“I most enjoy working with our writers to bring their visions to life, and hopefully exceed their expectations for what their books could be.”
Why did you become a book publisher? I am a long-time publication designer and former editor. I started Ruka Press to be able to exercise these skills on personal projects I'm passionate about and to share great ideas with the world. I'm not a self-publisher — I have no interest in writing books at this time. But I thought there was an opportunity in today's market for a very small publisher with a fairly traditional model, low overhead, and a high standard of quality to compete and prosper. We only average about a book a year, and I still spend most of my time designing publications for others.
What do you like best about publishing? I most enjoy working with our writers to bring their visions to life, and hopefully exceed their expectations for what their books could be. Spending months involved in a book project, worrying over every detail, and finally ending up with a product that not only looks good, but can make a difference in the world, is very exciting.
What do you publish? Non-fiction adult trade books with environmental and nature themes
What is the most effective form of marketing for your press? Our authors have been the most effective marketing, particularly getting out and talking to people. TV and radio appearances by our authors, although sometimes hard to come by, have been golden.
How do you define a successful title? A successful book for us is well written, well designed, and finds its audience. Hopefully it does better than break-even business.
Tell us about one of your titles about which you are especially proud. I'm proud of all my children. Our first book, "Among the Ancients: Adventures in the Eastern Old Growth Forests," has been very successful and continues to sell. It's a beautifully written meditation on the beauty and value of old-growth forests and a travel guide all in one. It was an interesting challenge to design, and I continue to be pleased with how it came out. I'm also very excited about our forthcoming book, "Eat Local for Less," which is a lot of fun to read, and which we think will do very well.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving success? The two biggest challenges have been finding authors with books that meet our criteria and are good enough to get excited about, and getting attention from the media for our books.
What advice do you have for newcomers to book publishing? Invest in quality. Publishing something that is well edited, well designed, and well printed makes a huge difference in the marketplace. If you don't have those skills, hire someone who does (shameless self-promotion: you can hire me at Sensical Design).
How will you and your company be positioned in five years? Hopefully I'll still be working on interesting book projects. They may be beamed directly into the cerebral cortex rather than printed by then, who can say?
When you're not fully immersed in publishing, what do you do for fun? I play the ukulele, bike, cook, read novels, and watch baseball and basketball games (sometimes several of these at once).
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