Karma Bennett loves her job. A publicist at Ulysses Press, one of the fastest growing publishers for two consecutive years according to PW, she gets to “send free books to journalists! What could be better?”
Ulysses Press started out as a company selling travel guides, then branched out to publish health and spirituality titles. “Now we have shifted gears entirely and we are following what the publisher calls the ‘auteur publishing’ style. We seek out the nation’s hottest trends and scout out an author to write about them,” explains Karma.
One particular book she’s been excited about is Godless by Dan Barker. “The author was a well-known fundamentalist Christian preacher and songwriter,” she explains. “His book documents his journey from there to becoming the co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and co-host of the nation’s only atheist radio show.”
From her work at Ulysses, Karma understands a thing or two about the industry. “People always try to emphasize with writers that publishing is a business, but I never really got that until I worked [at Ulysses]. It doesn’t matter how good your book is, if the major chains don’t buy it, no one is ever going to see it.”
However, she does concede that “the internet is the killer. I think the companies that embrace change will survive and thrive as something new and different. The profit model may change, and the delivery format will change, but people still want to read.”
A lover of books, whose favorite authors include Kurt Vonnegut, Toni Morrison, Douglas Adams, Jonathon Safran Foer, she hasn’t bought an electronic reader yet. “I spend all day looking at a screen! It is a joy to get a dusty tome in my hands, where others have dog-eared it and highlighted and made notes and spilled coffee. It’s personal. Maybe when the Kindle can reproduce that, I’ll switch.”
Originally from Florida, Karma has lived in the Bay Area for three years, currently in North Oakland. Her favorite places are in the Mission, because it’s “filled with delicious taquerias. I love Café Havana on Valencia.” However, she also likes to dance, and “the Mission is terrible for that.”
It’s obvious that Karma loves working in publishing, especially on the West Coast. “It’s very laid back, and I think less competitive too. New York is the center of it all and I think they take that very seriously. Way over in California we publishers stick together because we’re like, “Hey, New York, remember us? We’re making books too!”