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Ken White, Publisher-to-be, tells some stories about why Query Books matters.
Ken White, Publisher-to-be, tells some stories about why Query Books matters.
Ken White, Publisher-to-be, tells some stories about why Query Books matters.
178 backers pledged $15,862 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Query Books: Join Our Launch! Support LGBT Publishing

$15,862

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You did it!

Because of you we made our $15,000 goal!

First, thanks to you!

To all those who pledged, who Liked and Shared on Facebook, re-tweeted, and all that jazz: this is something that you made possible. We enlisted your enthusiasm and your passion for these books. You made a commitment to Query Books, giving us your trust and your energy to make it all come true. We can't thank you enough.

Query Books has a volunteer team helping with key elements of the campaign. Michael Starkman did the Query Books logo and design elements. Nathaniel Walters took the raw footage of me droning into a camera and made it watchable! Meg Murray aka Profundity had lots of good advice for the campaign, provided the Drag Queen Coloring Book as a perk, and helped us get some of the videos. Nick Barber had tech advice and social media advice, and oh-so-much enthusiasm. Marcus Perry also helped to handle social media, particularly anything Instagram. And Michael McNamara, who so believed this could work, brought us several of our video PSA's and celebrity tweets. These people all volunteered their time because of their faith that this is a good project and deserves to succeed.

Thanks to all those who recorded our video PSAs, including everyone on our campaign team, and also Mr. David aka Glamamore; Grace Towers; Mx. Justin Vivian Bond; Dr. Carol Queen; Lynnee Breedlove; Jim Provenzano; Virgie Tovar; Keith Hennessy; Masen Davis; and Mutha Chucka.

Most of all, I have to thank Mark Freeman.

Mark spear-headed and cat-herded this campaign to success. It's not in my DNA to do an in-your-face campaign like the kind you have to do on Kickstarter. Mark assigned tasks; reminded everyone about deadlines and guidelines; made phone calls to people who might help; co-wrote social media posts and edited emails; and he filmed some of the videos you shared online. He encouraged, cajoled, and inevitably pleaded with me 'to do this' or 'say that' and pushed us to make this happen, even on the most discouraging days when it seemed impossible that we might make our goal. Love u, Mark!

***

The mission of Query Books is to find and reprint lost or forgotten LGBT books that are classics, of historical interest, or just well-loved!

It started with a conversation. While hosting a brunch for NYT bestselling author Emma Donoghue (writer of the award-winning film Room, now in theaters), she mentioned that her first book is out of print. Dismayed, I went back to my office and looked up LGBTQ books remembered from my days as the Buyer for A Different Light Bookstore. Many of them no longer seem to be available. It looks as if, in these heady days of newly-won acceptance, some of the books that shaped a community for decades (before positive LGBTQ characters existed on film and television) might never be passed to new generations of younger readers.

We are bridging that generational gap. We want to make sure that these seminal, groundbreaking works are still available for those who care about their community and its unique stories, culture, and sensibility. The books will be repackaged with a fresh layout and new introductions. We’ll be doing print books and digital.

But Query Books is also a curated series, so the cover designs will have a family resemblance. That way, someone who enjoys one will easily identify other books in the series. We want the books to reach larger audiences in other communities, as well as schools and libraries.

Query Books needs your help! We are running a Kickstarter campaign, so that we can cover the up-front costs of the first few books and get the ball rolling for this project. Please take a look at the column to your right and make a pledge right now!

We need to raise at least $15,000. In the world of publishing, that is not a lot of money. But this is a new way of doing the book business—crowd-funded and social media propelled.

To do this, we need you to join us in support, both financially and to help spread the word.

Whether you can afford $20 or $250, your donations will add up as you tell your friends and network. We’ve been coming up with some great ways to say thank you!

Right now is the right time for Query Books! What used to be ‘the love that dares not speak its name’ is now talked about everyday on every news channel. But how did we get here? This is the moment where people are starting to look back on the early years of gay life, lesbian community, queer organizing, and transgender visibility; and making connections back to the women’s movement and the civil rights era.

Some examples of 'looking back' are Alyssia Abbot’s memoir Fairyland, about her childhood growing up in 1980s and 90s Castro and Haight Ashbury; Sean Strub’s book Body Counts, reliving the height of the AIDS era when he began his activism in New York City. And Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, her story of being a lesbian with a gay father which is now one of Broadway's biggest hits of the year. My point is, gay is in the air, and everybody’s interested.

If you’re a young person that is curious what LGBT life was like in the 1980s—or the 50s, or the 20s for that matter—this project is for you.

If you’re an older reader who remembers that books were the first place where you saw your life reflected, and the only place you could see yourself for decades, than this project is for you to pass on your legacy and your life story.

Please consider giving financial support to Query Books. And even more important, please share this campaign to your lists, friends and family, and on social media.

I am totally excited about creating Query Books. I hope you are too! As we are doing this campaign, I am also busy at work on our first couple of books. We hope to have the first one or two out in time for this holiday season, with your help!

*  *  *       * * *     * * *       * * *

Sneak Preview: you are the first to know that one of our inaugural titles will be Coming Unbuttoned by James Broughton. 

Broughton was a poet and underground film maker from the 50s through the 80s. His 1968 film The Bed, full of joyful nude people cuddling on an outdoor brass bed that rolled down a hill, is a classic independent film whose cast includes Imogen Cunningham. In 2014 a biopic called Big Joy was released about Broughton, and interest in his life is higher now than it's been for years. We are publishing in partnership with Stephen Silha's Big Joy, the Movie, an ongoing project which will receive all of the royalties of this edition of Broughton's book.

James Broughton
James Broughton

His 1993 memoir, Coming Unbuttoned, is James' playful account of growing up in San Francisco and Modesto and becoming an artist in the closeted New York of the 1950s. Query Books has been working on cover art and layout. And, special thanks to Big Joy producer Stephen Silha who is providing us with some thank you gifts. Of course, digital or print copies are also available as rewards. (Check out ALL of the rewards on the right!) 

Our next book is not a classic exactly, but it was too fun to pass up! When Meg Murray first printed the San Francisco Drag Queen Coloring Book, she had no idea what a hit it would become! She sold out of all 500 copies in about a month and it's been unavailable ever since. We loved it, so we're putting out a new, improved edition with better binding and a more professional job overall.

Our Team

Our Kickstarter campaign team is being headed by Mark Freeman and Michael McNamara, along with Meg Murray, Nick Barber and Marcus Perry, and I’m so grateful! 

Thanks also to Michael Starkman for the gorgeous Query Books logo and graphics, and muchas gracias to Nathaniel Walters, who did an amazing job editing our Kickstarter video!

Risks and challenges

The Query Books project has many steps involved, but we're already well on our way. We've formed a Limited Liability Company, we've got our first publishing contract in hand, and we're setting up a volunteer network of book industry pros to give us good advice.

Research is a big step. Not only must we figure out which books are out of print but which are valuable to reprint. We'll also need to track down the author or the author's estates to secure print rights.

Design is an important factor, and we are working with artist Michael Starkman to create graphics that are both stylish and contemporary. A uniform but not identical look is what we think for the book jackets. We want them to have a family resemblance. Starkman designed our Q and our logo, and we couldn't be more thrilled with his work!

Query Books will need to acquire a block of ISBNs (book id numbers), which, shockingly, costs in the several hundreds of dollars. We will also need spending money to set up printing and digital distribution, and develop some marketing.

Query Books will occasionally need the advice of an attorney familiar with the regulations around copyrighted material. We'll also need to find and pay writers to compose original introductions to these classic books, explaining why it's vital that the book is made available once again to readers all over the world.

Last, we'll need to set up a robust accounting system to track sales and inventory and to provide royalties to the author or their estate.

In many ways, I am in a pretty good position to be doing the work on this. I worked at San Francisco’s last LGBT bookstore, A Different Light, from 1991 to 2000, which in some ways was the golden decade of lesbian and gay literature. Most of that time I was the Book Buyer. I left ADL to do a stint in at HarperCollins Publishers in book marketing. Then I spent 11 years as a buyer and manager at the bookstore at SF State University (but I only dealt with regular-bookstore books, not textbooks!). Then I returned to my old neighborhood to manage Books Inc. in the Castro.

I served on the Board of Directors of the American Booksellers Association for six years, and I am currently on the Board of the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, which serves as a safety net for people who work in bricks & mortar bookstores around the country.

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Your own 200-word piece “This book saved my life!” to appear on Query Books’ website or FB page, if you like. And our thanks!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Invitation to the Query Books house party in San Francisco (airfare and hotel not included) on Saturday, Nov. 21 at 2PM; + thanks as above!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    NEW PERK! We are thrilled to be adding the SF Drag Queen Coloring Book to the reward for a $50 pledge. But it's LIMITED QUANTITY so pledge now to be the first on your block to own the new edition of the DQCB!

    Invitation to the Query Books house party in San Francisco (airfare and hotel not included) on Saturday, Nov. 21 at 2PM; + thanks as above!

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    ADDED PERK: You receive an out-of-print LGBT classic book:

    The Picture of Dorian Gray
    an Annotated, Uncensored Edition
    Oscar Wilde, annotated by Nicholas Frankel
    Oversize, hardcover editon, heavily illustrated in full color

    Here is Wilde’s classic novel, with tons of color and b&w pictures on nearly every page. Frankel provides lots of annotation and context along with the original, uncensored text that was never published in Wilde’s lifetime. (In fact, I’m not sure it was ever published before this 2011 edition from Belknap/Harvard University Press.) A gorgeous, out of print edition of a classic LGBT novel.

    This reward does not include other perks. Due to limited quantity, cannot be included in the higher reward levels.

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    Reward no longer available 1 backer
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Receive an e-book (digital) edition of Broughton's Coming Unbuttoned, the movie Big Joy streamed to your computer, and the knowledge that you got in on the ground floor—plus, of course, the Query Books party invitation and all of our thanks!

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    ADDED PERK: You receive an out-of-print LGBT classic book:

    Branded Youth & Other Stories
    Bruce Weber, photographer

    Bruce Weber is best known these days for being the artist behind the most outrageously sexy images at Abercrombie & Fitch, but his career goes back to early iconic Calvin Klein ads, work for GQ magazine, as well as films like Let’s Get Lost (a biopic of Chet Baker).

    Branded Youth is a photo essay about some, well, youths. I’m sure they’re quite sexy. Although probably not literally ‘branded.’ Actually, I can’t quite say for sure what’s on the inside because these limited-run, 1997 hardbound books are both still in its plastic wrap; it’s never been opened! Like new.

    This reward does not include other perks. Due to limited quantity, cannot be included in the higher reward levels.

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    Reward no longer available 2 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    You'll get the 1st Query Books PRINT edition of Coming Unbuttoned by James Broughton, the Query Books Tote Bag, a streaming copy of Big Joy, in addition to all the rewards above and our heartfelt thanks!

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    ADDED PERK: You receive an out-of-print LGBT classic book:

    Poems (limited edition)
    Madeline Gleason
    SIGNED!

    Published 1944, in San Francisco by Grabhorn Press, in a hardbound letterpress limited edition. Very elegant, printed in two colors on the inside. Gleason was a friend of James Broughton (Coming Unbuttoned). The poems are starry and visual with references to San Francisco and love on the eve of World War II. Has some water marks on the paper-over-board cover.

    “This is waste:
    That one is denied
    His desire
    Though he ride
    Through fire
    And Smoke
    And falling oak;”

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Our limited quantity **Everything Package!** Tote Bag, print copy of our 1st book --James Broughton’s Coming Unbuttoned-- and the Big Joy DVD (Stephen Silha’s award winning documentary about Broughton, with all the extras), plus our new QB edition of the Drag Queen Coloring Book with at least one page signed! In addition to the above rewards, all the thanks in the world.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    12-month subscription to all books published by Query Books, & Tote Bag; plus all the awards from the $200 category, with our thanks for your faith in us!

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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $525 or more About $525

    ADDED PERK: You receive an out-of-print LGBTQ (but mostly G&Q) magazine collection:

    XY Magazine for Young Gay Dudes, 1996-2001
    Collection of issues #1 through #33
    (missing issues #4, 5, 23, 30 and 32)

    Highly collectible series of magazines. Ostensibly created for a younger crowd in their coming-out years, they feature lots of color photographs of shirtless or otherwise briefly-clad skinny youths (but no nudity), in between articles about coming out at school, being a gay skateboarder, dating issues, stuff like that. This is a nearly complete library of the first five years of the magazine, and each issue has collectibility even on its own. Conditions vary, mostly very good.

    This reward does not include other perks. Due to limited quantity, cannot be included in the higher reward levels.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    you'll receive everything included in the $500 category, plus an Asian dinner for four with Publisher Ken White (at your home in the SF Bay Area, or Ken's home in San Francisco), with our profound gratitude!

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Funding period

- (25 days)