In an unusual venture, the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses and a newly launched firm called the Literary Ventures Fund are merging to create a nonprofit organization looking to use the venture-capital investment model to provide support to literary publishing.
The new entity will be called the Literary Ventures Fund and Council of Literary Magazines and Presses. LVF will act as the parent company of CLMP. Although merged, the two organizations will maintain separate incorporations with offices in New York and Boston, where LVF is based.
Jeffrey Lependorf, executive director of CLMP, will act as executive director of LVF. He said the new endeavor would use a "venture philanthropy model" to provide financial support for individual books. Lependorf said that the venture's "investment" in a book could take the form of an advance for a writer, specialized marketing support (including personnel) or even funds for an author tour or promotional events. "It's not an effort to find marketable books," explained Lependorf, "but to help each literary book meet its market potential, whatever that may be." CLMP is a nonprofit organization that provides a wide range of technical support to independent literary presses.
Lependorf said the fund will begin accepting applications for funding in the fall. In addition, Ande Zellman, a former publishing consultant, has been hired to serve as editorial director.
Book projects will be solicited from literary houses and selected based on literary merit, said Lependorf. Books that produce a profit will pay back a percentage of their revenue to the fund, to help support future projects. Lependorf emphasized that this percentage would not come out of the writer's royalties.
Jim Bildner, president and founder of the Literary Ventures Fund, is a general partner at the venture capital firm of New Horizons Partners in Boston. Bildner, also on the board of Graywolf Press, said he started LVF because he was "disheartened" by the "lack of support available to literary publishing." He said that by "creating a new channel for support that relies on market forces, we think we'll be more effective in providing help."
Bildner declined to reveal the size of the LVF investment fund, but said he expects to fund eight to 12 literary projects by the end of the year. "We like to think we can affect the marketplace for literary books," said Lependorf.