“Publishing four to five fiction titles a year from debut writers, the press seeks to offer ‘a publishing experience that’s respectful to and even reverent of first-time authors.’ Cheuk wants the press, which is located in New York City, to avoid the pitfalls of both traditional publishing houses.”
“July 13 holds special importance for writer and publisher Leland Cheuk. Not only is it the day that, in 2014, he found out his life had been saved by a successful bone marrow transplant from a stranger, but it’s also the day that his first novel, The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong, was picked up by the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography. Two years later, on the same day, Thought Catalog sent him an offer for his first story collection, Letters From Dinosaurs. So when Cheuk decided to start his own small press in 2016, he didn’t hesitate to name it 7.13 Books (713books.com).”
“People call me a Whitener. It’s just a nickname. I don’t like it much. Inaccurate and reductive. My job is cultural—national, even—civic, perhaps. Definitely not racial.
My official title is Foreignness Engineer of the City Council of Commerce. I inspect newly opened businesses and provide their proprietors Customer Experience Recommendations (CERs) that ensure the correct balance between our citizens’ natural desire for foreignness and an experience native to what we all have come to expect from living in America.
Ever notice that, in The City, the most successful high-end restaurants have white servers and maître d’s even when the cuisine is ethnic? I started that. Ten years ago. There was a Vietnamese noodle shop run by Chinese immigrants, and I recommended that they hire whites to serve their customers and increase prices by eighty percent, and it quickly became one of the most popular restaurants in The City, even winning a Michelin star. Diners want to feel like they’re included in the familiar and dominant culture, and most importantly, they will pay for that feeling. Thanks to my little innovation, the CCC made it a standard CER to issue small fines to restaurateurs failing to hire Caucasians for at least 75% of their staff.
Back before it became an official city function, it was called gentrification.”
“Sated is the hottest new restaurant in The City, currying rave reviews from influential food publications and diners alike, not just for its food, which is personally prepared by internationally renowned chef and television host Juan Maures of the three Michelin-starred Maurade in San Sebastian, but also for its philanthropy. Sated donates one percent of each $2,500 reservation to Bread for Bairns, the UK-based humanitarian organization that dates back to the late-1800s when it was a Rhodesian division of the British South Africa Company. But Sated takes its dining experience even a step further. While eating, the diner can choose to watch his/her/their beneficiary dine live on a tablet.
“I was lucky enough to experience this myself (on The City Times company dime, of course), and for ten courses of Maures’s exquisite signature dishes such as duck confit a la orange, quail eggs that taste like salmon roe, and the sustainable and organic lemur en gelee, I watched Mebane, a seven-year-old boy from Dhaka eat a bowl of rice pudding, which he told me was his first meal of the week and was so plentiful that he almost immediately darted off-screen to use what appeared to be an outhouse.”
“Last year, Leland Cheuk, one of the editors of Newfound, wrote to me accepting one my short stories for publication. My story is dedicated to the New York Mills Art Cultural Center where I was an artist in residence in 2014. There, Leland was also an artist in residence in 2011. It was merely a beautiful coincidence. I was curious about my editor: I checked his website, read some of his interviews and I saw his picture. Leland lives in Brooklyn so do I. Another coincidence, I thought. Then, after I read Letters from Dinosaurs, his latest book I concluded with certainty, ‘this guy has a lot more in common with me than I thought.’ It was beyond my short story; it was beyond his experience at the NYM Cultural Center. Maybe, it is his keen observations and his characters in odd painful, situations that resembles my life. Sometimes, I feel that the opening story, ‘A Letter from a Dinosaur,’ is signed by my own brother to one of his children, or even worse I’m both the writer and the recipient. Leland, thank you for putting together this collection, and let me tell, you sometimes in the subway I looked around for you and I have probably seen you more than once in all of us.”
“Independent presses are a lifeline in the publishing world. At a time when large publishing houses are merging into even larger conglomerates, writers may feel like finding a home for their work requires a very specific, and at times corporate, mindset. But indies show that there’s another way. Via contests, open calls for submissions (for agented and unagented writers), and targeted requests, independent presses provide an alternate arena, making publishing more of a reality for marginalized artists and those with unique voices and writing styles. Plus, they’re getting more and more recognition. This year Graywolf Press had several titles as finalists or longlisted for the National Book Award. Paul Harding’s Pulitzer winning book Tinkers was published by a university aligned press (Bellevue Literary).
Rosalie Morales Kearns, Leland Cheuk, and Laura Stanfill are indie publishers seeking to add to the publishing landscape in unique ways that speak to their own experiences and beliefs. I spoke with them about the missions of their presses, the challenges they face, and what authors and publishers should take into account about the business.
Jennifer Baker: In a world full of presses, why did you decide to create yours and what stands out about it that you saw lacking in the marketplace?”