John Gregory Betancourt (born October 25, 1963) is a writer of science fiction, fantasy and mystery novels as well as short stories. He has worked as an assistant editor at Amazing Stories and editor of Horror: The Newsmagazine of the Horror Field, the revived Weird Tales magazine, the first issue of H. P. Lovecraft's Magazine of Horror (which he subsequently hired Marvin Kaye to edit), Cat Tales magazine (which he subsequently hired George H. Scithers to edit), and Adventure Tales magazine. He worked as a Senior Editor for Byron Preiss Visual Publications (1989–1996) and iBooks. He is the writer of four Star Trek novels and the new Chronicles of Amber prequel series, as well as a dozen original novels. His essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in such diverse publications as Writer's Digest, The Washington Post, and Amazing Stories.
Betancourt's father is archaeologist Felipe Pablo “Philip” Betancourt, and his brother is critical theorist Michael Betancourt. As a child, John Betancourt spent summers in Greece, especially Crete, where his father worked on the excavation at Kommos in the 1970s, and Pseira in the 1980s. There, in his early years, he developed a love for reading and discovered such diverse writers as Clark Ashton Smith, Michael Moorcock, and Jack Vance through books imported from the United Kingdom. He said of this time, “When I ran out of stories, I made up my own to keep myself entertained. I can trace the impulse to become a writer to age fourteen, when I spent most of a summer writing sequels to classics like Treasure Island.”
Betancourt's first published work was a poem, “The Argia,” in Space & Time magazine at age 15. At age 16, he made his first professional sale, “Vernon's Dragon,” to the anthology 100 Great Fantasy Short-Short Stories, edited by Isaac Asimov, John F. Carr, and Martin H. Greenberg. He began his first-published novel, The Blind Archer, at age 17, finished it at age 18, and sold it to Avon Books at age 19. He graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor of Arts.
Betancourt has alternated between writing and editing throughout his career. He worked for Amazing Stories as an assistant editor from 1985 to 1987. When the Philadelphia office shut down, he co-founded a literary agency with George Scithers and Darrell Schweitzer. A year later, Betancourt, Scithers, and Schweitzer licensed the name Weird Tales from Weird Tales, Ltd. and revived the magazine. Betancourt worked as an editor there until 1990.
Betancourt married Kim Betancourt (née Hermo) in 1990, and they moved from Philadelphia to Newark, New Jersey. He founded Wildside Press in 1989 to publish a collection of essays by Fritz Leiber designed to commemorate Leiber's appearance as Principal Speaker at Philcon that year. The book, Fafhrd & Me sold out quickly, and Betancourt decided to publish additional titles as a hobby.
Betancourt was named science fiction editor for Byron Preiss Visual Publications in 1990. He worked for Byron Preiss for 7 years, rising to Senior Editor, before leaving to write full-time and take care of his and Kim Betancourt's first child. This marked the beginning of his most prolific period as an author.
Betancourt also continued to publish books through Wildside Press during this period, using local short-run printers and Pulphouse Publishing to print new titles. Some of the limited editions, particularly titles by Mike Resnick, are impressive efforts. The limited editions of Resnick's Lucifer Jones series are bound in such exotic materials as Spanish cork, French leopard-patterned cloth, and leather. The limited editions he published of Bradley Denton's two short story collections are bound in Spanish snakeskin-patterned cloth and elephant-hide paper. The lettered editions have mahogany slipcases. The Denton collections won a World Fantasy Award for Best Collection of the Year.
In Autumn 2005, the husband-and-wife team of DNA Publications sold Weird Tales to Betancourt. Betancourt has continued to publish Weird Tales through Wildside Press. In 2006 he hired Stephen H. Segal who he then made Editorial Director of the magazine; Segal subsequently recruited Ann VanderMeer as Fiction Editor. In 2009, Segal and VanderMeer won a Hugo Award for Weird Tales in the category of Best Semiprozine. The magazine was also nominated for a 2009 World Fantasy Award.
Print on demand
In 1998, Betancourt discovered print on demand technology, which produces one book at a time. He became a pioneer in the field, bringing hundreds (eventually thousands) of books into print through PoD. Betancourt incorporated Wildside Press in 2004 and continued to expand the company, as gross annual sales continued to grow. As of January 2010, Wildside Press had more than 11,000 books in print, ranging from classic literature to genre titles by H. Beam Piper, John W. Campbell, Jr., Andre Norton, and others.
Wildside Press took up an increasing amount of his time, though Betancourt still managed to produce one novel and several short stories most years. He brought in genre writers and editors to work on Wildside Press projects. Employees in the 2000–07 period included such authors and editors as P.D. Cacek, Darrell Schweitzer, George H. Scithers, Vera Nazarian, Stephen H. Segal, and Sean Wallace.
In 2006, Betancourt partnered with AudioRealms to release new and classic science fiction, fantasy, and horror in Audiobook format. Initial releases included H. Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy and Andre Norton's The Time Traders, as well as works by Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft.
At the same time, Betancourt created a new mass-market paperback line, Cosmos Books, with Dorchester Publishing.
In 2007, Betancourt received the Black Orchid Novella Award from the Nero Wolfe Society (the “Wolfe Pack”) and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine for his novella “Horse Pit.” The award, which consisted of a certificate, a prize of $1,000.00, and publication in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, was presented at the Wolfe Pack's annual Black Orchid Banquet on December 1, 2007.
John Gregory Betancourt lives in Maryland with his wife Kim and two sons.