About this new venture, our business model, and how/why I am involved.
I am part owner and managing director of a new publishing venture called Lived Places Publishing. The goals and mission of this project align well with the work I’m doing in other aspects of my life:
- My activist project How to Survive Late Stage Capitalism (2022-present)
- My social justice not-for-profit Boston For All (2017-present)
- My grant-funded Songwriter Showcase Series (2022)
Lived Places Publishing is producing short (100- to 150-page) curriculum-ready course readings around urgent and necessary topics. They are organized into interdisciplinary collections, each led by a Collection Editor. Our books range from the autobiographical to the ethnographic, but they always center on the experience of social identity/identities and place/location. Each book is written with the advanced undergraduate student in mind, though many of our books are fit for a wider audience.
Our books cover a wide range of topics, with the aim of delivering myriad human perspectives to bolster the contemporary curriculum. Never has this need been more pressing as authoritarian voices and narratives of power are working hard to crowd out the variety of perspectives that build a tolerant and vibrant society.
For the reader, our intent is that these volumes exist in the “in-between” spaces: Not monographs/research that are too hard for students to parse. But also not popular/academic articles that are too short to go in-depth. Plugged into a course, these books should take up about a week or so. A guided view of an important issue or theme, a human-level view of stories that might be neglected (or misrepresented) in media coverage. In other words, not “just” history and big picture trends, but to show someone’s actual lived experience.
We are privately owned, so there are no outside interests influencing our decisions or governing our content. We welcome and encourage full expression, not watered down or sanitized stories.
We have launched 15 collections to date, including Black Studies, Disability Studies, Forced Migration Studies, Queer and LGBT+ Studies, Carceral Studies, and more. As of , we have over 100 books signed, with new titles launching monthly – and I expect us to sign 70 more over the next 12 months. Our authors and editors cover the globe, from UKI, New Zealand, India, Canada, Nigeria, Germany, United States, and beyond. Most of our authors are academics, though we are seeking the voices of activists, organizers, journalists, and other practitioners as well.
We have 25 universities so far who have purchased our first collection of 40 books, including Princeton, Georgetown, Northwestern, University of Texas, NYU, University of Toronto, McMaster, and Cambridge University.
Books with a Purpose
To understand the character of these books, here are some featured forthcoming titles:
- Stories of Black Female Identity in The Making: Queering the Love in Blackness by Kadian Pow
- The Limits of Progressive Criminal Legal System Reform in an Inequitable Society by Andrew Taylor
- Social Spaces for Older Queer Adults: A Guide for Social Workers by David Betts
- My Name Is: Is Your Name a Gift or a Burden? by Javeria Shah
- Music and Black Community in Segregated North Carolina Dr. Gregory Freeland
- Seeking Treatment While Black: Living with Multiple Stigmatized Identities by Kyaien O. Conner
- Creating Positive Change through Inclusive Classrooms by Sarah L. Schlessinger
- Displacement, (De)Segregation, and Dispossession by Rebecca Alexander
- My Precious Legacy: Slave Culture in the American South by Deirdre Foreman
- The Cost of Safety: Central American Young People Notions of Home by Mirna Carranza
Here are a few samples to show the range of formats our authors use (click “Look Inside”):
- Special Educational Needs and Disability in UK schools by Carrie Grant
- Imposed Identities in School: Experiences of Learners Classified as “Low Ability” by Javeria Shah
- Gifting Resilience: A Pandemic Study of Black Female Resistance by Linda Jean Hall
Publishing Process & Distribution
Most authors so far are working within a 4-6 month deadline, though we try to be flexible and allow it to fit it into real life. I’m doing the same thing, as are all of our Collection Editors – it has to fit in and around the other stuff in our lives. The production process is like any other publisher – professional copyediting and proofreading. Final product is traditional print books, with digital versions available like any other book.
These are not monographs or academic research, so we deploy peer review only when the topic matter needs it. There have certainly been instances so far, but probably fewer than 20% of our books in development require it. That being said, each Collection Editor works with their authors in a very hands-on way – so our authors aren’t alone in the process.
Once the book is published, we return an equitable share of each book sale to the authors, collection editors, and to supporting open access publishing:
- Author royalty rate is 20%; higher than industry standard
- Collection Editors earn 10% on every title published in the collection
- We allocate 5% of each sale to sustain open access publishing
Another key part of our model is offering affordable access to institutions through the university library. We expect 50%+ of our sales to be through academic library subscriptions. This should translate into more stable annual revenue (theoretically) for authors, collection editors, and partners. We have an API interface (launching in January) to make access plug-and-play from the university’s side, just like any other academic publisher.
We are also employing traditional sales staff to call on college administrators and department chairs in U.S., U.K. and Australia, and of course we have trade distribution channels (Amazon and all the majors) just like any independent publisher would handle it (print-on-demand, outsourced to distributors). We expect to enroll 200+ libraries in FY23, stretch goal = 400.
Links for more explication:
Mission | Model | Collections | Catalog
If you are interested in writing a book that fits our model – or you know someone who should write a book, please reach out directly. For more context, see our call for authors and download our proposal guidelines.
What About My Other Jobs?
I’m trying to find balance, but still need to work on that. Because in effect, I simply added this to the list of things I already do:
- Running my freelance media business, Control Mouse Media, LLC
- Teaching my course at Emerson College, Fundamentals of Content Strategy
- Writing, recording, and performing – and releasing new singles
- Putting on fundraising events with my not-for-profit, Boston For All
My goal is to have everything that I’m doing be mission-aligned. I see what’s happening in the world and I want to help – using the tools I have. My energy, my creativity, my experience, and my privilege.