“We felt that writers of contemporary literary fiction had too few outlets for their work and that many top-notch, challenging books were getting buried in closets or on disk drives.”
Why did you become a book publisher? We felt that writers of contemporary literary fiction had too few outlets for their work and that many top-notch, challenging books were getting buried in closets or on disk drives.
What do you like best about publishing? Schmoozing with authors, editors, and booksellers--or anyone else who loves books.
What do you publish? Literary fiction
What is the most effective form of marketing for your press? Author appearances and interviews.
How do you define a successful title? The number of copies sold is a rough gauge of the number of readers we’ve reached, but more important are the reactions we get from readers. For example, one reader recently wrote on Amazon that she’d downloaded a sample of one of our books because her husband, a “Facebook friend” of the author’s, urged her to. Despite starting out skeptical, she ended up loving the book, which she found “reminiscent of John Irving, perhaps even E.L. Doctorow.” That’s the kind of unsolicited praise that means the most to us.
Tell us about one of your titles about which you are especially proud. In Louis Greenstein’s novel MR. BOARDWALK, Jason Benson first experiences the wonders of Atlantic City at age seven. He’s smitten by the scene: the carousel music, the scent of Belgian waffles in the air, the freak shows and bellowing barkers. Soon Jason decides his real life will happen here, in this magical shore town. Growing up in a Philadelphia suburb in the 1960s and 1970s, he lives only for summers on the boardwalk. From a gypsy friend the boy learns to juggle, and soon “Jason the Magnificent” entertains rapt beach side crowds. He can’t wait to finish high school so he can move to Atlantic City permanently. But more than 20 years later, we meet him as a grumpy New Yorker who has never spoken of his youth. All his adventures on the boardwalk--and all the dreams he cherished there--remain a secret from his wife. In deftly interwoven passages, MR. BOARDWALK traces the excitement and perils of the young Jason and the moral growth of the adult coming to terms with his past.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving success? Marketing and promotion, of course--finding ways to bring our books to readers’ attention.
What advice do you have for newcomers to book publishing? There’s no point in publishing books unless you have a true sense of mission. It’s hard work, and the financial rewards are chancy, so don’t start unless you really want to do this more than just about anything else.
How will you and your company be positioned in five years? I imagine I’ll still be in my chair, staring at the computer screen. The company, I hope, will have drawn significant attention as a house for contemporary fiction. We’ll still be very picky, though, about the titles we choose to publish.
When you're not fully immersed in publishing, what do you do for fun? I read books--hah! Also I go to the theater. In our area there’s a lot of crossover between drama and fiction writing, and people are doing amazing, inventive things in both genres.
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