Just as I was about to publish the post below, I suddenly realized that there was something about March 10th that was ringing a bell. What could it be? It's early in the morning and I'm very, very sleepy, so it took a while to come to me, but finally I remembered. March 10th, 2013 was the very first Furrowed Middlebrow post. It's hard to believe it has been three years, and a little bit hard to recognize that the person writing that first post is the same as the person writing this one. If I had thought of it sooner, I could have bored you all with some wordy musings about that, but as it happens, the post I was starting to publish is not really at all inappropriate to the occasion (at least the second bit of publishing news, if not the first). Things do have a way of continuing to evolve. But at any rate, happy birthday to me!
Seeing that my focus here is so often on the obscurest of obscure authors, it's rare that I am anywhere close to being timely with a bit of publishing news, but, wonder of wonders, I actually have two pieces of news to share today. And not only that, but both bits of news have a connection to the fantasizing I have often done here about doing some publishing of my own…
One of the authors I've occasionally fantasized about bringing back into print is the wonderfully charming Margery Sharp, and although I might be slightly disappointed that I can no longer fantasize about publishing her myself, I am delighted that, as it turns out, she will need no help from me. I got a notification last week from the good folks at Open Road Media that they're releasing not one, not two, not even five, but ten of Sharp's novels in e-book format.
The books will be available on April 12th, and the ten titles they've selected span most of Sharp's career. Here's the complete list:
The Flowering Thorn (1934)
The Nutmeg Tree (1937)
Cluny Brown (1944)
Britannia Mews (1946)
The Gypsy in the Parlour (1954)
The Eye of Love (1957)
Something Light (1960)
Martha in Paris (1962)
Martha, Eric, and George (1964)
The Innocents (1972)
Sharp has received a lot of attention from bloggers in recent years (I posted a review of The Nutmeg Tree just a few months ago—you can read it here—and I discussed The Stone of Chastity in my "possibly Persephone" list here). I know that Cluny Brown, with its immediate pre-WWII setting, is also a favorite of many readers, and Brittania Mews is set partly in wartime).
Open Road has kindly sent me review copies of two of the titles I haven't previously read, so you'll definitely be hearing more about those in the next few weeks. But I couldn't wait to share the news that some of Sharp's best work will now—finally!—be more readily available. Here's hoping that they'll be a roaring success for Open Road and more titles will be forthcoming (I know some of you are particularly holding out hope for her vanishingly rare debut, Rhododendron Pie). Fingers crossed.
So that's the first bit of news, which you might perhaps have already heard about elsewhere. But the next bit of news is absolutely an exclusive, and I know that for certain, because it pertains to me and I've not told a soul (except Andy, of course, but he's good at keeping mum).
It all started with that massive $1.5 billion Powerball lottery jackpot that was making everyone berserk just after the New Year. No, I didn't win it—obviously, or I would be sharing pics of our new London townhouse by now (let's see, Bloomsbury has a most convenient proximity to the British Library and St. Pancras, but we also quite enjoyed staying in Pimlico… Hmmm). But during all of the furor, I was having a conversation with a co-worker—that conversation we've all had at some time or another, about what we'd do if we won all that money. I said that although I wouldn't work full-time, I would certainly do some publishing of some of the really great books I've run across that deserve to be in print but aren't. (Living in London, I would also have to have In 'n' Out Burger delivered transatlantically on a regular basis, but that's perhaps not relevant here.)
Now, I've written here many times before about my publishing fantasies, probably ad nauseum, and nothing has ever inspired me to do anything about it. It has always seemed completely undoable and overwhelming and hopeless and all the other self-defeating adjectives you can think of.
But this time, perhaps because of the proximity to New Year's and that mad inclination toward resolutions that strikes at that time of year, I suddenly thought, "Well, what can it hurt to poke around a bit and try to find out what's involved and whether it's remotely feasible to do as a sideline?" I still assumed that nothing would come of it, of course, but at least I would have some facts to back up my hopelessness.
So before the inspiration wore off, I quickly emailed several people I thought might know a bit about independent publishing. They all gave me helpful replies, but one, who happened to be a publisher himself, said he'd be happy to give me advice and suggestions, or, alternatively, I could collaborate with him. Why, he asked, if I was amenable, didn't I send him some of the titles I was thinking of and he'd see what he could learn about the rights and the feasibility of publishing them?
Within a few days, we had a rough plan of attack and he was requesting rights for some of my most fantasized-about titles. There is surely some sort of object lesson here about at least having a look-see into the things you've fantasized about but assume are impossible. At any rate, saying "what can it hurt" certainly paid off in this case.