Sunday, July 5, 2015

Independent Publishers: Thriving with Creative Visions

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By KAT GEORGES 
Co-Director, Three Rooms Press 

It’s a strange time in the world of publishing. The giant publishers continue to merge. Independent bookstores continue the struggle to keep their doors open. New technology has made it easy for authors to publish their own books. 

Yet, somehow, independent publishers are thriving. According to Jeff Herman, author of Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Agents, independent publishers make up half of the $29 billion annual revenue of the publishing world. 

Many small presses are well-known and quite successful, even with out-of-the-ordinary literary titles. Grove Press’ recent release of Helen McDonald’s fabulous memoir H Is For Hawk began with a print run of 5,000 and has sold a staggering 62,000 copies since its March release—a year before the paperback is due out. 

Other small presses are “micro” in their size—under twenty releases per year—yet “macro” in their enthusiasm and commitment to publishing the highest quality work. These micro presses are fueled by passion and commitment to a vision. Three Rooms Press featured five of these New York-based, fiercely independent publishers on July 3 at its third annual “That’s Independents!” celebration of small presses at Cornelia Street Cafe, and discussed the state of the industry with them. 


It’s All About the Vision 

If one thing unites the small presses, it is their dedication to their unique vision. 

For example, Great Weather for Media, which publishes solo poetry collections as well as a cross-genre annual anthology, is committed to “the unpredictable, the fearless, the bright , the dark, and the innovative,” according to co-founder Jane Ormerod. This vision is clearly visible in their most recent release, Debridement, a poetry collection by Corrina Bain, whose poems, as described by NEA fellow and poet Sam Sax “have no qualm reaching down your throat and pulling out your living heart just to say look at it, look. Look.” 

By contrast, the vision can be very broad in scope. Dustin Nelson, founder of InDigest, a magazine and book publisher focusing on “good story-telling in all forms and artists whose curiosity drives them to push beyond the conventions of their media,” incorporates digital work into their publishing scope. "We've published lots of stories and poems, but we've also published videos, GIFs, scripts, podcasts, audio stories, pamphlets, centos built from the Wikileaks Centos, broadsides, games, reviews, rants, diatribes, broadcasts about the apocalypse, memoir, we've told lies about Shakespeare and passed them off as truth, published round table discussions, and have always been open to doing anything that's been created that you can make an argument for calling literary." With so much potential variety, the publisher's role has greatly expanded. 


A Curatorial Role 

In an age where anyone can publish their own book, and the Big Five could publish everything else, small presses have had to find a way to continue make themselves necessary. While they lack the resources to match the six- to eight-figure advances of the major publishers (let alone four- to five-figure advances!), they have the advantage of being willing to take chances on unknown authors and new formats. Small presses have developed into a role of “curator”—presenting consistently high quality work from a variety of authors to an audience carefully cultivated over a number of years. 

Nelson from InDigest notes that “Publishers offer curation and a voice you can trust at a time when there’s so much available that sifting through it would be a full time job.” He adds, “Publishers are still a reader’s most valuable ally.” 

Ron Kolm, founder of The Unbearables—a publisher of “avant-garde writing that attacks the status quo by using the weapon of noir humor”—agrees with Nelson, noting that when independent publishers consistently produce high-quality, good-looking books, “a sort of trust develops between the press and potential buyers or readers . . . And in a world as out of focus as the one we live in, that is not a bad thing at all.” 


Okay, But How Do I Get Published By Them? 

With all this vision and curation, independent publishers might seem to be a perfect fit for all authors who consider themselves to be on the “cutting edge.” But every vision has its boundaries. So how does the aspiring writer hop onto the small press train? 

Start by reading the guidelines, Ormerod notes. “A 50,000 word story will not fit into an anthology. That 30 page epic poem is a ‘no’ as well. We understand the odd typo, but please review your work before sending it to us.” 

Research helps, adds Nelson. “Start a conversation . . . Start talking to people and read other presses. It’s often easiest to define something by figuring out what it’s not . . . . Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Watch TV. Have a beer. Make popcorn. Read again. Talk to a publisher. They don’t really know more than you . . . We all just like books, right?” 

And Kolm recommends networking. “We are very open; we add ‘members’ all the time,” he says. “All one really has to do is come to one of our readings and hang out. We like to drink in downtown bars, such as the Parkside Lounge and the Sidewalk Café, and occasionally, we even shoot pool! Chalk up your cue stick!” 

Three Rooms Press has been hosting annual celebrations of Independent Presses since 2010. According to co-director Peter Carlaftes, it’s a great way for authors to hear readers from a number of presses, and informally meet with them to discover more about what they’re looking for. For Three Rooms, the genre is less important than the style. “We’re publish cut-the-edge creations,” says Carlaftes. “Everything we do has a certain distinctive twist that makes it stand apart from other books in the field.” Forthcoming works include Meagan Brothers’ Weird Girl and What’s His Name, an LGBTQ young adult novel, and Aram Saroyan’s Still Night in L.A. a detective novel by the famed concrete poet. 

“We publish because we want to add fresh ideas to an increasingly homogenized world,” Carlaftes muses. “It’s our way of saving the planet.”

Friday, May 22, 2015

052015: Another Awesome Launch for Last Boat to Yokohama

The second launch celebration of LAST BOAT TO YOKOHAMA: The Life and Legacy of Beate Sirota Gordon was an extraordinary affair, set against the backdrop of ancient statues, paintings and tapestries of Himalayan Asia in the gorgeous Rubin Museum in the Chelsea area of Manhattan. 

Six speakers/performers included authors Nassrine Azimi and Michel Wasserman, Beate's son and daughter Nicole Gordon and Geoffrey Paul Gordon, Rubin Museum trustee Richard Lanier, and Japanese performance artist/dancer Eiko. The event was followed by a reception in the very cool Rubin cafe on the first floor, with authors signing books to the sounds of live Nepalese musicians. Enjoy the photos from the event!


Peter Carlaftes, Three Rooms Press co-director, introduces Last Boat to Yokohama.

Carlaftes continues his introduction,

Richard Lanier, Rubin Museum trustee, speaks.

Richard Lanier.

Author Nassrine Azimi explains how she became interested in Beate Sirota Gordon.

Author Nassrine Azimi shares a story of Beate.

Author Michel Wasserman explains his part in the project.

Michel Wasserman shares moments from the authors interviews with Beate.

Nicole Gordon, Beate's daughter, offers memories of her mother.

Nicole Gordon.

Japanese performance artist/dancer Eiko (of Eiko and Komo).

Niko's dance, performed for the first time.

Eiko concludes her dance.

Playwright/actor Geoffrey Paul Gordon, Beate's son.

Geoffrey Paul Gordon, Eiko, and Nicole Gordon.

Authors sign books following the presentation.

At the book signing.

Signing copies of LAST BOAT TO YOKOHAMA.

LAST BOAT TO YOKOHAMA authors Nassrine Azimi and Michel Wasserman.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What a Great Event!: Last Boat to Yokohama Inaugural Launch 5/19/15 at Cornelia Street Cafe

Amazing launch celebration last night for the extraordinary book LAST BOAT TO YOKOHAMA: The Life and Times of Beate Sirota Gordon. As a lifelong feminist, I'm very proud to have published this book about such an incredible woman! If you have never heard of her, start here. Then consider having a look at this wonderful new book on Amazon Many thanks to authors Nassrine Azimi and Michel Wasserman who traveled from Japan for this event. We're having a second launch tonight at The Rubin Museum. A few tickets are still left. Get them here.


Here are some photos from this moving and compelling event.

Last Boat to Yokohama authors Michel Wasserman and Nassrine Azimi 

Beate Sirota Gordon's daughter Nicole Gordon and son Geoffrey Paul Gordon

Nassrine Azimi, Nicole Gordon, Geoffrey Paul Gordon and Michel Wasserman

At the after party with Nassrine Azimi and Michel Wasserman

Author Nassrine Azimi explains how Beate Sirota Gordon inspired her.

Author Michel Wasserman discusses interviewing Beate Sirota Gordon for Last Boat to Yokohama.

Composer and musicologist Raphael Mostel shares personal memories of Beate Sirota Gordon.

Music archaeologist Allen Evans reveals how he uncovered original of famed classical pianist Leo Sirota, Beate's father.

Prominent attorney and teacher Nicole Gordon shares memories of her mother, Beate Sirota Gordon.

Three Rooms Press co-director Peter Carlaftes describes how Three Rooms Press became involved in publishing Last Boat to Yokohama.

Actor/playwright Geoffrey Paul Gordon reads a moving elegy to his mother, Beate from Last Boat to Yokohama



Sunday, May 17, 2015

5/17: Noir at the Bar--Dark City Lights Authors NYC Reading

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Shade Bar welcomes Three Rooms Press on Sunday May 17 @6pm with 9 contributors from the Noir anthology DARK CITY LIGHTS: New York Stories edited by famed mystery and detective author Lawrence Block. Readers include Jill Block, Tom Callahan, Jane Dentinger, Annette Meyers, Peter Hochstein, 3RP Co-Directors Peter Carlaftes, and Kat Georges, plus  Noir at the Bar host Thomas Pluck. There will be books available for purchase and a few to giveaway for lucky audience members in the bar. So come and here New York tales from DARK CITY LIGHTS

Admission is free. Shade Bar is located at 241 Sullivan Street on the SE corner of W. 3rd. Reading begins at 6pm. See you there!

5/20: LAST BOAT TO YOKOHAMA Launch Celebration at The Rubin Museum

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On Wednesday, May 20, at 6:30 pm, join Three Rooms Press as we celebrate the release of LAST BOAT TO YOKOHAMA: THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF BEATE SIROTA GORDON by Nassrine Azimi and Michel Wasserman, with a reading and Q&A in the galleries at the Rubin Museum. A book signing in the shop will follow the reading. 

In 1946, a remarkable woman secretly helped create Japan’s new constitution, writing an article that mandated equal rights for all women in Japan. Few could imagine that Article 24 was the work of a 22-year-old Vienna-born, naturalized American woman of Ukrainian-Jewish descent who had grown up in Japan. Her name was Beate Sirota, and to this day she remains an idol for generations of Japanese women. This extraordinary biography includes a foreword by Beate, an in-depth look at her father, the world-renowned classical pianist Leo Sirota, personal diaries from the World War II era by her mother, Augustine, as well as a detailed overview of Beate’s life, including the ongoing impact of her contributions to the Japanese constitution, as well as her personal impact on world ­culture fostered by four decades of dedication to introducing authentic dance, theater, and music of the Far East to American audiences. 

Speakers include: 
  • Nassrine Azimi, author, LAST BOAT TO YOKOHAMA; founder of the Green Legacy project 
  • Michel Wasserman, author, LAST BOAT TO YOKOHAMA; professor, College of International Relations, Ritsumeikan University 
  • Richard Lanier, founding trustee and president of the Asian Cultural Council; trustee, Rubin Museum 
  • Eiko Otake, performance artist (Eiko & Koma) 
  • Nicole Gordon, attorney and teacher; daughter of Beate Sirota Gordon 
  • Geoffrey Paul Gordon, playwright and actor; son of Beate Sirota Gordon 
Admission is $15. Tickets available on the Rubin Museum website.

High Praise for LAST BOAT TO YOKOHAMA and Beate Sirota Gordon

"All of us have a lot to learn from Beate Gordon—a woman with the courage to match her convictions." —Yoko Ono 

"An important book. Every woman on both sides of the Pacific should know about Beate Sirota Gordon and what she did for the women of Japan." —Martha Burk, Money Editor, Ms. Magazine; Director, Corporate Accountability Project, NCWO; Equal Time with Martha Burk, KSFR 

"LAST BOAT TO YOKOHAMA is a necessary addition to myriad of books written about World War II. It is complementary to Beate Sirota Gordon’s memoir The Only Woman in the Room and deserves a place in any school, public or personal library.” —Anne Lee, Shojo Power

"Anything about the remarkable Beate Gordon is interesting. And that's too mild an adjective.  Nassrine Azimi and Michel Wasserman continue this tradition in their splendid new book, LAST BOAT TO YOKOHAMA.  I was lucky enough to know Beate and my admiration for her is unlimited. You must get a copy for yourself. I will not lend mine." —Dick Cavett, talk show host, actor and writer 

"Beate Gordon was an amazing woman who was a pioneer in many ways. What she did as a woman in helping to create Japan’s new constitution is historic. She introduced to me Suzushi Hanayagi. We collaborated on 15 major works for opera and theatre. Suzushi changed my life. It was the wisdom of Beate to bring us together. Few women of the 20th century have had her courage and vision. She did in the 20th century what Admiral Perry did in the mid 19th century." —Robert Wilson, experimental theater director and playwright 

"An inspiring book about an inspiring woman." —Tommy Koh, Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore; and Chairperson, Water Leaders Summit 

"A fascinating book about an extraordinary woman." —BookPleasures 

“[Beate Gordon’s] contribution in drafting language about women's rights for the new constitution was instrumental in effecting significant cultural change.  Later, she would pursue a career in the performing arts in New York, where through her work at the Japan Society she brought the very essence of what was precious in Japanese culture and art to America. Read LAST BOAT TO YOKOHAMA and be inspired by her remarkable life." —Yo-Yo Ma, cellist

5/19: LAST BOAT TO YOKOHAMA Inaugural NYC Launch at Cornelia Street Cafe

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Three Rooms Press cordially invites you to attend the inaugural launch of the extraordinary biography LAST BOAT TO YOKOHAMA: THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF BEATE SIROTA GORDON, Tuesday, May 19, 6 pm, at Cornelia Street Cafe

The event will feature readings by authors Nassrine Azimi and Michel Wasserman, a special presentation by composer/musician and Beate associate Raphael Mostel, and readings by Nicole Gordon (attorney, teacher and Beate's daughter) and Geoffrey Paul Gordon (playwright, actor and Beate's son). Admission is $8, which includes a free beverage. Books will be available at the event for signing and purchase. 

In 1946, a remarkable woman secretly helped create Japan’s new constitution, writing an article that mandated equal rights for all women in Japan. Few could imagine that Article 24 was the work of a 22-year-old Vienna-born, naturalized American woman of Ukrainian-Jewish descent who had grown up in Japan. Her name was Beate Sirota, and to this day she remains an idol for generations of Japanese women. This extraordinary biography includes a foreword by Beate, an in-depth look at her father, the world-renowned classical pianist Leo Sirota, personal diaries from the World War II era by her mother, Augustine, as well as a detailed overview of Beate’s life, including the ongoing impact of her contributions to the Japanese constitution, as well as her personal impact on world ­culture fostered by four decades of dedication to introducing authentic dance, theater, and music of the Far East to American audiences.

High Praise for LAST BOAT TO YOKOHAMA and Beate Sirota Gordon

"All of us have a lot to learn from Beate Gordon—a woman with the courage to match her convictions." —Yoko Ono 

"An important book. Every woman on both sides of the Pacific should know about Beate Sirota Gordon and what she did for the women of Japan." —Martha Burk, Money Editor, Ms. Magazine; Director, Corporate Accountability Project, NCWO; Equal Time with Martha Burk, KSFR 

"Last Boat to Yokohama is a necessary addition to myriad of books written about World War II. It is complementary to Beate Sirota Gordon’s memoir The Only Woman in the Room and deserves a place in any school, public or personal library.” —Anne Lee, Shojo Power

"Anything about the remarkable Beate Gordon is interesting. And that's too mild an adjective.  Nassrine Azimi and Michel Wasserman continue this tradition in their splendid new book, LAST BOAT TO YOKOHAMA.  I was lucky enough to know Beate and my admiration for her is unlimited. You must get a copy for yourself. I will not lend mine." —Dick Cavett, talk show host, actor and writer 

"Beate Gordon was an amazing woman who was a pioneer in many ways. What she did as a woman in helping to create Japan’s new constitution is historic. She introduced to me Suzushi Hanayagi. We collaborated on 15 major works for opera and theatre. Suzushi changed my life. It was the wisdom of Beate to bring us together. Few women of the 20th century have had her courage and vision. She did in the 20th century what Admiral Perry did in the mid 19th century." —Robert Wilson, experimental theater director and playwright 

"An inspiring book about an inspiring woman." —Tommy Koh, Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore; and Chairperson, Water Leaders Summit 

"A fascinating book about an extraordinary woman." —BookPleasures 

“[Beate Gordon’s] contribution in drafting language about women's rights for the new constitution was instrumental in effecting significant cultural change.  Later, she would pursue a career in the performing arts in New York, where through her work at the Japan Society she brought the very essence of what was precious in Japanese culture and art to America. Read LAST BOAT TO YOKOHAMA and be inspired by her remarkable life." —Yo-Yo Ma, cellist 

For more information about this event or LAST BOAT TO YOKOHAMA, please email Three Rooms Press at info@threeroomspress.com

Sunday, February 22, 2015

02/23: Tickets still available for NYC Premiere of ANTI by Peter Carlaftes

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 Tickets are still available for Monday's NYC premiere of ANTI, a provocative, "joyously absurd" play by 3RP co-director Peter Carlaftes that examines life in an age of government surveillance. The play is being staged for one night only, Monday, February 23, 7pm at Barrow Street Theatre to celebrate the release of Carlaftes' latest book TEATROPHY: THREE MORE PLAYS. 

Critically-acclaimed playwright and author Carlaftes explores themes of identity in crisis with taut language and challenging characters, often fraught with underlying tension and unexpected outcomes. Renowned playwright and film director Israel Horovitz (My Old Lady, The Indian Takes the Bronx) calls the plays in TEATROPHY “Joyously absurd.” Playwright Michael Puzzo raves, “If Dr. Moreau fused the ungovernable souls of Beckett and Genet, he’d have created Peter Carlaftes. These plays read like bomb instructions to blow up the status quo.” 

The first play in the collection, ANTI receives it NYC premiere at the event. ANTI stars Eloise Eonnet*, Olivia Jampol, and Laura Betz and is directed by Kat Georges. In ANTI, Carlaftes explores a frightening future—in which government surveillance and data mining are the norm—through the eyes of a theater director on the verge of giving up hope. The Bay Guardian, claims ANTI “cries out Ultramodern—and that it delivers with unflinching scrutiny.” And SF Weekly raves, “Imagine Samuel Beckett staging Escape from New York as a futuristic romp among the cultural ruins.” 

TEATROPHY will be available at the event for purchase and author signing. The event is free. Doors open at 6:30 pm. One night only. Reservations are recommended, but not necessary. 

Additional info and reservations: info@threeroomspress.com or 212-731-0574. Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow Street (at 7th Ave.), New York, NY 10014.

TEATROPHY: THREE MORE PLAYS
celebrating the launch of the new book by Peter Carlaftes featuring live performance of the New York City premiere of

ANTI

a play by Peter Carlaftes
starring Eloise Eonnet*, Olivia Jampol and Laura Betz
directed by Kat Georges
Monday, Feb 23, 7 pm (doors open 6:30)
Barrow Street Theatre
27 Barrow Street @ 7th Ave., NYC
*Member, Actor’s Equity Association; Equity Approved Showcase.
For information on where to park near the venue, please go to: http://en.parkopedia.com/parking/underground/3_sheridan_square/10014/new_york/