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.

#Vegan Thanksgiving: New Recipe and a Reminder

Seitan Marinara with Bow Tie Pasta

Paul Graham advises his readers in Eating Vegan in Vegas to pay attention to the health reasons for becoming #vegan. Among the many resources he offers in his book is the website, Forks Over Knives. Here, one can find recipes and a supportive community of people also in the process of transitioning to a plant-based life. Thus, another thing to be thankful for at Thanksgiving time.

Being Vegan in an Omnivore’s World

It may seem crazy to many who are beginning this journey into a plant-based life that you even when traveling you can find travel all that you need. But you can and with some planning it can be a rather stress-free adventure. Having just returned from a trip that included the cities Niagara Falls, Toronto, Dublin, London and Reykjavik, I can report that with good planning and preparation of food to bring with us, we ate well and had all the nutrition we needed. Yes, the world is changing but there are always those holidays, Thanksgiving, unfortunately, is one of them, when the consumption of an animal is all that most people are thinking about no matter what city in the US you find yourself this season.

Not all vegans venturing out on Thanksgiving are going to find what it is they want to eat. So, these blog postings are offered in the spirit of trying to ease the journey while sharing resources and recipes.

Paul Graham’s groundbreaking experiment in Las Vegas, to blog for 365 days straight and to write about each vegan meal he ate, allowed many people to realize that even in a city that is known for its excesses, one can  be in a major vegan destination.

The third edition of Eating Vegan in Vegas will be launched in April, 2016 to coincide with the Vegas VegFest. The new edition will focus on the needs of a traveler–where to eat, what to do and what other community activities are happening in Las Vegas that may align with one’s own interests at home. For example, we will be including a chapter on the Animal Rights community in Las Vegas and the environmental activities that occur there. And much, much more. Paul Graham’s book has been an inspiration to me, his publisher, and I hope to carry this vision into other cities and areas of the US and beyond to help vegan travelers find the best places to eat, to buy food and to shop along with showing what the communities they are visiting are doing in the arts, what spiritual groups are up to and so on, so that if this is a place they travel to frequently, they can form relationships within these towns and cities and build the bridges Paul mentions we need to bring about a plant-based world.

Recipe for the Day from Laura Theodore

And now, as promised, here is a recipe from Laura Theodore’s kitchen, shared specifically with readers of this blog.

Seitan Marinara with Bow Tie Pasta
Makes 4 to 6 Servings

Big chunks of hearty seitan combined with meaty mushrooms makes this sauce a super satisfying choice for topping pasta of any kind. Celery adds delicious flavor without overwhelming this chunky sauce.

3 cups sliced celery, with leaves
1 onion, chopped
8 ounces cremini or white button mushrooms, chopped
2/3 cup filtered or spring water
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
½ teaspoon reduced-sodium tamari
1/8 heaping teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 ounces seitan, chopped or 8 ounces ground seitan
20 to 22 ounces vegan, low fat marinara sauce
1 pound tri-color or whole grain bow tie, fusilli or penne pasta

Put the celery, onion, 1/3 cup water, Italian seasoning, tamari, and crushed red pepper in a large skillet. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat for 16 to 18 minutes, or until the celery and onions have softened. Add the seitan, marinara and 1/3 cup water, Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the pasta. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but firm. Drain the pasta well.

Divide the pasta into each of four to six pasta bowls. Top with a generous portion of the seitan sauce. Serve hot.

Chef’s Note: Need to keep it gluten free? Just substitute your favorite variety of canned beans (drained and rinsed) for the seitan and use gluten free pasta.

Recipe is not from any of Laura Theodore’s books. However, I do recommend you check out her new book, Vegan-Ease, . And visit Laura on Facebook and follow her on Twitter for daily recipes and tips for serving delicious, plant-based meals.

#Vegan Thanksgiving: Visiting Portland, OR

Roasted Portobello Mushroom

One of the incredible lessons I have learned is that we can change the world one plate, one person, one city at a time.

Paul Graham is one of the great advocates for a plant-based life, not just changing a person’s diet but changing all aspects of life–the animals, our health, the environmental and the spiritual comprise what Paul deems the four pillars of the shift that will change the world.

Paul has inspired lots of people based on his blog that we then turned into the book, Eating Vegan in Vegas: If It Can Happen Here . . . It Can Happen Anywhere which you can learn more about here. Others are taking the message and the blogging to other cities and today we look at our colleague in Portland, Oregon, Kim Miles, who has sent us a recipe as well as a recommendation for a restaurant for Thanksgiving in her town. (You can follow Kim’s blog here.)

#Vegan Thanksgiving in Portland, OR

Kim reports, “When asked to suggest a great place to enjoy a fabulous vegan Thanksgiving dinner in Portland, I instantly thought of Portobello Vegan Trattoria. This well known and popular Portland restaurant will be offering a four course prix fixe Thanksgiving feast for $45 per person. (You can also call ahead and order take-home dinners for $25 per person.)

“The Thanksgiving Menu is on their website, and I’m hungry just looking at it. Start with Corn Bread with Maple Butter, Warm Olives with Citrus, Roast Pepper Stuffed Mushrooms, and then make your choices from the elegant options created just for this meal.

“Soup is Heirloom Squash Soup with Fried Parsnip and Pumpkin Seed Cracker. If you prefer salad, choose the Warm Roast Beet and Carrot with Hazelnuts, Maple Mustard Vinaigrette, Mixed Baby Greens, and Crouton.

“The main course offerings are Confit Delicata Squash with Chanterelles, Roast Chestnut, and Cannellini Cassoulet, or Roast Portobello with Fried Shallots, Savory Stuffing, Brussel Sprouts with Trumpet Mushroom Bacon and Cranberry Chutney.

“For dessert… Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chocolate Chili Crust, Candied Pepitas, and Chocolate Chili Sauce, or Apple Pie Crostada with Bourbon Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Salted Caramel Sauce and Candied Rosemary. They also serve beer, wine, and cocktails, and offer wine pairing, which I really appreciate. I love wine, but know nothing about it.

 As I’ve written about Portobello in the past, it’s absolutely one of my favorite places in Portland (or anywhere) for a truly extraordinary meal. If you can’t make it for Thanksgiving, visit them any time for dinner or Sunday Brunch. The vibe is special without being stuffy, and the food is always incredible. The menu changes seasonally, so there will be surprises every time you go.”

Kim Miles’ Roasted Red Pepper Bisque

Kim dreamed up this tasty soup that is great for Thanksgiving (or anytime at all) and I suggest you follow this link to get the full recipe and also to sign up to follow her blog. One of the most dedicated adherents to a plant-based life, her blog is full of more than just food. It is a wonderful place to visit and to learn from. Thank you, Kim Miles for sharing in our #Vegan Thanksgiving blog postings.

#VeganThanksgiving–It’s November!

from Vegan-Ease

When you think of Las Vegas, the first image you have in your mind is that of the Strip. . . The Strip is the main focus for over 38 million people who visit Las Vegas each year to see the town for business or pleasure.”

Sounds like the start of a thriller, doesn’t it? But it isn’t, it’s the beginning of Paul Graham’s excellent book, Eating Vegan in Vegas. The thrill has been publishing this book and sharing with millions of people the possibilities of vegan meals in a town no one ever thought would be one of the top ten destinations for vegan food in the US.

Now we are in November and looking at our next major holiday with all the attendant family, travel and food issues rolled into one. This is a time that can drive a vegan to despair or at least to questioning how to make it through this time of year with one’s vegan needs truly met.

Search no further for support, ideas and more.

Over the next few weeks, until it is Thanksgiving Day, we are going to make sure that you have some options, some recipes and some wise words from the man who began for Sullivan Street Press the Vegan Journey.

We’ve enlisted some other folks also working on making sure that these location-focused blogs can help you to find what you need to walk away from your Thanksgiving Dinner feeling “proteinated,” as a friend of mine said after leaving one of the vegan feasts my wife, Suzanne Pyrch, had cooked.

We’ll begin this blogging holiday adventure with a recipe from the Jazzy Vegetarian, Laura Theodore, taken from her new book, Vegan-Ease. Bringing a dish to your family or friends for Thanksgiving? Why not start thinking first about the dessert? After all, that is what I certainly make space for at these scrumptious meals.

Dessert, Please!

Pumpkin Spice Cheeze-Cake
Makes 8 to 10 servings

This delicate yet rich-tasting cake makes the perfect dessert for your festive Thanksgiving table or any winter holiday event. Creamy, smooth and oh-so-pumpkiny, this pie will surely become a tradition, year after year!

CRUST
1¾ cups cookie crumbs (ginger cookies work well)
¼ cup vegan margarine, melted

FILLING
2 tablespoons rolled oats
14 to 16 ounces firm regular tofu
1 can (about 16 ounces) unsweetened pumpkin purée
2⁄3 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice

TOPPING
3 tablespoons cookie crumbs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally coat a 10-inch round springform pan with vegan margarine.

To make the crust, put 13⁄4 cups cookie crumbs and the melted margarine in a medium-sized bowl and mix with a fork until well combined. Pat the crumbs firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes.
To make the filling, put the rolled oats in a blender and process into coarse crumbs. Add the tofu, pumpkin purée, brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon and allspice and process until smooth and creamy.
Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a wire rack. Cool for 15 minutes, then carefully run a table knife around the perimeter of the cake to ensure it does not stick to the side of the pan.
Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of cookie crumbs evenly over the top of the cake, gently pressing them into the top, so the crumbs adhere. Release the side of the springform pan to unmold.
Cover the cake very loosely and refrigerate 3 to 24 hours before serving. Covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator, leftover cheeze-cake will keep for about 2 days.

Recipe taken from Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease. Reproduced by kind permission of Laura Theodore. Visit Laura on Facebook and follow her on Twitter for daily recipes and tips for serving delicious, plant-based meals.

Amount per serving, based on 10 servings: 154 Calories; 7g Fat; 1g Saturated fat; 5g Protein; 62mg Sodium; 20g Total Carbohydrate; 15g Sugars; 2g Fiber

#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.

Sullivan Street Press Needs Your Help

I feel that anger that comes when I know we are in one of those David vs Goliath moments and there is no telling if we can stay afloat. Yet, we must.

Two weeks ago, Occupy These Photos, by Mickey Z. came out. It is available as an e-book or as a beautifully produced paperback. But Amazon and B&N have listed the paperback as “temporarily out of stock” since the date of its publication (9/8/15).

For small presses like this one to stay in business, our books need to be available, they need to be seen and to be purchased. We need our community to support us and they can’t if they can’t buy our books.

We are a small press. We are using a new distributor who is more determined sometimes than we are to see our books be available but even with that determination, Occupy These Photos, can’t be ordered from the Amazon or B&N websites.

We need the support of all those who believe in the wonders of small presses to produce books that are necessary for the survival of a literate culture and who also love books as much as we do.

Here’s how you can help us.

Go the Amazon and B&N websites and make a wish. Put Occupy These Photos on your wishlist. Let’s build up a demand for this book. Since Amazon and B&N are good capitalists, that will drive the engine that will break this deadlock and make Mickey Z.’s beautiful new book available to all.

There is nothing like making these behemoths bow down to the only power they respect–demand for a book, a large enough demand that they will not be able to ignore us.

Do it not just for Sullivan Street Press but for every small press that wants the corporate giants to treat small presses with the same respect they treat the larger presses. I truly thank you for this support.