Wow, so who knew that such a tiny little disclosure at the CCLaP website last Friday would generate so much email; the disclosure, that is, that Chicago author Ben Tanzer's latest work is currently being considered for CCLaP's upcoming publishing program, slated to start in spring 2008. I've gotten just an overwhelming amount of emails in the last 48 hours concerning this innocuous little statement, with dozens of people asking if I might slip them the details since I obviously don't want to talk about it in public. Hey, I'm happy to talk about it in public! I just didn't realize that many people were interested, seriously! Here below are all the details you need to know about CCLaP's upcoming publishing program, no matter if you're a writer or editor or agent or printing plant (all of whom I've gotten letters from in the last 48 hours...sheesh); and of course if you're not interested, do feel free at this point to skip right ahead to the next entry.
So to start with, let's acknowledge that the way CCLaP is being run right now is actually according to the third business plan I've come up with for the center; I came up with similar plans as well in 2006 (version 2) and 2005 (version 1), both of which were larger in financial scope than the current plan (version 3), neither of which I could raise the money needed ($5,000 in the case of plan 2, a whopping $50,000 in startup money for plan 1). The long-term plan for CCLaP, in fact, still remains the original vision I had when first coming up with a larger and more grandiose business plan; to eventually own a permanent physical space in Chicago, where I can maintain a series of rooms equaling two thousand square feet, and use them for a series of recordings and live events and publishing projects and classes and neighborhood social clubs. I know it's a little confusing to some, given what I concentrate on at this particular moment with the CCLaP website, but ultimately CCLaP really is designed to be an organization that produces a lot of original work by daring and cutting-edge underground artists, not a group that mostly critiques and rates such underground work like is mostly being done right now.
Part of these plans, of course, is to start up a publishing program here at CCLaP, as soon as I can possibly afford it; for those who don't know, in fact, this is a big part of my professional background, in that I've been a basement publisher since the early 1980s when I was part of the punk/zine scene here in the Midwest. I eventually want CCLaP's publishing wing, in fact, to be pumping out the same amount of great content as any other small press that's out there; hopefully at least a dozen full-length paper books a year by just a decade from now, generating hopefully at that point a full third of CCLaP's entire yearly budget. But I can't start up such publishing plans right now, because of not being able at this point to raise the revenue and resources needed to do such a thing; and that's why I'm planning instead on starting up CCLaP's publishing program as an electronic-only one this spring, in preparation for printing the center's first full-length paper book in summer 2008.
It's no secret, after all, that I'm a big fan of penny dreadfuls and other serial publishing projects; and it's no secret that I've been a lay-specialist in electronic publishing for the last couple of decades now as well. As long as I'm in such a situation I'm in right now, I figure, where I simply need to turn to electronic publishing first to establish what it is that I'm trying to do, then why not try to run such a program in as smart and as unexpected a way as possible? That's where CCLaP's publishing program stands right now; as something I theoretically want to start in March or April of next year, by twice a month releasing some really, really, really, really excellent new story or novella or serial project that all of you will download (versus reading here at the site), and take with you into the daily world you live in when you're actually away from your computer-ball-and-chain. This I think is the thing I can do right now which is the closest to actually publishing in paper; a sense of connection, a sense of intimacy, a sense of continuance, a sense of permanency. When the chapters and stories of CCLaP's publishing program get released through PDFs and PDBs and LITs and all the laserprinted paper copies that come afterwards, I like to think that the act of all of you carrying those stories off into the physical worlds you inhabit beyond your offices and dens will make a real difference, not only as a publisher but as an audience member. I like to think that the work CCLaP puts out under such a system will be a little special for all of you, or at least a little more special than simply reading a story at a website, that our stories will feel more like a paper novel tucked under an arm on a bus (or read on the fly while sitting on a toilet) than most electronic literature does.
As mentioned, I'm hoping that doing such a thing starting next spring will get a lot more of you understanding what I want to be doing with the paper-publishing plans of CCLaP; and that this will convince more and more of you to jump in and support CCLaP's paper-publishing plans as next spring rolls around, to the point where I'll be able to save up about a thousand dollars and finally have enough money to sign the center's first official novelist and publish our first official full-length novel. But before then, like I mentioned above, I do hope to publish a series of electronic manuscripts at the CCLaP site; and yes, this is where all of you come in who have been sending me emails of professional interest out of the blue over the last couple of days! Yes, I am looking for unpublished creative writers; yes, I am looking for young and maverick editors who want to help shape this material. I am looking right now not only for writers themselves, but also proofers and copy-editors and futurists and others who have big ideas about what's coming next in the publishing world. I accept work directly from writers themselves, and I also accept work being pitched by agents; I accept both paper copies of manuscripts and electronic copies, although of course in both cases I also appreciate a query letter coming with it, giving me a good overall sense in two pages what the entire project is about.
Is it wrong of me to be so exacting and so specific, when it comes to what I want to publish through CCLaP's electronic publishing program? It's free, after all; there's a big part of me, frankly, that wonders why I would put any editorial limits on such a program to begin with, given that I'm not going to actually spend any money to put out the works being mentioned. But then I quickly realized, that going into a CCLaP publishing plan under such a mindset would ultimately be a slap in the face to the typical reader here; that the one thing I like to think that I promise all of you who come by is as intelligent an environment as I can possibly put together, no matter what it is that I'm talking about, and that this shouldn't deviate just because I'm suddenly talking about downloadable PDFs instead of the typical website entries usually found here.
So yes, to the 20 or so writers I've heard from in the last 48 hours; do please send me your work, although I appreciate you sending not only the full story but also a one/two-page synopsis of what I'm about to read, and why I should bother sticking through it to the last page. (So in other words; yes, do please sell yourself in your query letter to me; I think this is one of the most important things about a query letter, in fact, is how much you can get me excited about your story before I even start.) And yes, to the four or five really smart and interesting editors who have contacted me in the last 48 hours; if you'd like to be a part of helping me decide which stories to pick, and if you'd like to be a part of actually editing and shaping these stories, and if you'd like a part of actually shaping CCLaP's overall editorial policy (especially if you live in Chicago itself), do please drop me a line too. I didn't mean for this to feel like I was withholding information from anyone; seriously, like I said, it ultimately boils down to the fact that I didn't realize how many people out there would actually be interested in the subject. I loved hearing from each and every one of you this weekend; I hope that all the rest of you who didn't decide to send in an email will now do so next week! I love hearing from all of you! No, dude, seriously, I do! I do!