Escape Collective

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This is the End

 

After a long year and a half (almost two years) of planning and working, we are calling it quits.  Below I will paste the nuts & bolts letter of note, but here perhaps I should be a bit more personal.  I’ve done this before – both operating a business and shutting it down – and I can tell you it’s not a small matter.  If starting a business venture (even a creative one) is like giving birth to and raising a child, then ending a business is like… like outliving your children.  It doesn’t feel natural, no matter how right it might be.  There is no way to describe the levels of weirdness.

This year has been a difficult one for us.  As a company, we are still solvent and could continue along this track for months – maybe a year or so – without doing much of anything.  But the heart was no longer there.  The original founders (well, except for me) had removed themselves from the business.  Personal conflicts and professional/family duties strained at our resources.  Even with new blood injected into the mix, there was no way to keep the heart beating.

So why did it go South?  I don’t want to drag out all the terrible details.  The short answer is this:  Marketing.  All of our business plans looked great on paper – except for that one, ginormous, gaping hole, labeled “TBD.”  Editors, writers, and copy-editors do not make good marketers.  That is to say, the same skills that make an editor excel do not serve the skill set of a good marketer.  In our case, they didn’t overlap.  We turned a blind eye to our primary shortcomings and could never get over the crippling skill gap.  Marketing.

We all learned a great deal from this.  Well, most of us learned a great deal.  I may throw my hat into the publishing field again in the future.  I loved my authors, I loved the work, and I loved the idea that I helped bring some kind of art to the world.  It was a great adventure.  I will miss it, but I’m glad it is ending.

Thank you very much.  Below is our final, so-called ‘press release’ for ECP.

-Patrick

 

Hello,

Effective immediately, Escape Collective Publishing will cease all publishing operations.  All listings have been removed from all retail markets.  All respective copyrights will return immediately to the original copyright holders.  Any and all royalty obligations not currently satisfied will be reconciled as soon as is humanly possible.  Solicitations for stories will no longer be sought, nor accepted.  Before the end of 2012, the cooperative corporate entity that is Escape Collective Publishing will be dissolved.

It has been a pleasure to work with a great many talented, hard-working authors, editors, and artists.  Everyone here at Escape Collective Publishing is proud of the people who have made this all possible – the authors – and the fantastic stories we have worked with.

If you have any questions, please contact us at your earliest convenience.  We wish you all the very best in your future endeavors.

Best regards,

-Patrick Jennings-Mapp, Editor
Escape Collective Publishing

Broken Hearts, Big Ideas

Ooh! So very, very pretty!

With Valentine’s Day looming over the horizon, I thought I’d give my two cents on the subject.  In short, I sort of hate Valentine’s Day.  It’s not because of the usual reasons, I guess.  I have a wonderful wife, whom I adore.  Despite my best attempts to be otherwise, I am a hopeless romantic.  I even enjoy the occasional
indulgence of whimsical love notes and cards.  I don’t even really mind the commercial aspect of it, although I flat-out reject the idea that I should spend any money just because it’s Valentine’s Day.  It’s the ‘Day’ part that I loathe.  

It’s already difficult to be a hopeful, positive person in this world.  I don’t want to be negative and cynical all the time.  For one thing, it’s just too easy.  For another, it’s a bad thing to imprint on my friends and family.  It is far too easy to hate on Valentine’s Day, just because it is a cynical, consumerist, superficial thing.  It’s a bit harder to look at why we should reject it and model good ways to interact with and about “love.”  

It’s the age of ‘Jersey Shore’, ‘The Kardashians’ and the 12-hour news cycle.  My friends and I joke about kids right out of high school getting into “starter marriages” because – damn it – that’s what they are.  Real commitment is difficult to hold on to.  Real, mature and lasting relationships require communication and (sometimes) hard work.  Flowers, cards, chocolate and diamond rings have all the depth of a dixie cup and it reflects the facile, imitation-flavor of love that you can buy on your way home from work.  

I’ve had my heart broken and as much as I’d like to forget it, I’ve broken some too.  Valentine’s Day seems like a warped reflection of all that pain and misery.  Yes, there are plenty of people who enjoy it.  And who am I to say that their experience is in any way not valid?  I say, if you want to wear rose-colored glasses for a day and spend a ton of money on your sweetie, that’s fine.  That’s your business.  I object to the ‘Day’ part of it, more than anything.  

It’s funny.  I started this as a way to segue into a plug for our new book, Orbital Hearts.  It is out right now, on Amazon (for the low price of $3.99!).  It’s an anthology of ten stories, by an international coterie of authors.  And it’s all about ‘doomed romance’ and ‘star-crossed lovers’ – ya know, good stuff.  It’s not,
strictly speaking, an anti-Valentine’s Day book, but it speaks to a lot of what I’m trying to get at here.  In fact, the contributors to Orbital Hearts manage to stay within the bounds of the theme, while being more eloquent and genuinely romantic than I could hope to be.

Love – in the classic, ‘eternal love’ sort of sense – is a fleeting and ephemeral thing.  It’s here and then, sometimes, it’s gone.  Our hearts rule over us, make us do things we would never otherwise choose.  This is nothing to triffle with, nothing to take lightly, or dismiss, or cheapen with a ‘Day.’  In my experience, love – true love – is something to respect, maybe even stand in fear or awe of.  Do you love someone?  Then do something about it.  But don’t let some sales pitch dictate when and how.

Patrick Jennings-Mapp is a co-founder of and an editor for Escape Collective Publishing.  When he’s not working, he enjoys long walks on the beach, listening to Coltrane, and surrealist art.

Who Needs Action When You Got Words?

“What have you been up to lately?”
“Oh, uh, not much. Started a new publishing company.”
“Yeah? How’s that going?”
“It’s going FREAKIN’ AWESOME!”
“Oh, wow, sounds great.”
“It is. It really, really is.”
“Uh, hey, are you crying?”
“I’ve been trying to format the same document for nine days.”
“Oh… okay…”
“Help me… oh god, help me…”


That’s how all of my conversations have been this past week.

The last six month chunk of my life has been a frenzy of activity.  On the Hitchen’s Scale of Inhuman Mental Stimulation, this period in my life rates a solid ‘8’.  And take it from me, that beats out all of my academic experiences and most of my self-employment.  Oh, but it’s not about the drama and the constant, ever-increasing workload.  No, it’s about watching something grow from an idea into an actual… THING.  It is amazing.

This entire enterprise began – as many good things do – with coffee.  It was literally a dark and stormy night, last December, and there were only the four of us at our regular coffee night joint.  We talked and gossiped for a bit, but it was clear that the night wasn’t going to be fun & games.  Thad had been chewing on ideas about publishing for a while.  He leaned forward and said, “You guys wanna hear this idea I’ve got?”

It wasn’t so much the market conditions, or the idea that we needed to jump into the business now.  There were plenty of reasons to avoid getting our hands dirty with the insanity of running a publishing company.  But there was a really, really compelling component of that first discussion:  An Egalitarian Ideal.  Because the overhead is so minimal, we could make sure the authors got a huge piece of the pie.  Because we are all cool, urban, post-college, writers and editors and teachers, we could create a workers collective out of our company – a place where we shared the work and the rewards equally.  None of us are the boss – all of us are the boss.

And it’s not that we’re really shy about being “the boss”, or whatever.  Between us we have decades of experience in teaching, professional publishing, editing and running a successful business.  We all individually have our own needs and writing aspirations and we’ve all put in our time “in the trenches”, but we want to create a better environment than what we see.  The internet marketplace for writers can be a wonderful place, damn it – and we want to leave it better than when we found it.  All glibness aside, we really think that this is an idea that is very different – and completely sustainable – for the future of book-selling.

My comrades and I – and every author that we’re working with at the moment – are all on the cusp of something new and amazing.  Anytime a new project takes flight it’s pretty exciting, of course, but I think we’re doing good things here.  And I really do think that the quality and content of our works – our words – will change things.  I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Patrick Jennings-Mapp is a co-founder of and an editor at Escape Collective Publishing.  When he’s not reading, writing, or editing, he can be found in the coffee shop – eating scones, sipping coffee and resisting the urge to smoke a cigarette.  Also, he sometimes imagines that his life is central plot to an extremely weird – but boring – film.

The Final Stretch!

Howdy!

We’re getting down to the last days before our first books go on sale.  Exciting!  Yes, very.  But I’m not going to dwell on that too much, there’s still a LOT to be done.  Just formatting the text for Kindle and Nook is crazy-making.  Not to mention the marketing and reviews and yadda-yadda-yadda…  I’m not going to get into it.  But look – only ONE WEEK until people can buy the books!  Hey, take a look at those covers:

Wow! It's so pretty!

Cover for Corpus Pretereo

cover of All Hope Lost

I am so looking forward to next week, partly just to see what kind of reception these books get.  But mostly, I want the authors to have their work get into readers’ hands (well, Nooks and Kindles, I suppose).  We are very pleased with these two books and we can only hope that the world likes ’em too.

All right, back to work for me.  Next time, I’ll spill the beans on who we are and why we do this kind of thing.  Cheers!

Patrick Jennings-Mapp is a co-founder of and an editor at Escape Collective Publishing.  When he’s not reading, writing, or editing, he can be found in the kitchen – doing terrifying experiments with pancakes and waffles, in the name of Breakfast Science.  Also, he drinks far too much coffee.

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