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Colleen Dunn Bates celebrates 10 years of Prospect Park Books

Looking for a small press that focuses on authors outside the mainstream? Look no further than Prospect Park Books, based in Pasadena, California. Celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, Prospect Park Books’ founder, publisher, and editor Colleen Dunn Bates writes about her experience and doles out some sound wisdom for Literary Hub in a post published November 8th.

The long game aspect of the business frustrated Bates, but has given her a new understanding of publishing and patience, especially the accompanying learning curve: “It takes years to build a backlist, to find and build relationships with talented authors, designers, and staff, and to learn how to make budgets and forecast sales with at least a shred of realism.” However, the love of books and authors drives Prospect Park to keep publishing truly remarkable books.

“We never would have had our #1 bestseller, the debut novel Helen of Pasadena, if I hadn’t said, impetuously, passionately, and (at the time) foolishly, ‘What the hell, let’s go for it!'” Helen of Pasadena follows a wife and mother from (you guessed it) Pasadena whose life changes when her cheating husband gets killed by a parade float. Prospect Park has also fostered a relationship with author Michelle Brafman. author of Bertrand Court and Washing the DeadBertrand Court gives a close-up view of life in a suburban cul-de-sac, while Washing the Dead  deals with a woman confronting her family’s past after her mother’s death. Says the Washington City Paper about Bertrand Court: “Subtle and convincing… Brafman’s book works best in the way these characters interconnect from story to story, maintaining the reader’s interest as a novel should.”

Prospect Park publishes fiction as well as gift and cookbooks; Little Flower Baking  is a perfect example of one of their excellent cookbooks, a baking cookbook that won the Southern California Independent Bookseller Award for Best Nonfiction and has Leite’s Culinaria raving about the plum crumble pie, “a mutant combo in the best possible way.” This is a great gift for the holidays!lfbaking_cover_small

What final piece of advice does Bates give about the small press world? “Every book is our baby, every author is our family member, and there will never be enough hours or dollars to do everything possible to make it succeed. But we try anyway. Because we cannot imagine doing anything else.”

Indeed.

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Literary Hub Features the Origins of Favorite Indie Presses

You just might have your favorite indie presses, but do you know their origin stories? Thanks to Literary Hub’s article on November 10, you can take a peek into the history of 21 presses, including Akashic Books, Coffee House Press, Copper Canyon Press, and Sarabande Books.

Akashic BoGoToSleepoks (eighteen years old) was originally an indie record label. As a change of pace, the three cofounders published  Arthur Nersesian’s novel The Fuck-Up. It was extremely succesful—it sold through three print runs—and paved the way for future successes. Check out Go the Fuck to Sleep, by Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortes, another one of Akashic’s biggest sellers: “we seem to do very well when we have the word ‘fuck’ in our book titles,” said managing editor Johanna Ingalls.

Coffee House Press, (forty-four years old), was originally launched as ToothpasteUprightBeasts Press after founder Alan Kornblum’s Toothpaste Magazine. The press’ first title, Tilt, was a mimeographed book and written by Kornblum’s pinball friend Dave Morice. For a recent Coffee House Press title, check out Upright Beasts by Lincoln Michel, a short story collection “full of monstrous surprises and eerie silences” according to Vanity Fair.

Copper DivinitySchoolCanyon Press (forty-two years old) first published Badlands, a poetry collection from Gerald Costanzo. The collected launched Copper Canyon Press and created their precedence of publishing extraordinary poetry. Check out Divinity School by Alicia Jo Rabins and C.D. Wright while you wait for Copper Canyon’s release of Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda, by Pablo Neruda and translated by Forrest Gander.

Sarabande Books (almost ten years old) published their first book in 1996, The Lord aSmotend the General Din of the World, by Jane Mead, which they found through their literary contest, the Kathryn A. Morton Poetry Prize. Publisher and founding editor Sarah Gorham said the book encompasses the press’ values: “the language was gorgeous and searingly honest. That fit nicely inside the idea of a Sarabande: elegant surface with a wild underside.” Read Smote by James Kimbrell for a taste of Sarabande Books’ current poetry aesthetic.

 

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