Just in case they happened to be flying under your radar, I asked Molly Gaudry, The Lit Pub's Founder and Creative Director, to give us a little history on how the publishing company and website found its way into the world:
Lit Pub Past & Present
The Lit Pub launched about a year ago, on June 1, 2011.
I envisioned it to be a new kind of publicity company; I wanted TLP to be a game changer in the social media arena. The website would be a place for ongoing conversations about great books; the “publicists” would each select a single book to feature—to discuss, analyze, promote—for an entire month; and the next month we’d go for it all over again, with new books. We were going to be like an online book-of-the-month club, and we were going to promote our features all over Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and anywhere else we might be heard.
But we quickly learned: after a week or two of writing multiple posts about a single book, new material is hard to force; we can all love a book and write about it, but the truth is we can probably say everything we need to say in a single post. Not to mention, when it comes to publicity, authors want the tried and true; they don’t want experiment, they want tradition.
So I went back to the drawing board. How to salvage the existing site and turn it into Lit Pub 2.0?
I re-launched the site in September 2011 with a much larger group of solicited contributors, and we began recommending a book a day. (This is now what we do continue to do on our blog, but anyone can submit a recommendation at any time. Our philosophy is: the more the merrier, so what are you waiting for? Submit!)
Still, this just didn’t feel right; it wasn’t quite enough. I didn’t want to be just another reviews site. And I didn’t want the constant pressure of always needing to manage and schedule a new recommendation every single day. (It takes about four hours with our site to post a single book recommendation, so add to that the time to solicit, review submissions, and manage the schedule, and this was turning into a full-time Monday-Saturday job—just to post a recommendation a day.)
Additionally, I don’t really know why, but, at that same time, I thought it would be a good idea to stock and sell all the books we were recommending. I trusted the contributors and believed that if they thought the book was worth buying and reading then other people would, too. And, actually, other people did! But it was an utter nightmare to be purchasing, warehousing, and coordinating order-fulfillment for all of those books, many of which I had never personally read. More importantly, it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing; it wasn’t what I was passionate about. So I returned all the books to their publishers and/or their distributors and/or took the loss, and began to think about Lit Pub 3.0. Mind you, this was only about four months in.
Conveniently, I was simultaneously worrying just then over my tiny little chapbook press, Cow Heavy Books. I thought the website needed updating, and I wanted to rebrand, to redesign the book covers, and rerelease all the sold-out titles. I was in the final stages of that redesign when it hit me. Why would I want to manage two brands? Why would I want to have two different companies? Why would I want two Twitter accounts, two Facebook pages, two sets of business cards, etc. And why couldn’t Lit Pub just take over and publish all the books? So I took another loss on all that wasted design for Cow Heavy, but emerged with a Lit Pub I was interested in again.
In February 2012, we went to AWP and released (and re-released) seven titles: Caitlin Horrocks’s 23 Months, Scott Garson’s American Gymnopedies, Miles Harvey’s The Drought, J. A. Tyler’s In Love With a Ghost, Ben Segal’s and Erinrose Mager’s The Official Catalog of the Library of Potential Literature, Aimee Bender’s The Third Elevator, and Kathy Fish’s Together We Can Bury It.
For that printing, I had decided on a certain book dimension, but we are currently redesigning all of the titles because I was unhappy with how they came out. I am considering all of those AWP copies limited editions. We’ll re-release all of those titles with their new, permanent dimensions and covers this fall, when we’ll also release (or re-release) Matt Bell’s How the Broken Lead the Blind and Andrea Kneeland’s the Birds & the Beasts, as well as a few other surprises.
Between now and then, we’re coming up on our first birthday, and to celebrate we’re hosting our first annual open reading period. We’re interested in full-length prose manuscripts—we want novels, novellas, memoirs, lyric essays, story collections, prose poems, flash collections. If it’s prose, we want to read it during the month of June. At least one winner will be selected for publication, and the book will release at AWP 2013 in Boston. If you have a manuscript you’d like us to consider during the month of June 2012, please submit here.
Nominated for the 2011 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry, Molly Gaudry is the author of the verse novel, , which was the second finalist for the 2011 Asian American Literary Award for Poetry. She has a prose poetry collection due out this fall from YesYes Books, titled , which includes companion collections by Bob Hicok and Phillip B. Williams, and she is currently completing a hybrid fairy tale retelling / memoir titled . In her past two years serving as a Personal Statements Specialist, she has successfully advised 20 applicants competing for national awards, including recipients of 9 Fulbrights, 8 Critical Language Scholarships, 1 Boren Award, 1 Truman Award, and a National Science Foundation Woman of the Year grant.