A Little Love for Prospect Park Books

CDB POS photo PW storyWoo-boy, it’s a busy time of year here at Prospect Park Books. We’re launching one great book after another, traveling up a storm, editing and designing a crop of fantastic new titles for the future, and in general not getting much sleep. We do it all for love, and to get the work of our amazing authors out into the world, and as is true with most small presses, we don’t get much attention. As it should be—it’s our authors who deserve the accolades.

Still, it does feel good to get some love from the outside world for what we do, so we’re happy to share this (commence blushing here) quite complimentary feature on Prospect Park Books by Wendy Werris in Publishers Weekly. The magazine story included the photo here, although that doesn’t appear in the online version. That’s Patty on the left and Colleen on the right.

Here’s how it starts:

Colleen Bates, publisher of Prospect Park Books in Pasadena, Calif., gave herself a practical exercise 10 years ago: in order to learn about book design, sales, and distribution, she would self-publish a book. The experiment was enough of a success that in 2006, she founded Prospect Park Books.

A former freelance writer, editor, and the author of two previous books, Bates’s first title at PPB was Hometown Pasadena. “I was so naïve,” said Bates, “that I thought the initial printing of 5,000 copies would last me two years. It sold out two months later.” That blunder never happened again, and the books Bates published in the first three years of business remain steady sellers. Lian Dolan’s novel Helen of Pasadena made the Los Angeles Times bestseller list in 2010 and spawned another successful novel by Dolan, Elizabeth the First WifeHelen has sold 22,000 copies to date, and Elizabeth has sold about 19,000 copies. The performance of the Dolan titles gave a financial boost to Prospect Park Books. “I started thinking, ‘Okay, this could be bigger,’ ” reflected Bates. And it all happened at a propitious time for her—she had ended cancer treatment and found herself with new burst of energy.

Prospect Park’s output grew from two books a year to nine in 2013. Besides regional titles, Bates began publishing cookbooks; Celebrating with Julienne won the nonfiction book prize from the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association in 2011, and the Eat: Los Angeles restaurant guide is now in its fourth edition. Drink: Los Angeles will come out this year. By the time The Neurotic Parent’s Guide to College Admissions was released in 2012, Bates was ready for a business partner.

Enter Patty O’Sullivan, with whom Bates became friendly through their children’s school. A former film story editor, O’Sullivan returned to college to get an M.B.A. from the Drucker School. She later worked as a consultant in market research for several corporations, and was hired by Bates in 2012 as a freelancer to help with The Neurotic Parent. They worked so well together that they decided to become partners. “When I came along, it was about figuring out this big growth plan and executing it,” O’Sullivan said. “How can we go from doing three or four books a year to 12 without hiring 20 people or becoming an imprint of Random House?” The biggest change came in Prospect Park’s deeper commitment to fiction, and the hiring of a marketing and editorial associate and a production and design associate.

Some of the novels scheduled for this summer and beyond include Karen Rizzo’s Famous Baby, about a mommy blogger (July), and Alan Hruska’s legal thriller Pardon the Ravens (Feb., 2015). The press released five works of fiction in 2013 and will publish four this year.

You can read the rest here.

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