Wednesday, December 22, 2010

DEATH AND LIFE

DEATH:

After watching an old Dick Cavett show, Judy recently asked me a question that Cavett asked of a guest, “What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?” My answer was “Living to be 76 years old.”

In my last blog I wrote about the passing of three of our authors. A week ago I learned that Phil Wood died at his home in San Francisco on December 11th after a long battle with cancer. He was 72. In 1971—after working as a salesman for Penguin—he started his own press with Anybody’s Bike Book, and named his company Ten Speed Press. It was followed by What Color Is Your Parachute which has sold 10 million copies world-wide over the past 40 years and still remains in print. With an eclectic mix of titles—including some wonderful cookbooks (we sold Phil four of them—agenting two and packaging two more), Ten Speed was an incredibly successful independent press until it was sold to Random House in 2009 where it is now an imprint of Crown.

A week earlier I discovered that Stephen Minot, novelist, teacher, short story and textbook writer died on December 1, in Riverside, California, of a stroke. He was 83. We published two books of his: a short story collection, Bending Time, and his famous novel Surviving the Flood, Ham’s “Official Report of the Book of Genesis,” described in The New York Times as a “lively, at times bawdy story.” Other common ground I shared with Minot is that during the Vietnam War he counseled young men in applying for conscientious-objector status.

As soon as I read about Phil Wood’s passing I told Cathy Suter, who works in our office, that I wanted to call my next blog Death and Life, and wondered when my own obituary would appear. Then I walked into the kitchen, opened the pantry door, found a fortune cookie left over from a take-out order two days earlier, broke it in half and started chewing as I looked at my fortune which read—I kid you not—“You will be blessed with longevity.”

This was very encouraging because Judy and I love what we do and want to keep it rolling as long as possible. There is nothing more exciting than finding a fine manuscript and sharing it with the larger world. And unlike Ten Speed, we never grossed enough income that would tempt a large corporate publisher to continue this work when time runs out for us.

LIFE:

So, being still blessed with sound minds and bodies, here’s a season ending toast to “Life” and to some recent things we’ve been doing to bring a fuller life to the novels we’re publishing:

I’ve mentioned in the past Leonard Rosen’s debut thriller, All Cry Chaos, which we are publishing in September. When we first read his manuscript we thought it had the makings of an international thriller, as this tale takes place in France, Bosnia, Belgium, the Netherlands, and America, while touching on so many of the chaotic events plaguing the world today. We printed 800 galley copies and, to date, have sold rights to five publishers who will be releasing this mystery with us: Flamma (Spain), Epsilon (Turkey), De Arbeiderspers (The Netherlands), La Courte Echelle (French Canadian), and Blackstone Audiobooks (U.S.A.). And since word-of-mouth is what stimulates both buzz and sales, we have made All Cry Chaos available on Kindle, iPAD, and NOOK—a full nine months in advance of the release of this book itself—in order to get the word-of-mouth going. More information about Len Rosen’s thriller can be found both on our website (Forthcoming Books) and on Len’s website .

We are doing similar electronic sales for Marc Schuster’s The Singular Exploits of Wonder Mom & Party Girl—another very special novel—five months in advance of this book’s release in May. This first novel, a hip, contemporary satire is perfectly balanced on the slim tightrope between comedy and tragedy. It’s about the perfect mother who, when her husband abandons her for a younger model, navigates the world of single parenthood and soon becomes a contemporary female Jekyll and Hyde, juggling cocaine and partying with motherhood, and not doing too well at either. Wonder Mom is also listed under Forthcoming Titles on our website. The novelist M.F. Bloxam describes it as “Part cautionary tale, part comic romp—a high speed trip through a funhouse suburbia of addiction and middle class angst.” Marc Schuster, is one of the most gifted book reviewers I’ve ever read as his postings on Small Press Reviews and the New York Journal of Books will testify.

We’re hopeful that these well-in-advance sales of electronic books will pay dividends and we will be monitoring them to see if we might expand this availability.

May the New Year be a good one for one and all!

As always, I welcome your comments. More information about our own books can be found in the Newsletter on our website.

Marty

6 comments:

  1. May you truly be blessed with longevity!

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  2. May you and Judy continue your good work for many years to come.

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  3. These sound like fun titles. And the kindle releases sound an interesting idea, as do releases all around the world.

    I'd never thought to wonder how old you and Judy might be. Wishing you longevity and a new year full of wonderful books.

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  4. This is a fine, reflective,hopeful greeting for the new year - a wonderful invitation to readers to continue to keep the faith.

    joan baum

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  5. At forty-five, death and the prospect of my imminent oblivion haunt most of my waking hours. Those of us who are marked for early deaths know it. I can only imagine in horror what life must feel like for a thinking person over sixty. I'm walking on eggshells as it is, expecting a massive heart attack pretty much all the time. They say if you get past your fifties, you'll make old bones.

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  6. Marty,
    I don't read your blog very often, as you know I don't think about books very much. But as today is my 83d birthday I found Judy's question very interesting and thought about my answer.
    My achievement is that I think I still have people who care about me nearby. As you know I am an old curmudgeon and the fact that these people still are present in my life is quite an achievement. I hope they stay in it for the long haul.

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