April 16, 2013

The CCLaP Update: 16 April 2003

Wow, has it already been a crazy year for CCLaP, and we're not even done with April yet! Thanks to our new critics Travis Fortney and Yair Ben-Zvi (and of course old critic Karl Wolff), our new senior editors Sarah Bradford and Emily Jones (as well as assistant editors Robert O'Connor, Allegra Pusateri and Wesley Fairman), as well as our new marketing director Lori Hettler, things are humming along here behind the scenes at an unprecedented rate for us, so much so that I thought I'd start rounding up the news on a regular basis and sharing it all at once with you.

Historia, Historia, by Eleanor Stanford

The Kickstarter Letters, by David David Katzman

To start with, I'm happy to say that our two newest books, Eleanor Stanford's Historia, Historia and David David Katzman's The Kickstarter Letters, continue to rack up accolades and press mentions; the latest, for example, include Guiltless Reading, the Chicago Tribune (sorry, must sign up for free membership to see it), The Insatiable Booksluts, The Book Wheel, Peace Corps Writers Worldwide, and The Collagist, to say nothing of all the nice comments at the various social networks out there! It's a real treat to see our titles connecting with their audiences in such a powerful way, and we hope it keeps up as the year continues.

Women Float, by Maureen Foley

And speaking of which, we just recently finalized the cover art of our newest coming book, so I thought I'd share that as well; it's for a really delightful coming-of-age novella called Women Float by California author Maureen Foley, a perfect beach read for the coming summer and what I think is going to be hugely popular with people in terms of pure entertainment value. It's the story of a lonely 29-year-old lesbian baker in a sleepy small 'SoCal' town, who's grown up next to the beach her whole life yet doesn't know how to swim, because of a contentious childhood with a single mother who was a full-time surfer and who left her exactly twenty years previously; the novella itself, then, is about her taking swimming lessons for the first time, dealing with the unrequited crush she has on her New Age next-door neighbor, coping with her looming thirtieth birthday and the anniversary of her mother's disappearance, and learning the truth behind a series of mysterious postcards she keeps getting in the mail. Mo hates it when I refer to the book as "chick lit," and I understand why, but here I mean it in a good way -- it's a story that's going to intensely appeal to female readers in particular, all about adulthood and relationships and love and longing, which combined with its laid-back small-town coastal setting and tone makes for just such an incredibly charming and winning read, an emotionally satisfying experience that will have many people crying at the end. The cover art is by Mo's friend, Seattle photographer Katie Ward (and yes, relates to a very specific scene within the story itself); the book itself will be coming out sometime between May 20th and 27th, and we'll be getting a pre-order page up around May 1st.

CCLaP's new back cover wrappers

And then of course some of the most exciting news from behind the scenes recently has been something we haven't mentioned here at the blog yet at all; which is that for the first time in our history, we're expanding into retail bookstore sales in a big way, thanks almost exclusively to Lori now being with us and being able to devote a large chunk of her workday just to that and that alone. Regular readers know that so far, CCLaP has largely been avoiding bookstores altogether, because all the middleman cuts that come with that process is poisonous to the financial well-being of tiny little basement presses like ourselves; between the 40 percent of the cover price the bookstore keeps per sale, and the additional 20 percent the distributor keeps, it's nearly impossible to even break a profit until your combined sales nationally are in the thousands. But for the first time in CCLaP's history, I'm beginning to believe that we might actually be able to achieve such paper sales, when you add up every title in our entire catalog, and as always I feel there's a better way to do it than the standard method people have used without question now for a century; specifically, since we only have small quantities of books to ship at any given moment, we've decided to do without a distributor altogether, and are only working with bookstores who are willing to deal with us directly for their sales and payments (which to be clear, is a vast minority of them as of 2013). In return, then, we're hoping to build a tighter and more intimate relationship with this ad-hoc network of stores than the typical publisher/retailer relationship, and to make it especially easy for these stores to deal directly with us, instead of the usually easier option of buying most of their books through just a handful of orders at a handful of giant distributors; so for one example, we're creating a "one-click" option online for stores to order more books whenever they want, a process where they only get billed a month later but their books go into the mail the next day, and with the option to sell on consignment if they want, so that they don't have to pay us at all until a copy actually sells, and with free postage on our end for all orders. Then we're also going to be sending free promotional material to these stores on a regular basis, hopefully sending our authors out to regular live appearances at them, and writing up profiles of the stores and mentioning their upcoming events at our own blog on a regular basis. There's much more about this to come, and this update's getting too long as it is, so I won't detail out the existing network yet; but it's eight stores as of today, spanning already from the west to east coasts, with twice that number currently looking through sample copies of our books and making final decisions, and with it being very reasonable in my opinion that we might have a hundred stores in the network by this time next spring.

Anyway, lots more still to come -- we've got a whopping four more books coming out in the next two months besides just Women Float, plus the continuation finally of our weekly photographer features and our monthly magazine, plus lots of new acquisitions to share from our rapidly growing rare book collection, plus last fall's serial-fiction audiobook anthology A Podcast Dreadful finally coming to iTunes and DVD -- so I'll be getting more mentioned about all this stuff hopefully every Tuesday from now on, and in fact am also thinking of distributing it as an email newsletter (in that case, along with links to all the book reviews we've published at the blog that week -- as always, I'll share more news about this when it's available). Thanks as always for being a fan and supporter of the center, and I'm excited about all this new stuff I have to share with you over the next few months!

Filed by Jason Pettus at 6:29 PM, April 16, 2013. Filed under: Arts news | CCLaP Publishing | CCLaP news | Chicago news | Literature |