Coffeetown Press was created in 2005 to publish a few academic titles. Since then, titles have grown to include cozy mysteries, memoirs, literary fiction, and nonfiction. Based in Seattle, Coffeetown Press also has an imprint, Camel Press, a self-described “feisty little publisher” that publishes the books “that grab you and hold you in their grip long into the night.” Specifically, Camel Press publishes genre fiction: romance, mystery/suspense, science fiction, fantasy and horror. Forecast, Baker & Taylor’s digital catalog for the best new releases, spoke with Coffeetown Press publisher, Catherine Treadgold, and Jennifer McCord, associate publisher and executive editor.
Tell us about Coffeetown Press’ beginnings.
(The owner) proposed to long-time family friend Hazel Holt—a colleague and biographer of Barbara Pym, and renowned writer of British cozies—that she reprint her fi rst four mysteries with Coffeetown. At that point there was only one imprint, Coffeetown Press. Hazel later reprinted the next three mysteries in that series with us and several of the early Barbara Pym titles for which she inherited the rights. Her son, Tom Holt, reprinted his two Lucia novels with us, Lucia in Wartime and Lucia Triumphant.
What was the catalyst for Camel Press?
About a year after I joined the press, I realized that we needed a genre imprint. My specialty has always been mysteries, and when Jennifer joined the press a year later, she also brought her mystery expertise with her as well as her extensive knowledge of what makes romance novels work. Since then we have been approved by Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers.
What do you look for in authors and books?
First, we look for a principal character who is likable and can carry the story and an appealing setting. A lively writing style is more important than perfect grammar, which can be addressed in edits. We also consider the author’s ability to handle social media and build a reader base. We are particularly on the lookout for a diverse and engaging group of characters. Our main focus has been on series titles to help build readership, but we always ensure that these titles can also stand alone.
Share some accomplishments.
Our first starred review in Publishers Weekly was for Mark Everett Stone’s The Judas Line. We’ve received other starred reviews in both Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, among them Leta Serafim’s Greek Island Mysteries and Rich Zahradnik’s Coleridge Taylor Mysteries. Two of our 2016 mysteries were shortlisted for the Shamus Awards. Our titles have placed in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the Foreword Book of the Year Awards, and the IPPY Awards. Blackstone Audio and Audible have produced audiobooks of our mysteries. Cengage recently purchased some of our titles for large print, and Harlequin is including many of our mysteries in their Worldwide Mystery Subscription Series in mass market paperback.
What trends are you watching?
On Camel Press, we’ve noticed a demand for “clean reads” with almost no sex. Many readers believe they are living in scary times, and they are looking for reliable escapism, including a world that makes sense and has a moral compass. Stories where the bad guys get their just desserts and courage is rewarded. We are doing everything we can to help our writers find their readership in a constantly changing retail and social media landscape.