This week we caught up with Casey Taft, who founded Vegan Publishers in 2013 with wife, Christen Mailler. Joined by a team of budding vegan superstars, they have been steadily carving a place for themselves in the publishing world. Read on to find out what they have in store for the new year and why it was so important for them to create a space for vegan authors to shine.
Oh! Before I forget, Vegan Publishers has kindly offered to do a giveaway for their new children’s book, Dave Loves Chickens, by Carlos Patino! If you can’t wait for the end of the contest, head on over and pick up a copy. Today is the last day for their 50% off sale. Click HERE to buy.
What is your mission? What made you decide to start a publishing company?
Our mission is to spread awareness about vegan living and compassionate life choices. Our decision to start a publishing company is something that evolved over time. The main factor leading to our decision was that we wanted to find a way to make a difference for animals. We Googled “Vegan Publishers” and were surprised that nobody had taken that seemingly obvious name already, and that there weren’t more vegan publishing companies out there. With my background in academic publishing and Chris’ background in art and illustration, it seemed like a natural path to follow. Before Vegan Publishers, I devoted my career solely to preventing and ending family violence, and I really wanted to extend this violence prevention work to non-human animals as well.
Why was it important to you to brand your company as “vegan?”
We thought it important because we are in fact vegan and we wanted to make clear in our title and mission that our company is focused on promoting veganism. We’re honestly not sure why so many people are afraid of the term. When we say that we are vegan, we are making it clear that we strive to not exploit animals in any way. We feel that is something that people should embrace and should not be ashamed of.
Do you think it’s harder to attract talented writers as a “vegan” company versus a mainstream publisher?
We don’t feel that we’ve had any trouble attracting talent. We get quality submissions every day. Our biggest challenge is simply that we are so new and we are at a natural disadvantage compared to established publishers who have been around for a while and have more developed distribution networks. That all being said, we never intended to mimic or compete with the mega publishers who pay authors minimal royalties and publish vegan books because they think it’s a hot topic that can help their bottom line. We are hopeful that in the future, more established authors will seek us out because they appreciate the fact that we are a vegan business and are doing this for the right reasons.
Have you noticed an uptick in the demand for vegan/vegan-friendly literature?
It certainly seems like there has been an uptick! It seems like everywhere you turn there is a new vegan cookbook coming out! We’re also pleased that there are many more vegan themed books coming out that go beyond food.
What would an aspiring vegan writer have to do to get noticed by Vegan Publishers?
Probably the most important thing that we look for is that the book fills some kind of gap in the literature. Maybe this comes in part from my academic background, but I’m drawn to books that are novel and haven’t really been done before. That way, we can get books out there that might serve a needed purpose. For example, we’re publishing a vegan travel book, vegan children’s books (including a raw vegan cookbook for kids), and a book that focuses on the intersections between animal, human, and environmental rights. All of those areas have been under-covered in previous work.
What types of books do you have lined up for the next year? Any new authors?
We have several books in the works. I alluded to some in my last response. We have a few vegan themed children’s books that we’re excited about. We never really intended to focus so heavily on children’s books, but that’s sort of where the submissions we received took us. We’re planning on developing a more well-rounded catalogue, with a more activist focused book edited by Will Tuttle, and the long anticipated Will Travel for Vegan Food book. We have had discussions about other books as well but haven’t signed on the dotted line just yet on those. We’re excited to see what’s around the bend for VP.
How does your business model differ from a traditional publishing company?
I will be honest with you, we are not good business people! We’re probably the only publisher that has told authors that we wanted to give them a higher royalty than they were asking for, or increased their royalty unsolicited. When we are not sure about something, we always err on the side of the author or whoever we’re dealing with because we always want to be fair and helpful. Sometimes that leads us to lose money. So many people have been helpful to us along the way and we want to pay it forward. So we pretty much suck at business but we have found this to be so rewarding that it’s all worth it.
To be a little bit more concrete, though, we think a lot of traditional publishers are sort of locked into old ways of doing things. We think that there is plenty of room for innovation. For example, we make heavy use of social media and will be using crowd funding more and more to put out books. We have also learned, however, that it is important to learn all that we can about the more traditional methods, particularly regarding distribution, and the more we’ve tried to get away from those methods the more we have learned that they are necessary for any successful publisher. We’re learning every day and enjoying every minute of the process!
To learn more about Vegan Publishers and their upcoming projects, or to pitch your own story, visit VeganPublishers.com. Also, check out their indiegogo campaign for raw, vegan children’s cookbook, How to Eat a Rainbow…there’s only four days left to support!
Enter HERE to win a copy of Dave Loves Chickens
(the contest opens up at midnight, tonight!)
(This giveaway is open to residents of the United States and will end on March 8, 2014 at 12:00 am Eastern Time. All entrants must be 18 years of age or older. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. )