Forming a publishing company was something that had teased the back of my mind throughout my years in publishing. I think most people in the industry have that fantasy, even if just for a minute, about opening up their own business. The thing is, not only does it have to be the right time, you have to launch with the right people.
I’ve loved books from the time I was a child. I come from an immigrant family that didn’t put a high price on reading. We did not get books for Christmas. We didn’t have story time (not even at bed). In fact, my parents didn’t really read English. So my love for books and reading was completely organic. I craved books, and I knew at the age of 10 that I wanted to write. I had no idea at the time what I would write or even what that meant, but I knew I wanted it. Even though I entertained thoughts of becoming other things in high school (one year, I wanted to become a veterinarian; another year, I wanted to be a psychologist), my interest in writing never waned. In college, I majored in Writing and Literature, and decided that if I couldn’t write full time, I would go into the publishing industry, and that’s what I did.
Creating books is something that I’ve been doing my entire adult life, whether it was sizing art for medical books, formatting charts and tables for financial manuals, shepherding manuscripts between departments, collaborating with designers on fiction covers, taking photos for more artistic titles, or guiding other writers on improving their work. Whatever the task, books have been a part of my daily life. But in most cases, I worked for other people—even as a fiction writer, my books belonged to other houses, and others called the shots for me and made the final decisions.
A couple of years ago, the idea of having my own publishing house started teasing the back of my brain again. I felt I’d hit a point in both my life and career when I could create books from start to finish—not just for myself but for others as well—and contribute experienced opinions and make skillful decisions. I knew I was ready to take the next step, but I still didn’t have all the right pieces, or more precisely, the right people. It wasn’t too long before I had the opportunity to meet my co-founders at Dirt Road Books. Some I’d known for years, but others I was meeting for the first time, and with each introduction, a little light went off. That teasing in my brain became a consistent pulse telling me that not only was this the right time, but I’d finally found the right people. I’d found my team.
As that idea took hold in my mind, I was also at a crossroads in my life (appropriate metaphor, no?). I could go in one direction—on a well-worn, mapped, paved street—and continue as I had been, following others. Or, I could finally take that burning desire to go my own way and put it into action. I could go down a new road, one that was unchartered, unmapped, dusty, and unfamiliar, but with so much promise. Like any new venture, I’m bound to get dirty. I’m bound to get lost. But the destination will be of my own making. Like my DRB partners, I’m committed to being the best writer and editor—and now publisher—that I can be. Dirt Road Books is something special.