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/

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.

The Best Way to Support SSP

It is now close to Christmas and everyone asks you for money and support. SSP is no different but the pitch is different and better. Why? Because we aren’t asking you to spend any money.

Ask your library to buy our books

You read that correctly. Don’t spend a dime, but ask your library to spend the money it has to buy e-books and paperbacks and make sure that they buy the books that Sullivan Street Press publishes.

A big sale is going on right now

All our books are now on sale to libraries. They can buy them for 35% off.When you go into your library with the list of titles published by SSP, you are actually going in and saving them money.

Not a way to undercut bookstores

I know you are thinking that. Your mind is saying right now: If I go to the library and ask them to buy a book written by Mickey Z. or Deborah Emin or Paul Graham, I am hurting my bookstore. But you are not.

What you are doing is helping this publishing company to get its books into more hands than just yours. If you like any of our books, your trip to the library is a gift to this publishing company and to the authors we publish. If all the people who like our books went to their library and asked for the books to be on the shelves or available for digital download, this company and many other small publishers would be financially viable and able to publish more books and put into readers hands many more stories about this world that need to be told.

You could never buy as many copies of our books as the libraries can

Simple math, my friends. Think about it this way too. I can ask each of you to buy a book. I could even ask you to also contribute to our GoFundMe account. But with one visit to the library, you could order all of our books, not spend one penny and make sure that all of our books can be read and enjoyed by your entire community. How many times do appeals for help come this wrapped up with ease and sharing?

Thank you to all of you who will take me up on this project.

Here are the books, with their ISBNs, which the librarian will need to order the books. And if you are asked if our books are available for library purchase, say yes, and say by Baker & Taylor, OverDrive, 3M, and EBSCO. Your librarian will think you are very smart.

Occupy These Photos, by Mickey Z.//e-book ISBN: 978-0-9819428-9-6 Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9963491-0-9

Occupy this Book, by Mickey Z.//e-book ISBN: 978-0-9819428-4-1 Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9819428-1-0

Eating Vegan in Vegas, Second Edition, by Paul Graham//e-book ISBN: 978-0-9819428-5-8///Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9819428-2-7

Scags at 7, by Deborah Emin//e-book ISBN: 978-0-9819428-6-5  Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9819428-0-3

Scags at 18, by Deborah Emin//e-book ISBN: 978-0-9819428-8-9 Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9819428-7-2

#Vegan Thanksgiving: More Thanks

We are a mere two days away from Thanksgiving and it appears that there is way too much for Sullivan Street Press to be thankful for to be expressed all in one blog post. I am definitely thankful that the press has had the opportunity to publish books on being vegan, Eating Vegan in Vegas, and that we are working on its third edition, due to launch in Las Vegas during the Vegas VegFest.

Authors Teaching Publisher

I am grateful to the authors who entrust their books to Sullivan Street Press and want to share with the world their ideas whether they are about what it is like to be a vegan in Las Vegas, meaning a big shout out to Paul Graham. Or an also big hug of gratitude to Mickey Z. for his two books, Occupy this Book and Occupy These Photos. Working on Mickey’s books has been a joy and the look of each book has made me very proud of the quality of the books Sullivan Street Press publishes. I have learned a great deal from both these authors. Paul, in a way, led me to being a vegan and that led me to search out vegans in NYC and see what they were up to which led directly to Mickey and his fascinating talks at cafes, at rallies and that led to the books.

Publisher Meets Incredible Chef

As a publisher, I walk into all kinds of situations to meet new people and learn from them what they are doing. In a similar fashion, I met Laura Theodore, to many known as the Jazzy Vegetarian.  Laura has graciously supplied recipes from her new book, Vegan-Ease to this #vegan blog. I am thankful for the ways in which Laura supports the work Sullivan Street Press does and so, I share with you a favorite recipe of hers:

Spinach-Tomato Vegan Omelet
Makes 2 servings / Ease Factor 3

I tried for years to create a tasty vegan omelet, so I was super excited when I came up with this oven-baked version. Because a tofu-based omelet is more delicate than the classic egg version, I have developed a jazzy method for helping it to stay together when serving. It takes a little bit of extra fuss, but is well worth the effort.
TOMATO LAYER
2 medium tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Several grinds of freshly ground pepper
SPINACH LAYER
5 to 6 cups very lightly packed baby spinach, washed and dried
TOFU “EGG” LAYER
1 block (14 to 16 ounces) firm regular tofu
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
1⁄8 teaspoon smoked paprika
1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (for dusting top)
¼ cup shredded vegan cheese (optional)
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat with vegan margarine a heavy, ovenproof 10-inch round sauté pan or skillet with tight fitting lid.
Arrange the tomatoes in the prepared skillet by overlapping them slightly. Sprinkle the thyme, 1⁄4 teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper evenly over the top of the tomatoes. Top the tomato layer with all of the baby spinach, pressing it down slightly.
Put all of the tofu “egg” layer ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Spread the tofu mixture evenly over the spinach, smoothing the top as you go.

Dust the top of the tofu layer with the additional 1⁄4 teaspoon smoked paprika. Cover tightly and bake for 45 minutes. Put the pan on a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.
Carefully cut the omelet into two servings, by slicing down the middle. Gently lift one-half of the omelet out of the pan, using two very large, flat spatulas. Place it tomato side down onto a rimmed dinner plate. Place a second rimmed dinner plate of the same size firmly over top of the omelet and quickly flip it over to invert the omelet so the tomatoes will now be facing upward. Sprinkle the tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of the vegan cheese, if desired. Then, use the spatula to gently fold the omelet over. Proceed plating up the second half of the omelet in the same manner.
Spoon the sauce that remains in the bottom of the pan over each omelet. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. Serve warm.

Amount per serving, based on 2 servings: 188 Calories; 11g Fat; 2g Saturated fat; 21g Protein; 107mg Sodium; 7g Total Carbohydrate; 2g Sugars; 4g Fiber

 

Recipe from Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease, © 2015 Laura Theodore, reprinted by permission. You can follow Laura on Facebook and Twitter.

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.