Leaning In to Nonfiction

There’s nothing like fiction, but it is hard to sell.  They told us it would be but we had to see for ourselves.

David KranesOur title, The Legend’s Daughter, by David Kranes is out.  Kranes’ stories are so good  he was recently asked for permission to publish his short story “Theresa” in an anthology of contemporary literature selected and translated by Haruki Murakami. Some of the other authors to be included in the anthology are Richard Ford, Tobias Wolff, Alice Munro, Maile Maloy, Peter Stamm, Lauren Groff, and Jim Shepard.  That is impressive company.  But not impressive enough to move the sales needle.

Jana Richman’s The Ordinary Truth, a story about water and the West, recently was well reviewed by Michael Englehard in High Country News, a magazine “for people who love the West.”  We were delighted — thank you HCN! — yet again the sales needle did not move.

You get the picture.  We are going to continue to publish excellent literary fiction because it is what we love.  But we plan to cut it back to one book in eight instead of the other way around.  Our goal as an environmental publisher is to add to the cultural conversation in such a way that more water is left in the streams and more wildflowers on the mountains.  Because topical nonfiction can better reach an audience, we are going to lean in that direction.

Environmentalism tends to be a progressive cause.  It is an oddity in our western culture that conservatives are not into conservation.  Extraction, consumption and anti-environmentalism is essentially a political platform for the right.  Environmentalism, on the other hand, quickly leads to the progressive notions of social justice, ecological economics, sustainable living methods, feminism, green and natural community building, conscientious commerce, renewable energy, healthy food production, and the happy, compatible lifestyles that go with it.   To manage on the planet with 7 billion souls and growing we need ideas and we will be looking for the people with them.  We want to do our part to get these progressive ideas into the conversation by publishing books about them.  Our nonfiction titles coming up are a start in that direction and we want to do more.

We are also expanding into two new genres, mystery and young adult.  We are delighted to have a contract with Scott Graham of Durango, CO to launch a The National Park Mystery Series and with Melanie Bishop of Carmel, CA and Prescott, AZ on the young adult Tate McCoy Series.  Both will have background environmental themes and will tell stories that are attractive to a broader audience than literary fiction might be.

Sounds like fun to me.  -Mark Bailey, Co-Publisher

About Torrey House Press

Torrey House Press is an independent nonprofit publisher promoting environmental conservation through literature.   We believe that culture is changed through conversation and that lively contemporary literature is the cutting edge of social change. By building and engaging community in the conversation of conservation, we make our contribution to, as Wallace Stegner hoped for, a “society to match the scenery." THP books are distributed by Consortium Books Sales and Distribution, a subsidiary of Ingram Content Group.
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