Monthly Archives: March 2011

Site-Member Profile: Chicago Center for Literature and Photography (CCLaP)

Organization Name: Chicago Center for Literature and Photography (CCLaP)

Executive Director Name: Jason Pettus

Year Established: 2007

Contact Information:

Product/Service: CURRENT: Electronic books, reviews and critical essays, social events, manuscript editing services, and an interview-based podcast. COMING: Paper books, performance events, classes and workshops, merchandise, eventual brick-and-mortar location.

Unique Features/Competitive Advantage: Nonprofit-oriented but with an underlying commercial business structure, CCLaP works much more directly with its fans and members than traditional non-profits do to determine not only the center’s agenda but which types of artists to most heavily feature; and by generating its revenue through commercial products and services instead of nonprofit grants, the center is free of influence from pressure campaigns by conservative watchdog groups, allowing it to fulfill its mission of supporting edgy and independent artists much more fully.

By currently being a mostly electronic organization with only one paid employee, both overhead and production costs are nearly zero, allowing the center to try such press-friendly experiments as “pay what you want” electronic books and a Twitter-based story series, ironically generating a bigger audience than normal and a healthy financial profit, despite only 25 percent of the books’ readers being paying ones.

Biggest lesson learned in the last year: That success in the small-business world doesn’t gradually rise like a curving line on a graph, but rather in random starts and fits, which also doubles as “most surprising lesson learned in the last year.”

Many times we can toil on a project for months without even the least external sign of success or recognition, the very reason that so many non-business people call entrepreneurs hopeless dreamers when times are tough; what I’ve come to learn is that these might very well be the times when you’re creating the long-term respect in the backs of the minds of random strangers who will eventually bring a big boost to your organization, like a high-profile journalist or venture capitalist, and that it’s this quiet time of simply getting the work done that precisely creates this long-term respect in the first place.

It’s why overcoming self-doubt is such a hidden but important aspect of being a small-business owner.

Best advice for someone starting out: Dream big at first, and get a good mental picture of what you see your business looking like when running at full steam; then cut that dream down to a tenth of its former size, and first try getting that running smoothly before attempting anything else. As I’ve learned the hard way, by announcing small goals and then doing a little better than promised, you will gain an immense amount of respect and loyalty from your customers, no matter how modest those goals are; but by announcing an impressive goal and then not quite reaching it, you will garner almost nothing but ridicule.

Past activities: On November 29 Jason hosted a lively CCLaP event at Stage 773, with Nathan Rabin & Ben Tanzer. Author of the bestselling memoir The Big Rewind and now essay series My Year of Flops, Rabin and other “AV Club” staffers are regulars of the NPR and cable-talk-show circuit, as this former offshoot of the satirical publication The Onion has gained a life of its own in the past few years, and has become an outlet for some of the smartest and funniest critical essays currently being printed in this country. All of these subjects and more were discussed, first in a traditional one-hour sit-down interview in front of a live audience, then while taking those audience members’ questions for another half-hour. Cultishly loved local writer Ben Tanzer, whose four publications include the CCLaP books Repetition Patterns and 99 Problems, performed a brand-new 15-minute story on the subject of bad movies to open things up. After the event Rabin was available to sign his books, which were available for purchase in the lobby.

For information on the latest CCLaP events, check out:


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4 Creative ways to Start Your Day (via Leadership Freak)

Great ideas to consider!

4 Creative ways to Start Your Day 1. A strategy from Hemingway The Hemingway Bridge* In order to avoid starting a new day with a cold, blank piece of paper, Ernest Hemingway ended his day by writing the first paragraph of a new chapter. During the evening, he considered where the paragraph might go. In the morning, he was ready to go. One creative way to start your day is by starting it the day before. End today by starting tomorrow. 2. Sleep on it If you are the tenacious type i … Read More

via Leadership Freak

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Brand Love (via @karenbaglin)

Lots to think about here on Brands of all sorts!

Brands and branding have taken over my brain recently like an addiction.  Began with @berniebay emphasizing the need for personal branding in the ever-expanding social media environment and still uncertain economy. His message struck a chord:  moved to a sunny clime almost 18 months ago; bought a place and worked from home on a ‘Big Brand’ project until they didn’t renew.  Six months later was laid off in an area with 12% unemployment, where no o … Read More

via @karenbaglin

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Pay with a tweet : vendez votre produit pour le prix d’un tweet! « Marketing Web (via I am a Bridge (Hugues Rey Blog))

Interesting post on a fascinating new topic!

“Pay with a Tweet – A social payment system.” These aren’t my words. Instead, it is the name of a new payment concept developed by an interactive advertising agency called Innovative Thunder. Given the work we’ve been doing on social payments here at Glenbrook, we had to investigate this one.Here’s how it works. A seller registers a URL with Pay with a Tweet that points to some digital content they want to sell, and attaches a tweet to the URL. W … Read More

via I am a Bridge (Hugues Rey Blog)

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Tomando Ventaja: Hispanic Small Businesses and Social Media (via US Microfinance: ACCION Chicago)

by Mariola Janik Social media trainings – webinars, presentations, classes – have popped up everywhere. Utilizing different social media platforms is quickly becoming a key to communicating effectively with customers. While many small business owners struggle to determine how to use social media best, Hispanic small business owners are adapting well. In fact, they have embraced technology faster than any other demographic in the U.S., according t … Read More

via US Microfinance: ACCION Chicago

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Selling Snake Oil in the Age of Social Media (via Matt Moore Writes…)

Good points, useful to hear. It does seem like folks are almost rushing to create a new bubble du jour, an activity bubble of internet content/hype than seems inevitably heading towards its own crash of some kind. Sad, given how much important work there actually is to be done in these days of rapid, momentous changes.

In large organizations, we hire outside consultants and contractors to carry out large projects and take advantage of their expertise. In the age of Facebook and YouTube, experience in social media is a common perquisite to bid on communications contracts. And while thick, glossy bids arrive with examples of creating YouTube videos and launching Facebook pages, more and more I’m seeing that some so-called “experts” have pushed buttons or written … Read More

via Matt Moore Writes…

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Great Review of ‘Life After Sleep’

The DAILY s-PRESS reviews briefly CCLaP’s newest release, the futuristic Life After Sleep!

Always exciting to see the word get out.. Congrats Mark Brand (author) and Jason Pettus (publisher)!

CCLaP Publishing is an imprint of the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography (CCLaP), an organization dedicated to promoting the best of the underground and cutting-edge arts.

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