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Feb 22, 2006


Dan Wickett


With a book such as this, do you find yourself looking for more unique methods of developing publicity? Or, with the Coffee House Press list, is there really no such thing as a normal route to publicity development?

Has the book at all been marketed towards the mystery markets?

Dan Wickett


How large does that CHP slushpile get? Do you find more authors sending in unsolicited work have done a bit of research, as it sounds Kirstin did, or do you find yourself beginning a lot of manuscripts wondering if the author had ever opened up a CHP book?

Also, do you, as an editor, prefer to work with an author who is agented, or does that not matter at all to you?



Right now, I have a pile of about thirty manuscripts that I need to send back, all rejections, and I have a about seventy-five other full manuscripts that I need to read. Over the course of the year I get about three thousand submissions. About five percent are from agents.

In general, agents do not take on work that is too experimental, because they don't believe they can make money on it. So it's not that I care either way if an author has an agent, it's just that for the most part, experimental books by new emerging authors rarely have agents, so I work with agents less often that a lot of other editors do.

By far most of the submissions that I get are completely blind, where the author has done no or very little research. However, I can't think of a book that we've accepted where the author was not fully aware of and a fan of our list beforehand. They usually want us in particular to publish their work.



Our marketing/publicity strategy with Garner was pretty much the same as with our other books, but we did have the strong regional interest to work with. So, of course, we pursued the New Hamshire newspapers, New Hampshire Public Radio, and so on.

We certainly considered the mystery market, but after receiving feedback from a few mystery-oriented bookstores, decided not to pursue it.

We also didn't want to market it specifically as a mystery because than it would wind up on the genre shelves. And, at least in our experience, that's not the best place for Coffee House literary fiction.

Dan Wickett

Thanks both of you.

Chris, does CHP employ interns to do that initial blast through the 3000 or do they go straight to editors? Is CHP small enough that editors (or is it just editor?) make the final decision, or does it go through the whole major publisher ordeal of reading team, marketing, etc?

Lauren, I was especially curious in regards to mystery markets because of some of the comments from Ed Falco about Unbridled getting his Wolf Point into mystery stores and seemingly developing some more readers - though Ed did already have a toe dipped into the literary fiction market.


We would absolutely love to reach the mystery reading audience (this, of course, is not to say that mystery readers don't read all shapes and sorts of other things), but, as I said, an initial response to our attempt getting there through mystery bookstores put us off that idea. We want, as we do with all of our books, to reach the broadest audience possible and to keep expanding Garner's reach as we go.

I am really interested by Ed Falco's success in that arena. If Ed or any of the Unbridled folks are on today, I'd love to hear what you think!



I open up all the mail and do an initial screening. A lot gets rejected at that point, and some gets put into piles for interns to read. And everthing they read they either tell me about in person, or in a written manuscript report. So I at least see and decide on everything that comes through. And of course I do a lot of reading, too. But the final decision comes down to Allan Kornblum, our publisher. I bring books to him and he has to approve my acquisitions before they can proceed. But we agree on most everything, so it's usually not a big deal. But Allan also does some direct acquisitions, and he has a pool of authors that he has always worked with here.

Ed Falco

Hi Dan and Lauren,

First I'm happy for this chance to say that I'm a big fan of Coffee House Press and have been for years. They have always made beautiful books and they publish many writers I admire.

As for marketing Wolf Point as a mystery . . . Well, actually, Unbridled marketed as a "literary thriller," which is really quite a different thing. In the reviews, the novel is often called a thriller, but I don't think anyone called it a mystery. Even when Betty Webb reviewed it for Mystery Scene magazine, she didn't refer to the book as a mystery. She dealt with the book, it seemed to me, on its own terms rather than as a representative of a genre. I was happy to get a review in Mystery Scene, where Webb called Wolf Point a "troubling, brilliant book" (which is the kind of quote that keeps a writer warm through the coldest nights) and that only happened because Unbridled was willing to explore different ways to market the book. Really, though, I think we all missed the boat. What we should have done was market it as a . . . memoir! I could have talked to reporters about how harrowing it was to live through that long weekend, and, who knows, we might have made it to the best seller list . . .


caitlin hamilton summie

Hi all,

Just a note about the marketing of WOLF POINT...When we all read WOLF POINT, it was clear that as literary as the book is, it had real suspense in the telling. A reader truly isn't certain what will happen next, and one turns the pages with that suspense and tension lingering over every page. In my mind, as a huge fan of mysteries myself, this makes it the kind of read that crosses genres. The decision to market the book as a literary thriller seemed the best way to pull in those readers of Reverte and other literary mysteries as well as the general fiction fans, and I believe we did that and found new readers for Ed, as we will continue to do with the paperback this fall. But we never went with straight mystery as a category, for the same reasons Lauren cites. It will lead in the wrong readers possibly. So we marketed it, to the best of our ability, in what was kind of "cross-genre language," so to speak. We've had good luck with this approach in the past, at other companies, with the literary mystery category. But one does have to watch the line, and certainly it all depends on the book.

The New York Times called WOLF POINT "Hitcockian," which is so perfect I wish I'd thought of it! I mention this quote because I think that description in and of itself shows the breadth of the readership and how, in this case, with this title, the cross marketing worked for us.

I really look forward to reading GARNER, which sounds fascinating! Congratulations, Coffee House!

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