Viva Editions Author Spotlights

With the motto, "Books for Vivacious Living!", Viva Editions utilizes videos and blogs to promote their hot titles. Check out a couple of Viva Editions authors in action on YouTube and in the Blogosphere: The Frugal Foodie author Lara Starr talks recipes, tips on cooking, and about publishing with Viva Editions.

Visit the Frugal Foodie blog: http://frugalfoodiecookbook.blogspot.com

Nina Lesowitz, co-author of Living Life as a Thank You: The Transformative Power of Daily Gratitude shares her take on the mental and physical health benefits that can result from practicing gratitude in your life: http://www.vivaeditions.com/spotlight.php?spotlight_id=4

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Indie Groundbreaking Publisher

Cleis Press

Proving that (Really Good) Sex Sells

Cleis Press is a publishing survivor...and a publishing innovator. Celebrating 30 years in business this year, Cleis has survived while many of the lesbian, feminist, and gay presses that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s have gone under. One of the only houses still run by its founders, Cleis is now the largest independent queer publishing company in the United States.

The survivor persona is reflected by its first published book, Fight Back: Feminist Resistance to Male Violence (1981), by Frédérique Delacoste, who says it “set the tone for work we published for many years—resistance was a strong theme for us.” She and co-founder Felice Newman have worked together ever since, blending that determined attitude with good business sense, growing the company slowly and steadily.

“Of course, everyone has an opinion on what ‘growing the right way’ looks like,” says Newman. “For starters, I think it means not doubling production from one year to the next! We are growing, adding a few titles each year (now approaching 40 new titles per year). The same goes with our time and energy -- we want to be creative without overwhelming ourselves.”

“My strategy is to keep our growth in line with our cash flow,” she continues. “We do not have a bank line of credit. We have no debt beyond our printing bills, which we pay on time every month. If we can't reasonably expect our cash flow to cover a new project or campaign, we simply do not do it. And within those parameters, we find a lot of freedom and creativity -- there's a lot we can do without capital investment.”

Beyond their tenacity and frugality, what really makes Cleis Press special is literary excellence. “It is writing that ‘sings off the page’ that sets us apart,” says Associate Publisher, Brenda Knight. “Felice and Frédérique made that a requisite from the very beginnings of Cleis Press. Felice Newman has degrees in poetry, writing, and women's studies, and her academic bent has informed Cleis Press’s books from the beginning, creating literary erotica, which is ‘really hot’ books that are really well-written.”

“Our not-so-secret weapon is Frédérique Delacoste, who splits her time between the London and Berkeley offices. Her artistic eye and unbending demand for only the best photographs and interior design has helped achieve and then nurture a standard of excellence in the look and feel for our books.”

“My supposition would be that this is why we are doing well and flourishing, growing and hiring at a time when other publishers need to hold the line,” says Knight. “We are blessed to have the brightest stars in our stable of authors, like Richard Labonte, Violet Blue, Lori Bryant-Woolridge, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Alison Tyler, Paul Krassner, and James Lear.”

Here are new Cleis titles from each of those authors:

“Coming Out Erotica”
Edited by Richard Labonté

From the never-been-kissed to the most popular twink in town, this unique collection of coming-out tales celebrates first-time lust, first-time falling into bed, and first discovery of love.

Can't Help the Way That I Feel
“Sultry Stories of African American Love, Lust and Fantasy” Edited by Lori Bryant-Woolridge

Some temptations are just too tantalizing to ignore. Here is a collection of titillating stories, each exploring a delicious enticement.

The Mile High Club
“Plane Sex Stories” Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

This red-hot guide to getting it on at 30,000 feet will have you racing to the ticket counter so you, too, can join the club.

Best Women's Erotica 2010
“Ecstatic, heady, and heart-pounding thrills” Edited by Violet Blue

From the sparks between strangers to the knowing caresses of longtime lovers, the characters in these steamy stories revel in erotic adventure. 

Playing With Fire
“Taboo Erotica” Edited by Alison Tyler

Bestselling erotica editor Alison Tyler pushes the limits of sex, lust, and the imagination to new heights. In her own words, "Be it a flick of a Bic or the glowing embers of a bonfire, these stories will stoke anyone's fire." 

In Praise of Indecency
“Leading Investigative Satirist Sounds Off On Hypocrisy, Censorship and Free Censorship” by Paul Krassner

Counterculture warrior Paul Krassner writes the funniest, most intelligent social and political commentary. With biting wit and tongue firmly planted in cheek, Mr. Krassner reveals the life you've always wanted.

The Low Road
Kidnapped gets a gay makeover" by James Lear
This witty, hard-core picaresque novel is set in 18th-century Scotland against the dramatic backdrop of the Jacobite Rebellion.

More good things happening at Cleis
“Innovative initiatives and key relationships are important facets of our success,” continues Brenda Knight. “In April 2010, we are launching our SexIs Bookclub with Eden Fantasies, which is a marriage made in literary erotic heaven, and has already received international attention.”

“Our authors are an indefatigable bunch. Punk rocker Jon Ginoli went on a book tour to 75+ venues across the country. Stanford physician, Dr. Linda Hawes Clever, is doing a 40+ event tour in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Toronto, and New York. Some of our authors are media magnets, like Violet Blue, who has written for O Magazine, been on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and was voted a top “web-celeb” by Forbes magazine. Look out for more exciting news from her!”

“Our imprint, Viva Editions, was launched the month after the most recent stock market crash, at the very beginning of the Great Recession in 2008.

Viva has established a successful track record with good-selling books and wonderful authors. Self-help guru BJ Gallagher, media gadfly Nick Belardes, frugal foodie Lara Starr, and preeminent mythographer Phil Cousineau, as well as our runaway bestseller Living Life as a Thank You with 30,000 books sold and counting, comprise some our superior author class. Plus, we have a staff of dedicated, hard-working people who pull off miracles every day.”

According to Felice Newman, one of those miracle workers is Knight herself, who launched the Viva Editions imprint in her first year on the job, and has played a big part in keeping sales growing. In spite of the slumping economy, 2009 sales were up significantly over 2008 – allowing the company to move into spacious new offices in Berkeley at the start of this year.

So, Cleis Press marches on into the publishing future, proving two old adages: “Sex sells,” especially when it’s written and published well, and “the key to a great book is great storytelling.” Crack the cover of any of these books and you’ll be transported to the exotic world that Brenda Knight calls “Erotica Fantastica.”

* * * * *

Read more about Cleis Press, in this 25th Anniversary interview with founders Felice Newman and Frédérique Delacoste.


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