a manuscript from a contest held by Split Lip Press. Upon receiving the contest results announcement, the writer of the rejected manuscript got upset. So he emails me. Says, “I have four published books, have appeared in over 100 magazines, and many of the poems from the manuscript you rejected have been published by a number of elite journals.” What was he expecting by telling me this? For me to write an apology and admit I fucked up and am a failure as an editor / publisher? No. Fuck that guy. I could give a shit that he has 4 books and all sorts of publications. That didn’t change that his work blew chunks.

Now, if you’re a writer who believes you’re a big deal, consider this:

Say, if you’re a male, you ask a woman out for a date and she rejects you. What do you do? Do you say, “Oh yeah? Well, I have a ten-inch dick and have slept with 78 women and have had 22 threesomes.” Will that make the woman apologize and feel that she made a big mistake by rejecting you? Probably not. Instead, you’ll probably receive a backhand to your face or a well-earned kick in the balls.

Bottom line: If you’re a writer and feel it’s important to tell an editor how important you are, or how big your dick is, you’re doing nothing but asking for a backhand to your face.

“Punch for Punch” Read by Jared Yates Sexton

Split Lip Press is happy to bring you a short video of Jared Yates Sexton reading “Punch by Punch” (first published by PANK) from his book The Hook and the Haymaker, which is scheduled to release by Split Lip Press in early 2015. Take a look, give it a listen and enjoy this masterful storyteller do his thing.


Jared Yates Sexton Signs Book Deal with Split Lip Press


Split Lip Press is privileged to announce it has signed a two-year, two-book deal with fiction rock star Jared Yates Sexton. The first of the two forthcoming titles, The Hook and the Haymaker, is scheduled to release January 15, 2015.

A perfect fit for Split Lip’s punk rock aesthetic, Sexton says of his first collection, An End to All Things (Atticus Books, 2012): “When I was younger I challenged myself to write things my family members would be uncomfortable reading, or things that could get me in hot water with people I knew.” Split Lip, a press unafraid of hot water in any manner, is exceedingly proud to have Sexton join its roster.

“Sexton defines Split Lip fiction,” says Editor-in-Chief J. Scott Bugher. “His dry wit and dark humor, how it colors his prose about life’s complications that are universal to all, led me to seek him out. There is no better way of putting it: If you want a clear understanding of the Split Lip brand, take a look at any story by Sexton. Notice the hints of Carver, McCarthy and Bukowski. The work has grit, and grit is Split Lip Press.”

Sexton joined Split Lip after J. Scott Bugher, a lifelong fan, recruited him heavily. Seeing all the press had to offer, Sexton’s reply was a very enthusiastic “yes.” Bugher, also publisher of Split Lip Magazine, was thrilled enough to have published Sexton’s short story, “Behold, I Come as a Thief” in the magazine’s January 2013 issue, then even more so when that story was selected as one of only four stories in Sundress Publication’s prestigious Best of the Net anthology. Now that he’ll be releasing two full books by the author, Bugher considers this deal “a milestone” for his company.

Split Lip Press is a discerning outlet seeking select titles that celebrate solid literary works. Stepping in to fill the industry void left by big wig publishers, Bugher is a leading figure in the literary scene as one who releases only the best-written fiction and poetry rather than young adult book franchises and murder-mysteries released by major publishing houses. Selectivity is a stringent affair for Split Lip Press when seeking manuscripts for book publication, and such selectivity is based on high standards for quality writing, which Sexton surpasses, and an author’s activity in the literary scene, a world that Sexton is very tapped into given his impressive publications, appearances at major literary events, and his memorable, animated readings.

The grounds for Split Lip’s high standards come down to this: Split Lip believes there are fans still hungry for new literary fiction and poetry, fans willing to comb small presses for the such. It is Split Lip’s mission to provide readers with books that shine brighter than the rest.

About Jared Yates Sexton:

After receiving his MFA at Southern Illinois University, Sexton moved on to teach writing at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana and serve as managing editor for BULL: Men’s Fiction. In 2012, he landed a gig with the creative writing faculty at Georgia Southern University. Winning attention from editors worldwide, Sexton, along with his Best of the Net selection, has had work appear in publications like Salon, Southern Humanities Review, Hobart, PANK, and elsewhere. His stories have been nominated for a handful of Pushcarts, the Million Writers Award, and was a finalist for the New American Fiction Prize. His first book, An End To All Things, has been lauded by critics in Publisher’s Weekly, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Portland Book Review, among others. In short, Sexton is a force in the literary scene. He doesn’t throw punches in the dark; he knows his targets and lands a hard blow to each one with every swing of his bare-knuckled fist.

About Split Lip Press:

A former top Nashville session musician, J. Scott Bugher bases Split Lip Press on the modern music industry, where recording artists understand major label record deals are things of the past, which has triggered the rise of indie labels releasing the best music out there. Bugher feels like publishing is evolving similarly. “For some reason, writers have sat on manuscripts for up to a decade while paying up to thousands in reading and contest fees, hoping for a major book deal,” says Bugher. “Why hold onto a manuscript for that long and pay that much when you can partner with a determined and passionate small press?” Though Split Lip can only do so much, the bookmaker believes small press publishing is the new world order for the literary scene.

For more information on Jared Yates Sexton, visit

For more information on Split Lip Press, visit

Who Do We Publish


by J. Scott Bugher

So, as you might have read in the first post, we have a few forthcoming books: A Two-Year Diary: The Best of Split Lip Magazine  (August 31, 2014),  Ice Children by Ed Harkness, (September 22, 2014) The Bear Who Ate the Stars by Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach (October 20, 2014) and Love & Sundries by Nicholas Reading (November 17, 2014).

Who are we looking for and what are we seeking to publish next? The “who” we’re looking for needs to an active contributor to the literary community, not one simply seeking to add leverage to their CV. The “what” we’re looking for needs to be in sync with the information below.

We like something that does something, which results in something new. Fiction with an arc and poetry with a narrative. Vignettes of mundane life, notes of pop culture, hints of sex, etc. Stories that take place in a motel room instead of the jungle, poems narrating a story instead of a stretch of abstruse metaphors. We want grit, and grit does not mean porn or gore. Grit means trouble, the “I’ve been there before” type: rolling up the window next to a panhandler at a stoplight, getting yelled at for public breastfeeding, trying to slip a condom over a half-erect penis, running without grace to the bathroom in need of relief, selling prized possessions to a pawn shop due to hard times, et cetera.

Still uncertain? How about we list some writers we like. That always helps.

PROSE: Nicholson Baker, Ann Beattie, John Cheever, Anton Chekov, Raymond Carver, Mary Karr, Charles Bukowski, Richard Yates, Janet Fitch, Cormac McCarthy, Flannery O’Connor.

POETRY: Kim Addonizio, James Tate, Stephen Dobyns, Sharon Olds, Richard Hugo, Michael Meyerhofer, Jack Gilbert, Allison Joseph, Claudia Emerson, Marie Howe, Yusef Komunyakaa.

Split Lip Press publishes poetry or flash fiction/memoir chapbooks, full-length poetry or short story/memoir collections, and novellas.

Writers taken in by Split Lip will get: the Split Lip  imprint, 25% royalties instead of the standard 10% – 15%, an ISBN, a well-designed book, a handful of author copies, promotion, and additional copies sold to the author at a fair price. We also offer discounted rates on author website design if one is interested.

We accept queries with a manuscript sample: 3 – 5 poems or 3 – 5 pages of prose. Please do not submit full manuscripts. If the sample blows our minds, we’ll ask for the full package.

Submission guidelines and how to submit can be found HERE.

The Split Lip Press Site has Launched!

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Just a quick note to WordPress junkies worldwide–– Split Lip Press is proud to have gone public with its website, For information on the press, its forthcoming titles, the authors it represents and the services it offers to all writers, pour a cup of tea and spend some time browsing what we’ve got going on.

Big things are in the works including a big announcement we’ll go public with on Monday, August 18th. It’s good stuff, people. Really, really good stuff.

Wishing you all the best,

J. Scott Bugher, Editor-in-Chief

Split Lip Press: An Introduction


Dear WWW, hello––

My name is J. Scott Bugher, founder of Split Lip Magazine, an online venue that features literature, music, fine art and film. Back in March 2014, we held our first chapbook contest: The Uppercut Chapbook Awards, so now we’re in the business of bookmaking. We’ve got The Bear Who Ate the Stars by contest winner Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach and Ice Children by runner-up Ed Harkness. Both titles are scheduled to release in September this year. For a sample poem from each book, you can visit HERE, where you can also listen to the poets read their work. Additionally, we have Love & Sundries by Nicholas Reading scheduled to release in November, 2014.

As a former top Nashville session musician, my mission with Split Lip Press is to catch the literary world up with the music industry. Big book deals and big record deals are things of the past unless your books are branded under James Patterson or if your record is pop country or R&B. What are writers doing about this? Frankly, I don’t see them doing much but continuing to sit on their manuscripts, paying hundreds of dollars in contest or reading fees and hoping to win the attention of an editor to get their big break. What are musicians doing? They’re telling the music industry to fuck off and taking matters into their own hands by signing on with small independent labels and releasing their music DIY style.

Thing is: Musicians no longer make demo tapes and send them to major record labels only to wait a long time to hear back when they most likely will not. That’s simply too much time to waste. Demo tapes have been rendered obsolete in the music business, but they are alive and well in the literary world. What? Demo tapes in the literary world? Yes. They are in the form of 8.5″ x 11″ sheets of paper usually taken by a writer to a reading event. They will read from them and, if it’s been picked up by a big publisher, announce that it’s forthcoming in a year or two. Guess what prospective fans do in a year or two. They forget about the writer. They don’t go home and mark their calendar two years out and wait. Split Lip is here to help in eliminating literary demo tapes because, frankly, they’re of no use other than for a writer to read from. I remember attending a reading given by a rather good poet. I asked about a certain poem, where I could find it. He told me it’s in a manuscript that had been taken by some major publisher with an undetermined release date. Here’s what he does: He gives me the demo tape sheet of paper, and I thank him. Oh, but that was not all–– He tells me to hold on, grabs a pen, and then autographs it. It doesn’t get anymore anticlimactic than that, folks. Good writers need to have books. Ever go to a concert where bands are autographing demo tapes? No. They have records, proper and well-designed.

Sure, Split Lip can’t publish everything we receive for matters of whether or not the manuscript fits the Split Lip brand and/or room in the budget, but we are here to take manuscripts from writers we feel are a good match for us and get their books out quickly. None of this “forthcoming 2023” shit. We also want to do our best with profit-sharing, so we give our writers a 25% cut as opposed to the 10% – 15% norm. We do our best with promotion as well: discounted rates for website design, solicit book reviews or release announcements, and help organize blog tours––whatever we can do.

We’re on WordPress because blogging is what we’re supposed to do, right? Damn. Gotta think of all sorts of shit to keep you all entertained. That’s a lot of pressure. We’re not only blogging, though. We’ve got a website in the works right now, which will be announced and blogged about here.

So that’s my introductory blurb, everybody. Check back in with this blog for more news. I’ll be posting about our forthcoming book releases, our authors’ websites, opinions on the publishing scene, projects in the works, and plenty of folly. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more.

J. Scott Bugher, Editor-in-Chief