Shamus Award—winning mystery writer David Fulmer first heard about Stay Thirsty Press when a friend sent him an e-mail. “It was a notice from Craigslist that a publisher was looking for original works to publish as e-books,” said Fulmer. “I'd had this book, The Last Time, that had technically been shopped around by my agent, but it was different from all my other work and was always at the bottom of the stack. I'd been working on it for eight years, and thought, what have I got to lose.”
The Craigslist posting was from a new Chicago e-book publisher, Stay Thirsty Press. That was on June 1. By June 7, Fulmer's seventh novel, The Last Time, was available as a digital-only download for the Kindle on Amazon.com for $9.99, published by Stay Thirsty Press. With editors and authors being let go by many traditional publishers, Dusty Sang, publisher of Stay Thirsy, said, “I thought maybe this was a great time to find authors I'd be interested in working with. I put an ad in Craig's List New York and have had hundreds of submissions.”
A former entertainment lawyer, Sang, 61, became a publisher because of a family tragedy. In 2004, his 24-year-old son, Ryan, died from complications related to bipolar disorder; as a tribute, Sang funded the launch of StayThirsty.com, an online music and art magazine run by Ryan's friends. Today, Sang's leveraging the brand into e-books as an effort to monetize the site. Stay Thirsty's first book, Mrs. Beast by Pamela Ditchoff, went on sale March 22, just three weeks after she contacted Sang. Before signing with Stay Thirsty, Ditchoff published the novel Seven Days & Seven Sins (Shaye Areheart Books, 2003) and earlier, The Mirror of Monsters and Prodigies (Coffee House Press, 2005). She plans to publish the sequel to Mrs. Beast with Stay Thirsty.
The first royalty checks went out to Ditchoff 60 days after the book first went on sale. The press sends the author the sales statement from Amazon, and does a 50/50 split.
Stay Thirsty has just published its first nonfiction title: a collection of columns from EDGE magazine by David Toussaint entitled Toussaint! Toussaint penned Gay and Lesbian Weddings for Ballantine Books in 2004, but found no takers for this work. “Dusty doesn't have the clout of Random House,” Toussaint said. “The upside is that he's only working with a couple of writers, so the personal attention is wonderful. As for the e-book thing, of course it's a compromise. Some people have flat-out told me they won't read anything digital. On the upside, I've spoken with people who loved having it on their phone. They also liked the $9.99 price.”