The cozy-crowded bookstore Papercuts J.P. was already bursting at the seams. But shop owner Kate Layte and her only full-time employee, Katie Eelman, knew so many talented writers who were going undetected that they decided to make room for a few more books.
The pair founded Cutlass Press at the tiny store last year and quickly secured additional office space nearby. The imprint’s first book, a memoir by local musician Rick Berlin, is a bestseller at Papercuts and is stocked at stores around the country. Cutlass has three books on tap for this year, including the second edition of an anthology of work by authors who have given readings at the store.
It works like this: After a project is selected, Eelman usually edits the volume, then one of the store’s other employees, who happens to be a professional copy editor, fine-tunes it. Other work, such as design, is done by freelancers, and the finished files are sent to an on-demand printing company. Layte and Eelman pitch the volume to the store’s network of booksellers, who can order it directly from the printer and talk it up to their customers.
Cutlass puts together book tours for its authors and, after expenses are recouped, splits the royalties 50/50 with them. “Most people are pretty excited to see a small, independent bookstore coming up with their own material,” says Layte, who previously worked in publishing. “[A] free, independent press is one of the most vital things you can have.”