Caleb Mason of Portland began publishing digital fiction 18 months ago. His company, Publerati, is based at his home office on Munjoy Hill. He’s published a dozen novels, including a couple by Maine writers.
A traditional reader, Mason’s introduction to digital books grew out of convenience. He struggled with large volumes while traveling on planes, and concluded that the advantages of digital publishing – cost, portability and readability – outweigh the loss of tradition.
The company is growing steadily and slowly. Mason is not making his living with Publerati, but so far has satisfied his start-up goal of publishing “really good novels by really good writers. For me, it’s about artistic credibility. I’m really pleased that two of our first 12 novels have had advance blurbs from Pulitzer Prize-winning novelists. That makes me feel really good about the quality of our books.”
In addition, he’s landed a few good national reviews. The publishing industry treats Publerati seriously, and Mason is showing up in industry blogs.
The challenge remains bringing attention to the books to drive sales. It’s a crowded field, and difficult to draw notice.
Mason is working with a local bookstore to take advantage of on-demand publishing technology already in place so his authors can do in-person signings, which is a staple of traditional print publishing. People can meet the authors and take home a signed copy of the book, which can be printed in the store in minutes. He hopes to set up signings with two of his Maine authors, Ellen Cooney and Susan Sterling.
Cooney’s book, “Thanksgiving,” has gotten more attention from the traditional publishing industry than any other Publerati title. It’s an historical novel about many generations of family at the fall holiday.
Cooney, who lives in Phippsburg, associated with Publerati after failing to find a suitable print publisher for “Thanksgiving.” It is her eighth novel, and her first all-digital experience.
“My agent was having a tough time selling the manuscript,” she said. “One editor did love it, but the changes that the publisher wanted me to make were changes I did not want to make. I was thinking about self-publishing, and then into my life came Caleb Mason.”
She describes her digital experience as “a new adventure.” She’s received more reviews for “Thanksgiving” than most of her other novels, but largely from the blogging community. She said she has had a hard time convincing traditional print reviewers to write about “Thanksgiving,” which has proven frustrating.
She will follow up “Thanksgiving” with a novel for print this spring, “The Mountaintop School For Dogs And Other Second Chances,” by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or: