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The May 28th workshop in Mexico City is sold out. Stay tuned for an announcement about another to be scheduled soon.
Read an interview with John Randolph Bennett here.
Also new on the webpage: Q & A with C.M. Mayo
Why did you start Dancing Chiva?
I love making books. I love writing them more than I like making them, which is why, though it occured to me many times, I did not start my own publishing firm. (About a decade ago, I did found a literary journal, Tameme, and from that, took some tough lessons in how much work it really is to edit, produce, distribute, and market a publication.) So why now? Because with the digital revolution, transaction costs have so fallen that everything changes.
I own the ebook rights to not all but several of my own books, and I want to embark on the adventure of formatting / designing them myself. But more interestingly, in researching Miraculous Air, my travel memoir of Baja California, and later, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, a novel about Mexico's Second Empire, I came across several books and other shorter works that deserve to be published / republished and yet do not, under the old publishing model—paper printing, distributor, bricks-and-mortar bookstores—have the potential to cover their costs. Some of these are so old that copyright has expired, so for me, the cost of publishing is little more than formatting and uploading. Of course, I'll add an introduction, images, and some other goodies. They will be scrumptious little books.
In sum, though traditional bookstores and publishers are certainly not dead, they are not playing the overshadowing role that they did. For the kind of publishing I want to do—e-books and very small runs of signed editions (marbled paper, etc)— I don't need to pay for freight and a warehouse. I don't need Ingram or Baker & Taylor. I don't need bookstores. What a newfangled publisher needs is a website and a permission mailing list—a base of customers who have provided their e-mail because they want to receive announcements, special offers, and more. I think you'll find it worth your while to sign up for Dancing Chiva's newsletter. And if not, you can opt out instantly at any time.
Have you given up on traditional publishers then?
Not at all because with their expertise and scale, they can do things I do not aim to do with Dancing Chiva. As I said, much as I love making books, I prefer writing them; for this reason, Dancing Chiva is intentionally small scale at the level of administration and marketing. And I have to say, I have been very happy with my publishers, Whereabouts Press, Unbridled Books and, in Mexico, Grijalbo Random House Mondadori, especially. They certainly know how to get the books in the bookstores!
Why publish limited editions?
One of the great luxuries in life is a beautiful book: the heft in the hand, how it delights the eye, and it even smells—fresh paper, leather—divine. Even as I build a larger library of e-books and declutter my bookshelves of all those yellowed paperbacks, I do want to keep certain beautiful books at hand—and I know I am not alone.
Why is Dancing Chiva based in Mexico?
Because that's where I live, when I'm not in Washington DC.
Will you publish works in Spanish?
Yes, and the Spanish language version of this website will go live soon.
Why the name "Dancing Chiva"?
In the hallway into my office, I have an antique painting of a gypsy dancing with a little white goat. I was wondering what to call my company when I happened to glance at the little goat—chiva (female goat in Spanish). It's a play on Dancing Shiva, the representation of the cosmic dance of the Hindu god (no disrespect intended), and very apt, for, to me, making books is a kind of happy little dance.
Read more interviews with C.M. Mayo here.
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