Every so often there comes a book that you just can’t put down. You find yourself laughing and learning and very soon sharing with your spouse or friends. Often such a book is on a subject that you love. Rarely is it on a subject you abhor – like punctuation and grammar.
Yes, I admit, I am a book publisher who did better in math than English on the SATs. While my high school writing teacher (and baseball coach) enjoyed my work and had me read it to the class, I was never a lover of the subject. Mr. Haag, whom we nicknamed “The Tin Man” for his lack of a pumping muscle inside his ribcage, made 9th grade English a chore. Admittedly, I did receive A’s in his class, but they were brutal to achieve. Suffice to say, despite my advanced degree in business, mastery of the written word was not envisioned in my future. When I was running a software consulting firm in the ’90s I never imagined I’d be running a book publishing company two decades later, let alone enjoying editing other people’s work, let alone writing my own.
Alas, a good friend told me about this little book by the head of copy editing at Random House — Benjamin Dreyer — entitled Dreyer’s English. In my opinion, it is an instant classic. It is both humorous and educational. It is a book in which the footnotes are just as interesting and funny as the main text, similar to the subscripts at the beginning of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. No, a moose did not bite Benjamin’s sister. But you do get a silly anecdote about a time an author left out an absolutely necessary serial comma and another about the “actual” difference between grey and gray. One reviewer described it as “pithy.” I humbly agree. It is pithy as pithy can be.
I highly recommend this book to our authors and employees alike — as well to my adult children, coworkers, and clients. This is a writing guide that educates and entertains. If only Haag had been like Dreyer, God rest his soul (Haag’s).
As of this writing, we are about to hold our third imprint meeting. The first two, with Hellbender Books and Ars Metaphysica authors went very well. There was a lot of positive energy on the calls and the exchange of ideas was more than one-way. At Hellbender, it was decided to produce a compilation of short stories by our authors. There was also collaboration regarding our BookSpeak Network podcast programming. Likewise, at Ars Metaphysica, there was a lot of sharing regarding media opportunities. So far, so good. Next up is Brown Posey Press later this month. Milford House Press and Sunbury Press will follow and then we’ll start the cycle again. Our regular interaction should help build and grow our opportunities.
In the meantime, we have embarked on our most aggressive growth effort to date. Too many of you have been waiting too long to get started while we’ve been shifting our mix. Recently, we realized we have among the 1000+ manuscript proposals per year at least another 100+ quality opportunities. In order to move faster and do more, we have split our process onto two primary tracks — nonfiction and fiction. Over the last 12 months, we published 118 titles. Over the next 12 months, we expect to produce over 200.
How, you ask? We have brought in publishing veteran Chris Fenwick to jumpstart our fiction backlog and new fiction acquisitions. Chris is a publishing polymath who can quickly move books through the process — a process she helped start during the early days of Sunbury Press when she brought us our first fiction manuscript that jumped to #1 in visionary fiction. She has experience at other publishers and has a keen eye for quality and efficiency.
Many of you may have noticed movement on your manuscripts in the last month. Chris has been picking up a bunch as has Jen’s team. You may also be so lucky to have me working with you. It is all hands on deck at this time as we catch up the backlog and attend to the new in a more agile fashion.