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/

Libraries and Bookstores: Helpful Friends

When I wrote the article about integrating libraries and bookstores in 2014, I realized that what we needed were places where both print and digital and archives and rooms for community could co-exist. The best ways of seeing this integration, in my mind, was to allow the public and the private to blend into one. And while I am not portraying the roles that publishers can play in this new mashup, trust me, I will be writing about that as well.

Mutual Assured Cooperation

Public libraries have their own structures for ordering, processing, shelving, cataloging books. Bookstores too have their own systems for ordering books, displaying them and payment methods for books that also allow bookstores to return unsold books. It is easy for any bureaucrat on either side of this seeming divide to say that for these reasons alone, there can be no integration of bookstores and libraries. Yet, there are ways all of this could be managed in order for us to move ahead.

So Digital

Libraries have an outstanding edge over bookstores. First is they usually have a much larger understanding of and access to e-books. It may come as a surprise to many that you can download an e-book from your library from your home and when it is due back at the library, it will just be deleted from your device. Another thing that may surprise many, is there are currently libraries getting rid of their bookshelves entirely. Seeing the future a bit more clearly than lots of publishers, they know that those who use their libraries are there with a laptop or to use their laptops. Having access to a free wifi site is essential in communities where the cost of such a service is prohibitive and the added benefit is you have trained researchers close to hand.

Libraries now offer classes on how to create e-books, how to code, how to tell stories with digital tools. They provide all these tools for working in the digital world and usually for free and with good teachers who want to share their experience. Having clean, well lit spaces for such work is important and libraries can do this better than anyone else in our communities.

Let There Be Print

That then is not a dismissal of print. Print is still needed in many ways and for many people. It is mostly in this domain where the two, bookstores and libraries, overlap and support one another. Selling books fills a need. Having authors come into our communities to read from and discuss their new books is a pleasure. Book clubs and writing groups like to use bookstores for the ambience as well as the availability of all the newest titles. Print is preserved in many ways by how bookstores function in their communities. I would also suggest that new ways can also be found such as having the sales reps from the distributors come to bookstores prepared to present the books to the community rather than to just the buyer, allowing those interested in what is new to hear the sales speech and to learn more about how books are sold.

We Can Change Everything

Yes, that can all happen and parts of it are happening now. If we integrate the systems and make them work both collaboratively and independently, where they must, we will be saving the book business, expanding the reach of our libraries, giving authors many more venues to speak in and bringing a vibrant book culture into every community. These benefits are not out of reach; they require all of us to advocate for them.

E-Books, Print Books and Giving

Ah, it is that time of year again, no, not quite Christmas, but almost my birthday and Chanukah. Now my thoughts turn to snow, the cold and how you can support this publishing company I run, Sullivan Street Press.

Hear my prayers

First I pray that most of you will take it into your hearts to love and to read e-books. Whether you buy them for yourself, buy gift cards for your friends and family, ask your libraries to buy our books, there are so many ways you can both show your support for our e-books while at the same time helping the authors I publish get their stories into a wider world of readers. (To learn more about e-books, here is a recent blog post about e-books.)

Know our mission

I was talking to a new author today and I realized that I don’t outline our mission clearly enough. It is a lofty one, full of the need for more stories being told that will help our readers understand the life around us better. The authors I publish have all helped me to gain things I might not have even known I needed. Paul Graham’s book, Eating Vegan in Vegas helped me to become a vegan. Mickey Z.’s first book with us, Occupy this Book helped me to understand how to be an advocate and activist while his second book, Occupy These Photos was an eye opening series of photos showing activists at work from OWS to the #BlackLivesMatter demonstrations in NYC.

Coming Attractions

It is not seemly, some say, for a publisher to sell her own books through her company. My answer to that is simple: Who cares? The latest volume of the Scags Series, Scags at 30, will be out in May. (You can learn more about the earlier volumes here.)

Look to April for the Third Edition of Eating Vegan in Vegas. This latest edition will be a guide to vegan restaurants in Las Vegas but more than that it will be a resource for all visitors to Las Vegas who want to know what is going on in the Animal Rights community, how the environmental movement is shaping up in Las Vegas, where to go to find the artists and those working to help spread the word about a plant-based life in Las Vegas.

Starting a new poetry series, too

I had a vision in West Virginia of the sort of poetry books that SSP could publish. I know we now have the capacity, through our distributor, INScribe Digital, to make available both e-books and bound books that could have text as well as full-color photos in them. I had been thinking about Liza Charlesworth’s poetry and her photographs for a long time.

Out of these visions and memories, a new hybrid poetry book was born. Liza’s book, Why Happiness Makes Me Nervous, uses text as a trunk for her lyrical narrative of a girl growing into the world and uses photographs as visual poems that expose another set of emotional experiences similar to leaves on a tree that come out of the trunk, her poems. This will be a book to linger within for hours. Whether bought as an e-book or a bound book, it will be a beautiful addition to what we refer to as poetry but as a new hybrid form.Liza’s book will be out in April, in time for National Poetry Month.

Send good wishes, support and your money

SSP is in need of your support as we begin this new year with new books, new authors, new ways of producing books (which I will describe more fully in another blog post) and our continued commitment to see publishing as a creative act.

GoFundMe will gladly take your payments for next year’s work. Thanks in advance.

I Choose Every Book I Publish

No slush pile, no agents calling me up, no advances, no time spent reading manuscripts because the books I publish have not yet been written.This is a very risky way to publish but it is also the most creative way.

New ideas and new authors

It is also a very exciting way to publish. Each and every book becomes, in a way, a shared project and I am aware of how all the decisions were made.

Occupy This Book

When I learned about all the books that Mickey Z. had published, I went to the bookstores and began looking at his body of work. Then I read his blogs and articles. Then I went to his talks and watched him as he shared vital information and created teaching forums, all with a great deal of laughter and good cheer. To me, this all indicated he and I could work on a book together.

Screw ups and Missed Opportunities

I messaged Mickey on Facebook a few times but he kept telling me had a dentist’s appointment and could not meet. I backed off because I knew my wife and I would be leaving town soon and badgering someone to write for the press didn’t work anyway.

When we returned from our summer tour, I began the same process again, reading what Mickey wrote, going to hear him talk and then making myself known.

Eventually we sat down to talk at a restaurant in Astoria. It was a beautiful fall day, the weather was warm and we had the first of our 5-hour lunches. Talking to Mickey helped me to understand what kind of book he and I could put together and he, as always, was full of creative suggestions and ways to make these ideas happen.

For example, he was worried about Occupy this Book being too text heavy. He thought it needed to be opened up, so he had me reach out to a cartoonist, Rick Cole, who had worked with him on another book and Rick agreed to do the ‘toons for Mickey’s book and to draw the cover image.

Structure, Form and Titles

Mickey is a fast worker. He always asks for a deadline and then he beats the deadline by days. But I also wanted someone to write a Foreword for his book and I had no ideas at the time who that could be. Mickey reached out to his good friend, Cindy Sheehan, and she gladly sent us a wonderful Foreword with a great tag line that we have used to promote the book: “It’s a pleasure to be in the struggle with Mickey Z.”

It was a pleasure to struggle with Mickey to figure out the best ways to organize the text, where to put Rick’s ‘toons and how to title the book.

Occupy this Book, when it was finished, was all that I had hoped Mickey would produce. He was at ease on the page, teaching and sharing experiences, creating a format that was almost like a self-help book but was so much more. Every page, he encouraged activism in ways that matched precisely the talks he gave and the blogs he wrote–aware of the importance of being an activist and at the same time, aware of the amount of self-criticism and self-care that are required to make this a life time’s work.

It is a pleasure to be Mickey Z.’s publisher.

For more information on where to buy Mickey’s books (Occupy this Book and Occupy These Photos, both published by Sullivan Street Press) go to this link.

E-Books for Every Occasion and Reader

Sullivan Street Press began life as an e-book only publisher. Caught up in the excitement of a new publishing paradigm that would allow for a democraticization of the publishing process, the company and I began to test out new ideas for ways that all writers and readers could benefit from this marvelous technology.

I began my publishing career in 1978 and learned how to produce bound books at my first job for a now defunct publishing company that was more interested in creative financing than was healthy for them.  Yet, their creative ways allowed them to publish translated works of real value that would not have seen an American audience or been found on bookstore shelves because of the ways in which the business was structured in those days.

Fast forward to the 1990s when major publishers were not open at all to the idea of e-books or what they were in those days, pdf files on your desktop. An inventive and far-sighted publisher was put out of business by the major publishers for daring to suggest that out of print books, in other words, books no publisher was interested in any longer, might find a new market in the digital realm of our computer screens. But, as I said, this individual was driven out of business and litigated to death over a format that we now all find old fashioned, yet was the very format that Barnes & Noble used in their early versions of the NOOK.

Today, we read constantly that e-books aren’t doing as well as the predictions of analysts who seem to be more concerned with turning profits than reading books. Yet, one company has been allowed to post deficits for years, until just this year in fact, because Amazon of all the players in the e-book world has not been tech adverse in its business model. Its business model is based on a much deeper understanding of the technical world in which we live (with the attendant bad and good that means) and has profited from the sale of e-books in ways that publishers never can. It takes a moment to understand why Amazon has invested so much money in their book business.

If you stop for a moment and think more about what it is that Amazon knows about you, you will begin to comprehend just how their business is predicated on being a one-stop purveyor of all things you need. Over the 2 decades that they have been in business, Amazon has been collecting data on all its customers and creating a data bank that allows them to know how to sell almost anything we want. No one except them has access to this data, oh, except the government of course, and even publishers who could do a much better business if they had this information are not allowed access to it.

Their technology for e-books, which is theirs alone, no other e-tailer can use or does use the proprietary software that Amazon designed for the e-books that they distribute (Mobi) and while we are speaking of their unique practices, you also don’t own the e-books you download onto the Kindle, they do. And at any time they can delete it from your devices.

Yet, for all these problems and the complicated history of how we arrived at this moment of e-books and their place in our libraries, I am still a huge fan of them for practical reasons (I can take a library with me when I travel and I travel a lot) and I think environmentally, we stand a better chance of preserving the resources we have, given though that we understand what resources are necessary to manufacture our devices and how they are obtained. (I will write further about this issue in coming posts.)

We are all called upon to take seriously our libraries and bookstores, to support the writers and publishers who are producing the literature we need to make better choices and to lead more informed lives. Books are treasured by so many for these reasons but also because within the process of reading them, we are transformed as the writer who wrote them was also transformed in the process of building those stories and finding the words to say exactly what she meant to say.

E-books aren’t as some would like you to believe all that cheap to produce. The same, very same, efforts to make the text the best it can be is necessary for both bound and e-books. What is different is that e-books can be produced more quickly and made available across a variety of markets in ways that bound books cannot be.

Ride the wave of e-books and experience the freedom to read anywhere at any time almost any book you want to read. Share almost all content with your friends, quote it directly into your emails, your FB page, onto a Twitter post, however the words move you to share them; that too is your new ability given the ways in which e-books are formated.

All the books I publish are available as e-books and you can find out all about them here.

Road Trip in Fall–Books at a Discount

A Page from Occupy These Photos

We are leaving for Toronto, Dublin, London and Reyjavik and will be gone for 3 weeks. I feel grateful as hell to be able to travel as much as we do. (Don’t ask me where we will be going next because it is really a goodly amount over the next year.)

While we are away, Sullivan Street Press carries on its mission by sharing with you a number of promotions to help get the books out to more and more readers.

I often think of the books we publish as events, events that keep on going, whether the books are being created, produced, launched or available. No matter where they appear on that time line, they are alive, living happenings of ideas, words, pictures and responses that can’t be stopped. The real perpetual motion machines of our lives–books.

This weekend we are having an e-book promotion of our 4 books that were published before 2015–Scags at 7, Scags at 18, Eating Vegan in Vegas and Occupy this Book. They are on sale at Kobo for $4.99. I urge you to download the Kobo free reading app and put it on your device. That way you can take advantage of this sale. (Plus, to me, Kobo is the one e-tailer who understands the value of the independent bookstore and works with them as much as possible. This is another way to read e-books and not undercut the bookstores.)

Over the month of November, all our e-books will be discounted by 35% to libraries in the US. That means that if you go to your library and request our e-books, and please tell the library that the e-books are being discounted, we can take advantage of having more of our e-books filter through the library systems all across the country. You will be fostering more events that will help others to discover what Sullivan Street Press publishes.

Finally, we just launched a new book, Occupy These Photos. Another addition to the growing body of work by Mickey Z. This new title is a photo collection of Mickey’s eye roaming the city from the time of #OccupyWallStreet to #BlackLivesMatter. With a moving Foreword by Cecily MacMillan on the power of the witnessing eye to those harassed  and targeted by the police during times of political actions, Mickey’s book should be essential reading and meditating for those who want to both understand and participate in the changes we need to see at all levels of our shared lives right now.

This post calls attention to the work we have done so far and doesn’t speak to the work that will be happening. More events, more ways to connect with readers and to share visions and ideas and photos and stories in ways we intend to be indispensable to the community. Thanks for all the support you show us.

#DemandCreatesSupply: Your Help Needed

A Page from Occupy These Photos

SullivanStPress is on the march until we can get Amazon and B&N to carry the beautiful print version of Mickey Z.’s new book, Occupy These Photos.

You can help speed up that day by going to the Amazon and B&N websites and placing Occupy These Photos on your wishlist.

Good corporate operatives that they are, they will respond to an ever growing demand for this title because as our new hashtag campaign makes clear #DemandCreatesSupply.

This campaign to get Mickey’s book on the corporate radar so that they will add it to their virtual shelves has reminded me of two things. I love being a publisher. That job allows me to wander the world asking myself what else would make a great book and how can I help bring that book to life? The second thing I am aware of is how much I also love to write. I am finishing Scags at 30 and want to have the focus it takes to complete my novel.

Saving SullivanStPress right now is an even greater need. The mission is the same: To change the publishing paradigm.

My needs are the same: To have a company that won’t abandon my writing (or anyone else’s) because times are hard.

Publishing and writing can feel like mutually exclusive activities. But without both in my life, I would feel rudderless. Asking you, and your friends and family, to take up our cause of putting Mickey’s beautiful new book on the virtual shelves of Amazon and B&N, is a worthy use of anyone’s time.

People talk about Banned Books. What about books that are flat out refused to be stocked? The only time our book pages should read “temporarily out of stock” on Amazon or B&N’s websites should be because they can’t keep up with demand.

Please join our campaign #DemandCreatesSupply today and share this vital work with all who love to read and want to see fair and equal treatment extended to all publishers, large and small.

Join us on Facebook to share your thoughts about this campaign.