Catapult, a new publisher and online platform, launched today. (Yes, as the Wall Street Journal noted last week, it's funded by Koch money. Not that Koch money.) Their first print book is a short story collection by Padgett Powell, and there are plenty more on the way.
Everybody in the book business is very excited about Catapult for a number of reasons: first up, they're publishing a lot of great stories on the site for their first day, including one from Joy Williams. Also, they're inviting writers to share stories about their process; Sarah Gerard has written a story about teaching a writing class the day after the recent mass shooting in Charleston.
But maybe the most exciting part of the site is the Community page, which invites writers to share stories and invites readers to offer feedback on those stories. Catapult will publish pieces from the Community page and pay writers for their work. There have been plenty of attempts to offer aspiring writers a platform and a virtual workshop for their fiction, but like most attempts to build communities online, most of those sites have not worked out. (Wattpad is probably the closest thing to a success on that front so far.) Will Catapult become a home for aspiring authors? It's possible; someone will get it right at some point. In any case, based on my Twitter feed this morning, the site is building up a tremendous store of goodwill from virtually every aspect of the publishing industry. Let's hope Catapult uses that goodwill to launch (sorry) some exciting diverse voices into the publishing business.