Working on the Best Side of the Books Business

When I was twenty-two years old, I moved to Paris.  I craved the flexibility of an unstructured, lawless life, governed by creativity and self: the freedom to write or drink wine late into the hours of the night without some arbitrary wake-up call the next morning. Without someone telling me what to do, just because others were so keen to live this way.

Writers, in my both my personal and professional experience, are often as self-conscious, despairingly so, as they are ambitious. Because they are driven by the vocation of writing — in its original sense, a calling — they are capable of the longest hours, the most maniacal and solitary confinement required of the craft.

This penchant for maniacal focus, and also for personal freedom, makes writers a lot like entrepreneurs.

I left France for the simple reason that in New York, unlike Paris, you can hang a shingle on your door, and with a little luck, carve a business from out of a passion — in my case, a passion for authors and literature, a passion I could only understand because I felt it at my own core, years ago.

As I close my office for the holiday season, I look happily back at the first year as a new company, trying to do something very different for writers, as a marketing person and tech enthusiast who also gets the very personal and particular business of authors, not as robotic producers of content, even as I believe the more “robotic” technology offerings out there will be needed to promote the work of any author, at any stage of recognition. I very much believe every work is important and every marketing campaign should be carefully tailored accordingly.

This week alone, I’m amazed at the successes large and small, but certainly frequent, of my authors, and am particularly proud of those who, new to social media, have really become knowledgeable and dominant in it. Sonia Taitz, a new Twitter guru, received a recent rave review in Sunday’s New York Times. For a book published by a small press, this was a coup that proved In the King’s Arms as the little novel that could. And another novelist, Douglas Kennedy’s has established an incredible new blog, currently featuring a short story on Vegas written for French Vogue. (I love this piece, by the way. I wish more of my French friends knew about Vegas–more than say, Chicago.) On Douglas’ blog, you can read the most literary and thought-provoking essays for free from a bestselling author, because…didn’t the best of writers think their work should live in the public domain? (Imagine if Tolstoy took to blogging.)

I think about what this coming year will mean to two of my talented and lovely debut authors, Susan Weissman and Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner, whose first books publish this March.  How many hours between the moment we lift the pen to the moment we receive our first publishing contract? From the moment we see that first Huffington Post feature or New York Times Review?

I see 2012 as a year where only more options will emerge for the visibility of books. Whether someone steps to the plate to decide the future of publishing, or whether authors decide it for themselves, there’s alot, on this side of the books business, to look forward to.

As one of my authors is fond of saying: Onwards.

 

Dr. Jeffrey Rubin

“The Art of Flourishing is more than a practical manual for flourishing in these turbulent times. It offers step-by-step procedures for broadening the scope of one’s own well-being while deepening intimate relationships. But more, it displays Dr. Rubin’s profound wisdom of the human psyche. His many years of uniquely combining the best of Eastern and Western approaches in his own life and as a psychotherapist make this book a treasure.” — Joel Kramer, coauthor of The Guru Papers and The Passionate Mind Revisited