Creators Publishing's release, “Bocas,” is a comedic thriller set in a small beach town not unlike its home base of Hermosa Beach. Founded in 2012 to give unique literary voices a world-wide platform, Creators Publishing is a branch of the syndication company Creators founded in 1987 by Rick Newcombe.
“We have a broad spectrum ... of writers and artists that are outside the mainstream ... controversial, compelling voices, that's been our trademark since 1987,” Newcombe said.
Creators Publishing has published 174 books, according to managing editor Simone Slykhous. As a small Hermosa Beach company, she said they have the leeway to publish what “really speaks to us.”
“We're bridging the gap between the self-publishing world that has really exploded, using the print on-demand services that we have, and these huge publishers that are out there,” Slykhous said. “So we are competing in the same space as a Random House or Simon & Schuster.”
Creators Publishing receives numerous cold submissions, but as a “boutique” publisher, they focus on four books a year, including Thomas Barron's “Bocas,” which will be released in November. Because the books are published on-demand, the company operates with zero inventory, according to Jack Newcombe, Rick's son and the company's president.
“It makes it efficient as possible so the editorial, creative side can kind of not be beholden to a specific genre or writer or anything ... what's the most important thing is finding the best writer with the most uncommon voice who has something to say that hasn’t been said before,” Jack said. “The idea is to pull these handful of phenomenal books out of the large number of submissions that we get.”
Rick Newcombe was a reporter and editor for United Press International before being recruited by the Los Angeles Times Syndicated to be its sales manager and general manager in 1978. He lured Erma Bombeck, the well-known humor columnist, to leave News America Syndicate, to join the LA Times, which “upset” Rupert Murdoch, who had just purchased the syndicate.
“He found out who did it and flew me to New York,” recalled Rick. “I met him and he hired me to run his syndicate, which was the third largest in the world. He just bought it; knew nothing about it.”
After Murdoch sold the syndicate to Hearst Corporation's King Features Syndicate, Rick said he had the option of staying or maybe going back to the LA Times, but instead he decided to start Creators Syndicate.
Beginning with columnist Ann Landers, Johnny Hart's comic strip “B.C.” and Herblock's political cartoons, Creators has syndicated a broad spectrum of voices, including Hillary Clinton, Bill O'Reilly, Pope John Paul II, Richard Nixon, Nancy Reagan and Hunter S. Thompson. Creators comics also included characters from Mickey Mouse to the Wizard of Id. Creators has represented more than 250 writers and artists, some of whom have won Pulitzer Prizes.
Rick said the company's goal is to be “apolitical.”
“We're not biased in the sense that we publish a selection of columns,” he said. “Hillary Clinton wrote a column for us when she was First Lady. We also published a collection of columns from one of our columnists Ben Carson. I wrote an introduction to each one.”
Creators started in Westwood in 1987, then grew and moved to a high rise near LAX. They were there for 25 years, but after a tax dispute with the city of Los Angeles, moved to 3rd Street in Hermosa Beach in 2012. Their new home was once a church and then a Vasek Polak car dealership.
“We put a ton of money into making it great offices,” Rick said.
With the eroding newspaper industry, Rick felt a natural way to grow would be book publishing, especially with the emergence of eBooks and print-on-demand.
“Twenty years ago, 100 percent of our sales were to newspapers, 10 years ago maybe 90 percent sales to newspapers, 10 percent to websites and digital outlets,” Rick said. “Today I think 70 percent are digital at least and 30 percent to newspaper and the 30 percent is to online newspapers. Everything is gong online.”
Aside from emerging writers, Creators Publishing is bringing back some books that have been out of print for years, including “Franco Columbu's Complete Book of Bodybuilding,” which sold a half a million copies in the 1970s. Rick, an avid bodybuilder himself, said Columbu's book as well as an audio edition, will be released in September.
According to Slykhous, many of the bigger publishers are focusing on young adult and true crime books. Creators, she said, is an avenue for other genres.
“Literary fiction or mixed genre or classic books that haven’t been read for years, those are being pushed aside,” Slykhous said. “We want to make sure those voices are heard as well.”
For more information, visit creators.com.