- Chris Katsaropoulos (left) and Tracy Richardson of Luminis Books.
Luminis Books was launched in October 2008 in Carmel "with a mission to publish meaningful literary fiction for children and adults." It publishes four or five new titles annually, including work by publisher and author Chris Katsaropoulos, who recently connected with NUVO for this interview.
NUVO: Why Luminis?
Chris Katsaropoulos: Luminis is Latin for "light" - we see Luminis as a way to spread understanding and enjoyment to readers through our books. I have been in publishing for over 20 years and have always wanted to publish fiction. Rapid changes in technology over the past five to six years have enabled us to publish books more cost-effectively and promote them through non-traditional channels, such as social media, directly to readers. Literary agents told us there is a growing need for publishers who introduce and support new voices in the YA and literary fiction markets, as the "Big Six" publishers move more of their marketing dollars and efforts to support blockbuster series publishing, such as the Twilight books.
NUVO: What's terrific and not so terrific about being based in Indiana?
Katsaropoulos: The terrific part is being able to run a publishing company from our home without having to go to an office. There are really no boundaries with technology being what it is - we have authors from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Hawaii, California and Indiana, and we work with publicists and agents in Florida, California, Texas and New York. You don't have to be in New York to publish books anymore. Our distributor is located in New York and Michigan, and our warehouse is in Arkansas. We work with several different freelance photographers, illustrators and designers, including our son Alex. Sometimes authors come to us with their own cover; the cover art for Summer Sanctuary is by the winner of a contest at a middle school.
NUVO: What special/unique aspects will a reader find in a Luminis book?
Katsaropoulos: Our elevator pitch for Luminis is "meaningful books that entertain," another way of saying we publish YA and literary fiction that has an extra depth of meaning to it, including teen sexual abuse in Maybe I Will - or a distinctive writing style or structure, found in Sabrina's Window, A River So Long and Fragile.
NUVO: Who is paying attention to Luminis books?
Katsaropoulos: We have received strong reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly and Booklist. We are getting particularly strong uptake on our novels from libraries and librarians, with several great reviews of Maybe I Will from YALSA, Young Adult Library Services Association. Luminis Books will be exhibited at ALA (American Library Association) in Chicago, including a luncheon with several key librarians from across the country. Librarians and independent bookstores in particular are looking for outstanding writing and fiction that doesn't follow the latest trend or series, something that's strong on character development and presents ideas that make readers think - that's what we strive for with every novel we publish.
NUVO: Are young adults and middle-grade readers reading both print and e-books?
Katsaropoulos: We have seen more print sales than ebooks for YA and middle grade readers at this point, but that is changing. We expect sales of ebooks to grow for all of our readers. Several of our novels have been used for school and library reading programs, including Indian Summer at Pike Middle School and in a reading program in Zionsville. A River So Long is required reading in a literature course titled "Love, Desire, and the Good Life" at Bryant College in Rhode Island. Professor Thom Bassett said, "I chose Watson's novel because its form and style captures the fragmented, accelerated, isolating world my students move in, and the protagonist Veronica's choices in pursuit of, and in avoidance of, true connection with another mirror the challenges they, and we all, face now. It's an added benefit that Veronica's sexuality doesn't easily fit into any of the molds that American culture and marketing try to fit young women into."