Interview with Lauren Cherelle, Resolute Manager
How did Resolute Publishing start?
I formed Resolute Publishing in 2010, a year after completing graduate school. During this period, the unemployment rate had soared and my partner and I had a hard time landing jobs. We decided to turn lemons into lemonade by using our abundance of free time to write Black lesbian narratives. At first, novel writing was simply a way to keep myself busy. But, when I began to research what it would take actually publish my book, I learned that independent publishing complemented my interests and skills. I enjoyed the process of publishing so much that I formed Resolute to “house” my first book and the work of other Black lesbian writers.
Tell us a bit about Resolute Publishing. What are your influences, your aesthetic, your mission?
Resolute is an independent publishing collective that produces publications rooted in African American culture and/or same-gender loving experiences. I target Black lesbian fiction writers, but I welcome submissions from women of color that are committed to great storytelling and are also passionate readers.
The “collective” (in publishing collective) captures my vision as a publisher and my values as a small-business owner. Essentially, every Resolute author has strengths that she can contribute to the collective beyond her manuscript—in the areas of beta reading or developmental editing, for example. As a publisher, and a woman who values collectivism, I’m not interested in the ownership of titles. I’m interested in building and managing a community of writers that enjoy stories and writing and diversity among our communities.
I’m striving to reach milestones in contemporary Black lesbian writing by helping Black lesbian writers navigate the world of publishing—which marginalizes our contributions and stories.
Can you give us a preview of what’s current and/or forthcoming from your catalog, as well as what you’re hoping to publish in the future?
Resolute’s catalog includes fiction, poetry, middle-grade, and children’s titles, all penned or illustrated by Black lesbian women. The most recent titles include Lyric & Blake and The Dawn of Nia. Lyric & Blake (written by V. Nikki Jones) is a middle-grade novella for the young and young at heart. The story features queer Black girls in seventh grade—rare characters in LGBTQ and middle-grade fiction. My second novel, The Dawn of Nia, is a contemporary romance about loss and love, with themes of family and forgiveness. The story isn’t about being in love; it’s about what it takes to fall in love, including the love of self and others.
I’m shifting gears for my next project by co-writing/publishing my first creative non-fiction title with my partner, Dr. V. Nikki Jones. I also want the (future) catalog to include additional titles for young readers, titles featuring queer Black girl characters.
We used to ask, “What about small/independent press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?” We’re still interested in the answer to that, but we’re even more interested to know what you think needs to change.
African American women purchase a hefty portion of books in America; therefore, the publishing industry, in general, should do a better job of releasing books that represent the diversity of African American readers—ultimately, changing the dynamics of mainstream publishing and the people that dictate its course. This is a gap of opportunity for Resolute and other independent presses to help fill. Although most indie publishers don’t have big budgets, we often have the flexibility and latitude to publish meaningful work that gets overlooked or undervalued in other spheres. Black lesbian literature overall has a DIY history. Black lesbian writers have forged their own paths for many years, and I’m happy about how recent technologies, on-demand printing, and e-books have strengthened our platforms—especially for writers and publishers that don’t reside in major metropolitan areas.
How do you cope? There’s been a lot of conversation lately about charging reading fees, printing costs, rising book costs, who should pay for what, etc. Do you have any opinions on this, and would you be willing to share any insights about the numbers at Resolute Publishing?
As an independent publisher, I wear many hats. I cope by pacing my efforts, by valuing quality over quantity, and not overextending myself with projects for the sake of profit. And I manage expenses by keeping certain tasks in-house and subcontracting when necessary, and by recognizing opportunities to cut expenses. For example, e-book sales accounted for over 40% of Resolute’s annual sales in 2016. So, how can I bypass the rising costs of print books by increasing e-book sales?
I operate as a traditional publisher, so I do not charge reading or submission fees. I understand the appeal of vanity publishing and the measures that some publishers take to mitigate expenses by requiring authors to “foot the bill,” but these options do not appeal to me because it would change the dynamics of my relationship with authors, and my role would change from publisher to broker. Authors should not pay-for-play. Of course, every publisher/publishing company must do what’s best for their business/interests, and this is why it’s important for communities of writers to hold conversations about trends around fees/costs and to understand the business of books.