Sullivan St Press on the Road and at Work

Our Itinerant Book Show will be going live soon, which means we’re leaving town. For several weeks (from 7/11-9/25), we’ll be away. We’ll be in our Prius filled with all our gear and hitting many KOAs across the country (as far west as the western entrance to Yellowstone National Park). We will visit as many indie bookstores and public libraries as possible during this summer road trip. We want to learn what goes on there and share with them our books and plans for the future. 

Here’s A Sneak Peek

SSP, as I fondly call my company, has lots of big plans going forward.  

Currently, SSP publishes novels, the Scags Series, and vegan books, the Vegan City Guides. In the works now are two different but ambitious projects based on these two series. What will be worked through over the next months, both while we are on the road and when we return, is a renewed commitment to make SSP an e-book only company. 

What Does E-Book Only Mean?

We’ll stop all Print on Demand. Based on the talks I gave at the NYC Green Festival in June, I worked very hard to lay out the reasons for “Why Publishing’s Future is Green Publishing.” I’ll be sharing those ideas in a series of blog posts soon. The short message is that The publishing industry needs to cut down its carbon footprint and learn to love the e-book. 

Going Forward

The Scags Series will be completed in 2018. Scags at 45 is the final volume. But Scags herself is a new writer for SSP and her first book, also coming out in 2018, Born Loser, Born Lucky will be about the exploits of her character, Sophie, and her work to kill the cancer in our global heart’s soul. We’ll be launching Scags’ books as e-books only. And we’re working on a way to put the entire Scags Series into an app. So, lots to do but all of it will offer much more interconnection with other writers and their books. 

The Vegan City Guides series is also plodding forward. We are talking to and looking for more partners. We want to go 50-state wide. We want to show the entire nation’s vegan footprint well beyond a focus on food but to encompass every aspect of what it means to be vegan. Thus for the animals, for our environment, for our health and for the spiritual well being of those who seek to live compassionately. 

Our goals are ambitious but should even a part of this new work bear fruit, there will be much more of interest to offer readers and writers for years to come. 

#GoVegan #ReadBooks

Why Vegan Now?

I could have titled this, “Why not Vegan Yesteday?” but vegans get criticized for their tone, their lack of sensitivity and their self-righteousness.

I haven’t been a vegan for that long (5 years) and I often kick myself about that relatively short time of aligning my conscience with the fate of this planet. Having been an environmentalist for much longer, it amazes me now how long it took me to connect the dots from caring about this planet and caring about the animals.

Everyone’s story is different. Mine began with working on a vegan book (I am a publisher) and realizing how my author’s journey to becoming vegan opened my eyes.

When I talk about being vegan and about being a publisher, you can hear me here on Saturday and Sunday (6/10, 6/11), I am serious. The Sullivan Street Press website is a carbon-free site. We sell our books as both e-books and bound books that are Print on Demand. This means we are creating as small a carbon footprint as possible to be in this world of books.

But I digress.

My question at the top requires an answer. The planet needs your help. The planet is more than this geological rock we are all attached to. It consists of all that is in and on it. All that grows from it. All that has been here. It is a history machine full of billions of stories composed by all the life forms that have called this planet home. Most of that life no longer exists.

Our actions, human actions, have destroyed these species through both abuse and neglect. Our trajectory is heading towards the ultimate destruction of all life we need to survive.

One of the worst contributors to the death throes of our planet is industrialized agriculture. In particular, humans have taken to the brutal raising, genetic altering and slaughter of beef, pork, lamb, goat and turkeys, chicken, duck, goose as well as all life in the seas (fresh and saltwater). We are trying to to feed too many humans. Our planet will soon be exhausted. We have given it an unbearable burden and then destroyed those elements all life needs–clean air and water.

Give up consuming all animal products.  Find better ways to create books than destroying forests.

You can do this. You can save the planet.

We Need You!

Calling all book lovers, please lend a hand. Sullivan Street Press needs your help to get all our books into all 16,000 public libraries and especially our e-books. We need to change the conversation about e-books. We aren’t paying close enough attention to those who benefit the most from e-books.

A very good reason to support e-book purchases at your library

Not every person who loves to read has easy access to a library or a bookstore. Whether because of age, income level, disability or non-existence, many fellow citizens cannot get to a library or a bookstore or bookstores do not exist. The push for this love of bound books is understandable but not always equitable.

E-books can be downloaded from libraries by anyone with access to a computer. They need not get to the library to check out or return a borrowed e-book. This convenience is a remarkable contribution that libraries make to the communities they serve. Your help will mean a great deal to those not as mobile as you or with easy access to libraries by car or public transportation.

The global village is connected by Smartphones

The same restrictions can apply to even more isolated and distant locales where book lovers live and work but again may have no access to a bookstore or a library. Smartphones have become the means by which these people stay connected to the world. In these ways, they have Facebook accounts and can see what their global friends are reading and recommending.

Helping Sullivan Street Press to push its rankings higher by writing reviews, by discussing our books on your Facebook pages and by reaching out to friends with recommendations of our books, will be a great service to this small press.

Small presses must compete with the large ones without the same resources

Having to compete for everything with the much larger publishing companies for the limited and shrinking attention that books receive almost everywhere is a constant battle for Sullivan Street Press. It is our intention to stay in business but we can’t do that without the help of those who read our books. Word-of-mouth sales are actually among the most effective there are. So, please speak up and show your support for the books we publish. You can download these fliers and take them to your library, share them on your FB pages or you can go to our FB page and download them from there. And we thank you immensely for this support.

You can follow us here:

On FB and Twitter

 

 

Q and A with Vance Lehmkuhl

“The American Vegan Society appreciates Vance Lehmkuhl’s distinctive voice in Philadelphia and the valuable work that he does keeping vegan views in front of readers throughout the region.”
There you have it, the seal of approval from the American Vegan Society for Vance Lehmkuhl’s work. This past year, Sullivan Street Press had the privilege of publishing two of his books: V for Veg: The Best of Philly’s Vegan Food Column and Eating Vegan in Philly.
I asked Vance to take some time from his busy schedule to answer some questions and here are his answers.
1. If you had 30 seconds to convince me to read your book, not buy it, but read it, what would you say?
If you care about animals, or about vegan eating, or have questions about them or about Philly’s food scene, or if you just like to read fun food writing, this book will satisfy and you will not finish it wishing you could have that couple hours of your life back. I absolutely guarantee it, but not in any legally binding way. It has a lot of good information and a certain amount of attitude, always pushing forward in an animal-free direction.
2. Tell us about how you became a vegan food columnist. (How long, what prepared you for it and why?)
I started out as a vegetarian cartoonist as of about 1992, working my pro-animal opinions into my political cartoon for Philadelphia City Paper, “How-To Harry,” which I drew weekly for 12 years, and also in the “Edgy Veggies” cartoon I did for VegNews Magazine for its first 8 years. In 2000 as I turned vegan I started working as the online editor of the Philadelphia Daily News, and I pitched a vegan story, then another, etc. and for a time I wrote vegan op-eds for the Opinion section. In 2010 I started campaigning for a column and finally got the green light in 2011, and “V for Veg” started that summer with a trip to a hot dog joint that’s no longer there, and a deli that was serving vegan banh mi sandwiches, and which still is. I started the philly.com companion blog V for Veg in 2013.
3. Your writing is both witty and informed–do you think that reflects the vegan community in Philadelphia? Is it sophisticated and fun loving?
Well… I’d shy away from a blanket statement about the vegan community in Philadelphia. Partially because there are a good many vegans here of whom I only know maybe 30-40. Of course there are certainly a good many who are sophisticated and fun loving, but from the big-picture perspective the community, historically somewhat disjoint, is just now growing into a mutually supportive community commensurate with the world-class vegan dining town Philadelphia is becoming, and I think our vegan dining boom that has coincided with, ahem, the run of my column, may be part of that equation.
4. Do you see yourself as a vegan activist or are you reflecting the level of engagement in Philadelphia?
“Activist” is a loaded term both for my fellow journalists and for street activists who don’t want the term tarnished by slacktivism, so I’ll just say I consider myself an advocacy journalist. I’m writing with a clear and transparent mission to advocate for something, but at the same time I have to be held to journalistic standards of factual accuracy. So certainly at the same time I am reflecting the level of animal-free engagement in Philly, which is growing.
5. You have seen a long line of vegan fads, restaurants, activities come and go in Philadelphia. Your book mentions many of them. What are your favorites and why did you choose them?
Kale chips was a fun one because it was like my fourth column and I felt like I recognized this just as it was hitting and before it was considered a trend, so I made a big deal out it with the Drudge-style “Must Credit V for Veg!” On the other end of the timeline, Aquafaba, bean water that can be used in baking, was an exciting thing to find out about and research and try out, and I think there’s still a lot to come from that. I still get a kick out of the Silk almond-milk “Milkman” ad and it was fun to talk to the guy that came up with that. Also, the movie, “Noah” was pretty good and my blog post calling it “vegan propaganda” spent some time as the highest-traffic item of any kind on our site, Philly.com. Lots of fun things I wouldn’t necessarily have encountered if I weren’t watching for column topics, and I am glad to have had a chance to do some of the things, and eat some of the food, that my columnist position has called for.
To find out more about Vance’s two books, you can follow the Facebook pages
@vvegphillysveganfood
@eatingveganin
And order the books through the website: http://sullivanstpress.com/

Scags as character and author

It is time to start writing about two novels that will be published in early 2018. One is about Scags, the character I created for the Scags Series and will be the final volume of the series. The second book will be by Scags and it will be the start of a new set of stories, written by Scags.

On the face of it, this may seem like a bit too much of the same thing. The final volume, Scags at 45, is a memoir, Scags’ story of her life with its own ending to the series. In the midst of “writing” that story, she is given a set of stories to tell that are not about her but about a different character, Sophie, who is a new kind of super-hero: a lesbian, angered by a lover’s betrayal who receives a packet of papers that reveal the secrets of the most successful businesses in the US, which are also involved in sex trafficking, drugs and money laundering. Sophie, being pursued for these papers because of who they expose, becomes involved with a group of women, many of them clergy, who are engaged in destroying this tumor at the heart of the American soul.

As Scags at 45 advances, Scags shares her early attempts at writing this political thriller that becomes the novel, Born Loser, Born Lucky (BLBL). These writings, embedded in the e-book version of Scags at 45, will link to a separate landing page on the Sullivan Street Press website. For those reading the book in paperback, the links will be available too.

I’ve been asked if writing two novels at once is really possible. One trick I found for keeping track of each story is to talk about them. As counter intuitive as that seems, I am getting help in two ways. First, by repetition, I remember more of the story. Second, which goes concomitantly with this, by watching the faces of those I tell the stories to, I see if they are bored, confused. So far, no one has been either bored or confused.

This process of writing has made me think that perhaps I am a story telling trail blazer, which is a great motivator to write every day.

Follow some of my progress here: www.facebook.com/scagsseries

Buy books here: http://sullivanstpress.com/

Q & A with Andy Tabar

I met Andy Tabar of Compassion Co at the Vegan Pop-Up Show in Morristown, NJ this January. He was one of the vendors there, along with Sullivan St. Press selling his line of t-shirts, tank tops, sweaters, gloves and so forth. What got me interested in Andy’s business was the fact that he traveled to VegFests all over the country by van and lived in his van. He offered these answers in response to my questions.
1. Describe your business and how you got the idea to travel and live in your van from VegFest to VegFest.

Compassion Co is a vegan clothing line that is committed to creating organic or recycled, USA made and sweat shop free garments. All of our designs feature original hand drawn graphics and are printed using water based inks by a small eco-friendly printshop. My goal is to create clothing that will start productive conversations while still maintaining the vegan ethic throughout the entire chain of production. I started the company over five years ago and it has evolved greatly since then. At the time I still had a home base in New Haven, CT and worked a full time job. I was traveling to local VegFests in the Northeast as much as I could before taking a touring position with the 10 Billion Live tour, a traveling vegan education program. As a tour member, I had a schedule that was 6 months on, 6 months off. During my off period, I decided to pack up my car and visit as many VegFests as possible and see if I could sustain myself off of it. I really enjoyed the lifestyle and seeing I was on the road more than I was home, I decided it was time to ditch my apartment, as well as most of my belongings, and move into a new van. It just made the most sense for the life I wanted to have. One with plenty of freedom and lots of travel all supported by a company promoting a message I believe in strongly.

2. How many people are involved in your business?

As far as the day to day operations go, I am the only person in the company and am technically a sole proprietor. But I do rely on a number of good friends who help with everything from tabling at the VegFests I can’t attend, doing my screen printing and providing some of the art. With all of those folks tallied up, there are 8 of us who make things happen.

3. How many miles per year do you travel?

Currently I travel about 35,000 miles per year.

4. How long have you been in business and how much longer do you think you’ll be living like this?

I’ve been in business since October, 2011. The van life definitely suits me but as the company grows it’s becoming less manageable from a van. I tell myself that I’ll keep doing it until it no longer makes me happy.

5. Can you explain what you sell, how well your sales are going? Do you see any trends in terms of locations/demographics/time of year/year-to-year?

We sell graphic screen printed garments, this includes t-shirts, tank tops, scarves, hats and hoodies as well as buttons and stickers. Sales continue to grow every year. I don’t know how well I’m doing compared to others in my field, but I know I’m able to provide enough for myself and that’s all I really need. As far as trends, I see things like tank tops selling much better in warmer climates and obviously hoodies and scarves sell much better in colder parts of the country.

6. How would you characterize your typical shopper? What kinds of questions do they ask? What’s the most popular item(s) you carry?

People of all demographics seem to love what I produce, it’s hard to tell who my clothing will resonate with. Though I pride myself on sourcing clothing from more ethical sources, the average shopper really only cares about whether they like the design and if it will fit them well. Our most popular design is almost always our “humane meat does not exist, go vegan” design featuring a snarky, rainbow haired, unicorn.
7. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get started in this business?

The first piece of advice I give anyone that wants to get into the t-shirt business is “don’t” (haha). It’s a LOT of work and it’s a very crowded field. People think the business consists of coming up with a few clever plant-related puns, then stick them on a shirt and they will sell thousands of shirts. It is much more complicated a business than that. It comes down to determination: If someone is truly determined to start their own clothing line, then make sure you have something interesting and unique to offer, then go for it. If someone IS doing what you want to do but you know you can do it better, go for it. Otherwise, it may be time to think of something else to do.

 

Crowdfunding the Sullivan Street Press Way

The story of Sullivan Street Press is this: We began in order to change the publishing paradigm. Our new crowd funding program is part of that paradigm shift.

Writers Need to be Paid

Some things don’t need to be changed. Writers need to be paid and they need to be paid because they have worked hard and created a book that no one else could have written.

Writers Need Supportive Communities

Books cannot live if no one reads them. This is not an issue of if a tree falls in the forest, no, this is a contract that is made between the writer and the reader. She needs for the reader she imagined while writing to become involved in making sure the world is also interested in this new book.

Crowd Funding=Community Support

This is the magic formula for books published by Sullivan Street Press. The friends and family of the writer, the ones she is thinking of as she writes, are the core community we need to engage so we can raise the money to pay for the costs of producing all our books. I know that some writers are frightened to ask for this kind of help, but as a good friend of mine constantly says: “Ask not, get not.”

Paying by PayPal So The Books Are Paid For

Like all publishers, Sullivan Street Press’ contract stipulates that an author will not receive royalties until the costs of production are paid for. If 30-50 people send a minimum donation of $50 to the Sullivan Street Press PayPal account, the entire cost of producing most of our books will be covered.

Your Reward

Each person who gives $50 will receive a signed copy of the book from the author.

What You Will Pay For

Our production partner, Scribe, Inc., has helped us reduce the costs of production. We are asking for the money to cover the editorial and production work on each title, as well as some of the costs for distribution of the books. (The money will never go towards salaries, office space, supplies.)

The Buck Isn’t the End of It

As the book reaches its launch date, we need you to go to your local library. Librarians need to hear from you that the writer’s book should be on the shelves and the writer should be invited to give a reading. You are needed to write reviews on the various book sites and to send letters of recommendations for this book to book reviewers, to ask your book club to read the book and spend time with the author. You are needed to recommend the book to your friends and family.

This type of support is as necessary as money.

Community

I now end as I began. Singing the praises of a book’s inherent community: those people the author thought about when writing the book.  As the publisher, this is the sweet harmony of the book business. When I watch a writer read to the very audience she had in mind when she wrote her book; seeing all those eyes watching her with complete attention, I know that we can ask them, you, to go out and sing the praises of the new book because now you too have come full circle with the writer and made a new book possible.

Here is where you can help us: sullivanstpress.com/help-our-books/