Author Gwen Cooper has teamed with BenBella Books to launch a subscription service for her cat-centric short stories. The effort will culminate with BenBella publishing a print edition of the collection in November.
Cooper is the author of Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat. The book was released by Random House in 2009, and has sold more than 350,000 copies. The feline subject of the book, Homer, died in August 2013, but retains a social media following of about 1.5 million.
Looking for ways to keep Homer's social media followers engaged, Cooper said she came up with the idea for the subscription service. The stories in the Curl Up with a Cat Tale series she said, are written in the same humorous style of Homer’s Odyssey, and feature characters from that book, as well as Homer: The Ninth Life of a Blind Cat (2015). Each new story ranges from 8,000 to 10,000 words
Instead of working with PRH or another major publisher, Cooper was originally planning to self-publish the stories. Then her agent, Beth Davey at Davey Literary & Media, suggested Cooper talk to Glenn Yeffeth, publisher of BenBella Books. Yeffeth was intrigued by teaming up with Cooper, especially because of the quality of her writing and the size of her platform.
With the support of BenBella, Cooper began a beta test of the service in April; the program launched in earnest in May. Individual Homer stories, which are available in a variety of e-book formats, are priced at $3.99. All 10 stories can be purchased for $14.99. BenBella is providing editorial support for the short stories and is distributing the e-books to all major e-tailers. The series can also be purchase directly from Cooper’s website.
BenBella is also collecting six of the pieces, along with two new stories written exclusively for the print edition, My Life in a Cat House, which will be published as a $21.95 hardcover on November 6. BenBella has just signed a deal with Blackstone for an audiobook edition, which will be released simultaneously with the print edition. Also set for release November 6 is Homer and the Holiday Miracle, which Cooper called a gift book for Homer fans.
To date, the Curl Up with a Cat Tale series has attracted about 2,000 subscribers. Given the limited promotion Cooper has done, she said she is "really happy" with the response. Cooper said that as the publication date of the print book draw closer, she will up her marketing efforts, which will feature a heavy dose of social media. Cooper believes marketing for the series with boost interest for My Life in a Cat House, while the release of the print edition will draw attention to the final stories. The short stories will be released through March 2019 , and a second series is set to begin next April, most likely with BenBella.