At Torrey House we are wrapping up our first publication season with national distribution to the book trade and we continue to learn. We have seven titles out and three ready for the upcoming spring/summer season. Two of the forthcoming titles are nonfiction and the rest are novels or short stories. We are finding that while we continue to have a big affinity toward literary fiction in our niche, we will want to get more topical nonfiction out in order to stay afloat. Literary fiction is a giant genre in which it is difficult to stand out, to put it mildly. Topical, environmental nonfiction has a smaller, more focused market in which it is easier to identify and reach interested readers.
Take, for example, the title The Straw Bale House, published by our admired competitor, Chelsea Green Publishing Company. As Chelsea Green points out, if you search online for “straw bale house,” their book is going to show up prominently. It is hard to do the same for a title in fiction. Unless you know the author or the title or both, you will be long in the search before one of our fiction titles show up. Chelsea Green has sold a lot of copies of their title, a quantity at this point that THP can only dream about.
We are enthusiastic about balancing out our mix of fiction and nonfiction. The environmental movement can use all the boost it can get. When my son started in the Environmental Studies program at Prescott College in 2006, I thought he was going to catch a big green wave in his career. Climate change and environmental concerns were frequently on the cover of national and international magazines. Republicans and Democrats alike voiced frequent concern for protection of the planet. But by the elections of 2012, global warming and man-made climate change were never even mentioned in the presidential debates. With the coming of the Great Recession and an active anti-science PR campaign by Big Oil and its lackeys, environmentalism has become a political nonstarter and in the economy of today my son is having a hard time finding a job in his field. Meanwhile we have record heat waves, record Arctic polar cap ice melts, mega storms like Sandy and epic droughts in the West. With 7 billion souls now on the planet and growing, humans are the major natural force of change on the planet. Given our ability to exercise reason, Torrey House thinks we humans ought to put it to greater use regarding our impact on the environment.
Therefore we are calling for lively, controversial, leading edge manuscripts on topics like water catchment, public land use, environmental health, environmental economics, sustainable living, renewable energy, land use policy, the importance of wilderness, the trans-formative power of natural places, environmental building and landscape design, about how small is beautiful, the local food and business movement and other ideas of enlightened, sustainable living. If you think you have something along these lines, check out our submissions guidelines and show us what you have. And, please, tell a friend.