THE BLOG

Acknowledging a Gentleman Publisher -- Emphasis on Gentleman!

10/01/2012 12:43 pm ET | Updated Dec 01, 2012

Writing a novel is an adventure, or certainly should be. If you like to write -- and I've never understood those writers who proudly declare that they hate to write -- it's one of those wonderful adventures full of fun, self-revelations, and good times -- if not always good food. An adventure you're likely to enjoy but one that wouldn't in itself, ironically enough, make a good novel. Modern publishing of the major metropolitan variety is also an adventure. However, it can be, so I've heard, so full of danger, villains, near-death experiences, disappointment, and extreme regret, that it would make a cracking good yarn, although the writer might not come out the hero, that being reserved for some corporate functionary in charge of a bottom line.

This is why I would like to acknowledge the publisher of my new science fiction satire, Traveling in Space, Dave Doody of Blüroof Press, who is also a Caltech employee at JPL/NASA guiding the journeys of our robotic Lewis & Clarks to the planets. 

Dave's dear sister Mary Kay Doody, who died last year, was a publisher. Dave, though, is new to business. But not to books, as both an author and reader. He is also a lover of typography and all the mechanical ways good and attractive type is allowed to grace the eyes of readers. It is a love that takes the mind of an engineer and the heart of an artist 

I met Dave through our mutual friend, the longtime Hollywood manager and producer, Ken Kragen. After a couple great conversations about his work and our shared love of science, and before he ever thought to become a publisher, I asked him to read the manuscript of Traveling in Space to check my "take" on the scientists, both human and alien, who populate my novel's story. I figured if anyone could tell me where I might have got it wrong about scientists it would be Dave, who works in the wheelhouse of real rocket-ships full of real scientists, so to speak.

Later, after telling me I did indeed get scientists right, he came to tell me how, as a lover of books and of the art of typography, he had become fascinated with the new technologies of on-demand publishing and e-printing, and that he was publishing his second book himself (his first was published by Springer, 2009). 

He asked would I mind if he helped me publish Traveling in Space. I was, firstly, flattered, and secondly, curious. Then you are becoming a publisher? I asked. No, no, he said, I just love books and want to see if I can help works I admire see the light of day. Oh, I said, so then you are becoming a Gentleman Publisher. He didn't know what I meant, but he said the reader is the whole reason.

And so Blüroof Press has been born, and Dave has become a gentleman publisher. It is a bit of an old category for the twenty-first century, but a rather fine one, I think, for now it can mean a publisher who is applying this century's technologies to an old world idea: the discovery and passionate publishing and promotion of books the publisher cares about. This Blüroof does not cover a huge, corporate entity whose endowment is "protected," heaven forbid, from decisions made by artists and authors. Rather, this Blüroof shields an author from downpours of decisions by the controller-accountant penthouse suite in some corporate mansion. If Dave profits from this venture -- and I truly hope he does -- he is likely to consider it his reward, not his due.

Working with Dave has been a joy. 

His delight in our endeavor (if Dave had a dollar for every time he has turned to me and said, "This is fun," he would already be in profit), his encouragement, his sense of excitement, and his very accurate eagle-editorial-eye has made the publishing of Traveling in Space an adventure as wonderful as the writing of it -- even if it wouldn't make a good novel to amuse the masses.