Crash!

Delicious Cookies

Two things I love about my job:

-when David Wilson, our co-Creative Director, sends cover mock-ups;

-when we crash a title.

This week my lockdown was brightened, as both things happened. David sent us the most adorable cover for a book we just announced, and will publish in June:

The very cool verb for when you decide to publish a book quickly, and without the usual rigamarole required by distributors, media, and booksellers, is crash. We are crashing quite a few books this year. This is, actually, by design: I decided, late in 2019, that we should publish a half dozen or so books in addition to the ones we listed in our ‘official’ catalog. These would all be titles that have very niche core audiences—like a cookie table book, which celebrates a Mahoning Valley (Pittsburgh and Youngstown) tradition of having plates and plates of cookies at wedding receptions. The target readers for these books are folks we are able to reach easily, without sending out press releases to 500 some media folks, and another few hundred booksellers, as we do with our ‘official’ titles. This is the beauty of place-specific books, about a city or regional tradition. It cuts down on our publicity labor, and these books sell particularly well directly through our store, which, as longtime readers of this newsletter are sick of hearing about, is imperative to our sustainability.

We planned the cookie table cookbook back in January, as well another crash title we are publishing in May, Chicago Transit Hikes. We have a few more "planned surprise” titles queued up for the fall.

This decision, made back in Olden Tymes, was, obviously, fortunate, given [all this].

Even better, our ability to turn around titles quickly is leading to additional crash titles I have signed up since [all this]. This week I have been editing a manuscript about liberal arts colleges post-COVID which no one knows we are publishing yet (I’ll send you the link once it’s live!). And I am discussing possible new projects with a few other authors who have very timely ideas for books that address [all this], and that we could potentially publish as early as July.

It’s energizing, all this unplanned activity, and helps me cope with the continual present into which we are otherwise locked. It is also the foundational reason Belt Publishing exists: I wanted to publish one book as quickly as possible, back in 2012. Over the years, as we have sought to become more like the other publishing kids, we extended the time between contract signing and publication. I haven’t enjoyed that. I having more fun now. Plus, doesn’t that cookbook have the most adorable cover??

What I’m Reading: Leah Price’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Books. She’s so good; I’ve long admired her work, and have taken too long to crack this one open. Happy to be so doing now.

Shout Out: I have my eyes peeled for ways smart people have figured out how to McGyver our new normal. I adore Gavin Newsom’s idea to have the state pay restaurant workers to feed seniors.

Notes from a Small Press is a weekly newsletter by the founder and owner of Belt PublishingHelp support it by becoming a paid subscriber. Pre-order So You Want to Publish a Book?, a book based on the newsletter, publishing in July. Need some new cookie recipes?