Monday, January 6, 2014

FICTION IS OUR MISSION

Following up my last blog on  December 11 ( AN OFFER THAT YOU CAN’T REFUSE, I Hope ) I wanted to end any suspense about who will be joining Judy and me as a working partner at The Permanent Press. It’s Chris Knopf, one of the most respected, and award-winning mystery writers in this field, a part-time neighbor, and a friend going back nine years after we read his first manuscript, The Last Refuge. Jim Milliot, broke the story in Publishers Weekly on December 23. We couldn't be happier, for Chris—being 17 years younger than we are—has all the skills to carry on after Father Time and Mother Earth conspire to put us underground.

Another item of significance concerns David Schmahmann’s novel The Double Life of Alfred Buber, which we began giving away in electronic format two weeks ago (and will continue to do so if you email us at info@thepermanentpress.com). Over two dozen people availed themselves of this offer and are passing it out to others they know. But there is now another significant development: in an email addressed to David on December 22, Victoria Alexander, who heads the Dactyl Foundation, wrote that “I am very pleased to inform you that your novel The Double Life of Alfred Buber has been chosen to receive the 2013 Dactyl Foundation Award for Literary Fiction. At Dactyl Foundation we understand that literary fiction is slow-growing and takes time to find its audience. Unfortunately, award competitions favor new books; they do not consider three-year-old novels, and reviewers are not generally interested in what came out last year. To help remedy this situation, Dactyl Foundation created Dactyl Review to provide exposure for and to award undersung works of literary fiction, those books which have not been properly recognized by the existing award / review / publishing system. Your $1,000 prize will be sent to you in care of your publisher. Thank you for accepting this award.


“Charles Holdefer nominated your novel by submitting a very nice review to Dactyl Review, our literary fiction community website. We hope that you will participate in the Dactyl Review community by nominating an author whom you admire by submitting a review.  Our goal at Dactyl Review is to build a community of literary writers who support each others’ work.”


How unusual—and proper, I think—is their take on awards without limiting it to year of publication. I urge any of our novelists(and others as well) to support them by sending in reviews of literary fiction they admire, and ultimately offer your own literary fiction for review. If interested, go to their website www.dactylreview.com and contact Victoria at alexander@dactyl.org.


Just days ago, Judy and I were wondering how it was that we eventually came to publish novels 95% of the time. My belief is that in any culture, at any age, the vast majority of the great books that are handed down, decade after decade and century after century are fiction. Following  Homer’s The Iliad and his sequel, The Odyssey, came the great novelists of  yesteryear: Dostoyevsky, Chekov, Gogol, Dickens, Chaucer, Jane Austin, Fitzgerald, Boccaccio, Umberto Eco, Dante, Italo Calvino, Rabelais, Hugo, Stendahl, Balzac, Halldor Laxness, Cervantes, Márquez, Kundera, Mark Twain, Faulkner, Hemingway, Dos Passos, Poe…the list is endless. So if one’s interest lies in discovering novelists who have the talent to write exceptional fiction, why not cultivate and publish them and hope some of them will make a contribution to our culture—which surely needs a lift, given the great decline in fiction in general and the astronomical rise in non-fiction, which includes celebrity bios and countless “How-To” books—how to lose weight, make money, find partners, find serenity, find God, evaluate collectables, write screenplays, prevent aging… this list is endless, as well, and unlikely to survive the test of time.


Judy’s take is quite different, and her reading interests more eclectic than mine (she’s currently reading the second volume of Robert Caro’s Pulitzer Prize series about Lyndon Johnson, each over 600 pages in length), But she sees a decided difference between fiction and non-fiction. Reading non-fiction she is a more detached observer, but when reading a good novel, she “enters” the world of the book and become more emotionally involved with the characters.


Judy suggested that my next blog should list some of our favorite Permanent Press titles published over the past 35 years, and I think that should be a worthwhile challenge.


As I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs, in mid-2013, three of our mystery writers received impressive awards: Jaden Terrell’s Racing the Devil was a finalist for the  Shamus Prize, Howard Owen’s Oregon Hill won the Hammett Prize, and Chris Knopf’ s Dead Anyway won the Nero Award. But last year was even more rewarding than that since, as the clock ticked down on 2013, there were several more honors in store for our authors. In addition to the Dactyl Prize for The Double Life of Alfred Buber, Amy Steele, in her blog Entertainment Realm, listed her Top 20 Books for 2013, and three of our novelists were on it: Emma McEvoy’s The Inbetween People; Daniel Klein’s Nothing Serious, and Gwen Florio’s Montana. Hallie Ephron listed Leonard Rosen's The Tenth Witness as one of the Top 8 Mysteries of 2013 in The Boston Globe. This was followed up by Montana being listed among the Great Falls Tribune as among the Top Ten Montana Books (only three of which were novels), and, Library Journal choosing Chris Knopf’s Cries of the Lost as being one of their Five Best Mysteries of 2013.


Marty




Wednesday, December 11, 2013

AN OFFER YOU CAN'T REFUSE (I hope)

Back in 1978, when Judy and I started publishing, we had two imprints: The Permanent Press (for original titles) and Second Chance Press (for books we reprinted after they had been out of print for over 20 years). Our biggest successes way back then were for Second Chance Press releases, for these were written by some very artful writers, starting with Richard Lortz, Mitchell Goodman, Haywood  Hale Broun, Dola DeJong, Charles O’Neal, and Julian Schuman, who came to us after Thomas Lask, in his “End Papers” column in the New York Times Book Review, repeated a letter we sent out to the Authors Guild, asking Guild members to consider sending us titles written two or more decades ago, which guaranteed that most readers were unaware of these still timely and exceptional books… which we still have in print.  

The other day it occurred to me, “Why not do that with a recent novel that many thought was as good as it gets, yet failed to get any significant readership?” The book that immediately came to mind was David Schmahmann’s The Double Life of Alfred Buber, which we published in 2011, alongside Leonard Rosen’s All Cry Chaos. To me, Buber was “The best novel Vladimir Nabokov NEVER wrote.” Many other critics had similar reactions, as just a few of the following excerpts attest:

 "Buber reads like a lost Nabokov novel; the prose is meticulously wrought, the plot deeply complex and psychologically layered. Where some novels radiate outward, this one spirals in on itself, turn by fascinating turn, exploring the inner life of a man distanced from both himself and reality by his own lies and a soul full of secret, shameful desires."  —Small Press Reviews


"An unusual morality play whose artful style veils the depravity of its protagonist."  —Kirkus
“Schmahmann has created a character with the vividness of J. Alfred Prufrock or Humbert Humbert. Buber’s obsessions and the carefully-guarded secret life make a compelling novel.”    —Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha

“Captures the desperation and love between unequals.”  —Publishers Weekly

Yet the publishing business is always full of surprises. Len Rosen’s All Cry Chaos went on to have over ten thousand book and Kindle sales in America and 12 foreign subright sales, while The Double Life of Alfred Buber has sold only 448  hard cover copies to date, and has had no translations at all, though Judy and I thought Buber had equal literary value. So here comes the offering:

If we’re not selling this book, why not give it away and allow you to pass it on to others you know. It would surely make a great holiday gift to any thoughtful reader. All you need do is send an Email asking for Buber, and we’ll send you a Pdf file that you can put on your Kindle or any other electronic device.

David deserves more readers and his novel more admirers.

Marty

Monday, November 25, 2013

REFLECTIONS ON TURNING 79


I’ve led a blessed life despite my shortcomings. I had a father (whose illustrations grace our catalogs) who was the wisest, soft spoken, loving, funny and supportive parent a son could ever have. I found a wonderful life-partner in Judy, who brought her three kids to join my three 42 years ago after bad first marriages, enriching the family circle. We started living year-round in the Hampton 35 years ago, one of the most beautiful places in the world, still surrounded by farms and water, fresh air and wildlife. And so many things stemmed from all of this: not the least of which was starting a publishing company with Judy which, by fate or accident, managed to survive and grow. And grow and grow, while becoming friends with some amazing writers.

Very disappointing events that happened—as they must in everyone’s life—have wound up being transformed into better opportunities than we ever could have imagined. It may be a cliché to say this, but it’s been true for us that “Every door that closed allowed a new one to open.” Judy is six months younger than me, and we are both in good health, but it’s hard not to be aware that life does not go on forever and that the egg timer will eventually run out of sand. Using a football analogy, we are surely playing in the fourth quarter and hoping there will be a long overtime.

This has led me to think of what plans we can make for The Permanent Press to insure its continuation. Our German agent and good friend, Tom Schluck, has thought about this as well over the past several years, bringing in family members and others to continue his agency, and they have the taste and savvy to do just that, running things without a dropped beat while Tom comes in to have his say on a more limited basis. That, unfortunately, wouldn’t work here as none of our kids, bright as they are, have the experience to run a publishing business.

I suppose we could consider hiring a clever promoter or PR person in the book industry and try to pass on our nearly 450 in-print titles to one of the Big Five corporate Publishers. But I would never want to go down that path, since our success is directly related to the failure of the Big Five and their hundred odd imprints to encourage and find deserving writers and keep them in print. In short, they would destroy what Judy and I already have in stock as well as another 26 titles already signed up for 2014 and 2015.

There is, frankly, no greater joy I have than finding and promoting good books. Nor any need to sell our company to a firm or person ill-suited to run it. Working often past 10 at night, in my office, inside my house, is not unusual. And I like it, so it is not “WORK.”

I’ve always been a communitarian—once called a Hippie and I suppose there’s some truth in that—for I always placed joy over money and always pursued work that interested me rather than enriched me. The magic is that this has been another accidental blessing—working at something that gives us joy and has also been able to run at a profit.

Considering all these factors we've decided to give the company away,  slowly passing the baton on as a gift to a gifted person who is also well read, loves books, and has the proper business smarts to keep it going, just as Tom Schluck did with his agency in Germany. 

More about this in my next blog…


In the meantime, click on The Permanent Press's latest Newsletter. 


Marty

Sunday, October 6, 2013

AWASH IN AWARDS

I write this as we will be departing for the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 7th, to share our wares with editors and agents from around the world. And to give you a taste of what a banner year this has been for so many of our writers.

In the last three years, Permanent Press titles have either won or been shortlisted for six of the major mystery prizes. Leonard Rosen’s All Cry Chaos (2011) was a finalist for the Edgar and Anthony Awards and won the 2012 Macavity Award for Best First Novel. This year Chris Knopf’s Dead Anyway won the Nero Award, Howard Owen’s Oregon Hill won the Hammett Prize, and Jaden Terrell’s Racing the Devil was a finalist for the Shamus Award.

Needless to say, Judy and I were dancing on the ceiling when informed about the most recent Hammett announcement which completed this Trifecta, and sent an email out to many people—reviewers, agents, scouts, editors here in the States and abroad, and to 100 other authors we’ve published. The entire letter was picked up by Ivan Goldman, another of our novelists who has his own blog and headed it boldly while, in his introduction, wrote an unforgettable, accurate, and funny line describing how our books are overlooked by the Five Families of the Literature Mafia that dictate which books are or are not "important."

YET ANOTHER AUTHOR PUBLISHED BY (LITTLE) PERMANENT PRESS WINS PRESTIGIOUS AWARD, THIS TIME THE HAMMETT PRIZE
Blog Post by Ivan G. Goldman - Oct.01.2013 - 8:38 pm
Ivan G. Goldman’s Blog on Red Room and elsewhere

Below is an email I just received from Martin Shepard of the Permanent Press, a small publisher whose books win award after award. Yet its catalog is almost completely overlooked by the Five Families of the Literature Mafia that dictate which books are or are not "important."

If you want to read that email in its entirely, check out Ivan’s blog. But the fact of the matter is that our mystery writers are kicking-ass, award-wise, despite the scant attention paid by the largest newspapers and so called-literary magazines. Judged by a jury of mystery-writing peers, this surely carries more weight and credibility than having a book review editor deciding what book to assign to his reviewers.

I say this without rancor, for it is just the way the system works. In fact, I think it has been a blessing, since so many of our best writers had been rejected for a year or longer by the biggies, then found a home with us. So we raise our glasses to toast the selection practices of the conglomerates that have left some of the most outstanding mystery writers in America—including Connie Dial, David Freed, Gwen Florio, and Baron Birtcher—to us.

And as good a year has been (with a host of sub-rights sales here and abroad), next year could well be better, with an incredible mix of mysteries, literary fiction, many returning writers, and some hybrids of sorts. To that end we’ve now put our 2014 catalog online. To see it all you need do is go our website and download it. Goodies galore for discerning readers. 

Marty

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

HOW SMALL PUBLISHERS CAN STILL SELL GOOD BOOKS


What follows is what we’ve learned over the past 35 years when it comes to promoting and selling books. This may or may not be helpful, many of the things I’d suggest seem self-evident, but I think they are worth thinking about. I should also add that the vast majority of the books we publish are fiction, and we try to select artfully written titles, be they mysteries or general fiction: books that are character driven and outside the realm of what the conglomerates generally select. The Big Five Conglomerates who, with 250 or more imprints, produce 85% of the books sold in America. By and large they tend to go for the lowest common denominator—for the widest audience—while our target audience is for the more thoughtful and sophisticated reader. The Big Guys publish name-brand writers. We don’t. We simply pick from among the 5,000 queries and submission we receive each year and publish the best 12 to 16 manuscripts we read.  So I offer this information to one and all—but particularly to small presses not associated with the Big Five—and if it is helpful to any of you, that is reward enough.

Selling books depends on reaching potential readers, and that starts with review coverage. Since my wife and I began The Permanent Press in 1978, there have been many changes in the way one finds an audience. Once upon a time there were newspapers who covered books and had book editors who respected and helped get-the-word-out for quality writing that came from small independent presses written by relatively unknown writers. That marketing strategy hardly works anymore, as so many newspapers have down-sized, closed, or use wire-service reviews. In these hard times the biggest newspapers still standing tend to cover books from large publishers who take out ads that a smaller house can ill afford.  So one has to look for alternatives: people and reviewers who aren’t swayed by where a book comes from, or who wrote it, or who advertises, but by the quality of the work itself. 

Tops for open hearted and open minded print coverage are the four pre-publication journals, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, and Library Journal. Make sure you print and send out advance galleys to them—and anyone else on your review lists—at least four months before publication date, and try to hold your output to one or two titles a month at best. Given the huge numbers of books Random House or the other giants publish, only a small percent will gain any serious review coverage. By limiting submissions, if the editors at these journals feel your titles have merit and you don’t overwhelm them, your review percentage will be higher. The point here is: don’t publish more books than that annually, just keep upgrading those titles you do select. And pick your target audience. Libraries are still the repository of good writing, another reason to value these four pre-publication journals.

For all the talk of publishing “electronic” books only, this is a mistake in our opinion. Few electronic-only publishers will get reviews, and those that do publish works by famous writers of yesteryears whose works are no longer in copyright. This will hardly do if you are searching for original voices by contemporary writers.

Resources should be spent to make the galleys you publish attractive. Don’t use the generic colored paper cover with the title printed on the top, but use the art that you will use on your finished books, including flap copy. An artful cover has much greater appeal than a dull one, since reviewers have so many titles to choose from. Should you get coverage in one or more of these journals, save excerpts and put them on the back cover or dustjacket of your finished copy. Here is also where it makes sense to advertise, depending on your budget. You can take as little as a sixth of a page out in any of these publications, and print out the excerpts from the other early reviews for their readers. You’ll also be helping to support the most influential and non-corruptible people in the business.

Another strategy is considering producing 200 to 300 extra galleys that Library Journal and Booklist will send out four or five times a year to key librarians, a perfect target audience for interesting titles: more non-corruptible people. And send these out at the same time as you send your advance galleys out elsewhere else.

You should also collect the best bloggers you can find for on-line reviewing. One way to get started with this is to join Library Thing or Good Reads and offer 20 or 30 galleys to the first 20 or 30 people who request copies, and see how many reviews of your books are posted there, and then contact those reviewers who write well and also have their own blogsites for future submissions. We’ve collected and value about two dozen such reviewers. It’s easy to see how they write for an audience of serious readers. Getting coverage in these places, if each one only results in 20 sales, is more important than  spending to much time soliciting newspapers, for these bloggers are the sort of people who are respected and help spread the word. I won’t share our lists with you because you’ve got to do the work and find your own compatible bloggers. But I can tell you that if your books are well written, some blog sites that are particularly influential are Small Press Reviews, New York Journal of Books, and San Francisco Book Reviews (not only that, but we were so impressed by the writing of some of these reviewers that we’ve signed on novels written by two authors from the New York Journal of Books, and one author from Small Press Reviews).  And when you place ads in any of the pre-pub journals, feel free to use excerpts from these sources as well.

The final uncorruptibles for spreading-the-word are book awards, as their judges have no vested interest in picking anything but good books from whatever quarter, and being selected as a finalist or winner can pay very big dividends. In 2012 we published seven mystery writers, and three of them are among the five finalists for three important mystery awards this year: Howard Owen’s Oregon Hill for the Hammett Prize, Jaden Terrell’s Racing the Devil for the Shamus Award, and Chris Knopf’s Dead Anyway for the Nero Award. This will attract readers and sales far more than reviews in the most widely read newspapers. Advertising these titles in the pre-pub journals and in the best mystery magazine, Mystery Scene, is relatively inexpensive and most worthwhile. At the very least, even without becoming a finalist, you will have introduced your books to good writers and critics who will be more aware of what you do.

Advertising expenses incurred for doing the sort of ads we do 18 or 20 times a year are far more effective than spending the same amount for one full book ad in the New York Times, The Washington Post, or The Los Angeles Times combined, and will help out those publications who support you.

Just one anecdote worth mentioning here: Back in 1991 we published Sandra Scofield’s Beyond Deserving—a time when newspapers were more accepting of covering good fiction from small presses. The novel had a fine review in the Sunday New York Times Book Review, but no review at all appeared in their daily paper, which is subsumed by their Culture Desk. Then, big surprise, it became a finalist for The National Book Award. We informed the book editor of the Culture Desk about this a couple of months before the winner was to be chosen, without any response. After the winner was announced at a gala setting, the Culture Desk justified non-coverage because Beyond Deserving didn’t win the award. Just being judged as one of the five best novels was not enough. (In fact, we’ve never had a full review in the daily Times except one in our first year—35 years ago). Still, we send one review copy to their desk without any expectations and at minimum expense (via Media Mail, not UPS) in case God wants to make a miracle happen. Sorry to say, in today’s world that’s the case with most newspaper and magazine coverage. But here again, being a finalist for this award sold more copies of the book than all the newspaper reviews combined.

Another resource we’ve been making use of is sharing new books with our old authors—well over 100 of them—by sending them electronic files to read and pass on to their friends. It’s had an excellent effect, not only furthering a communal effort, but has resulted in a fuller awareness of one another’s talents which have increased sales.

My final suggestion is this: pay reasonable entrance fees for all sorts of awards. Many, like the PEN Awards and The National Book Critics Circle Awards, and the Chautauqua Prize, require no entrance fee at all. ForeWord Magazine, which covers small presses and posts well written reviews, also has their own awards at the end of every year. There is a steep price to pay for entering, and you might need to limit what you submit, for entrance fees for their prizes are steep. Yet coming in first, second or third in any of the dozen or more “categories” they cover is another worthwhile investment. We’ve had a couple of finalists for the categories prizes, a runner-up for their Grand Prize, and a winner for their Grand Prize last year—Leonard Rosen’s All Cry Chaos—which made all those investments worth it.

I look forward to hearing your feedback or your own experiences in selling good books. I also hope you will click on The Permanent Press’ August Newsletter to see what’s been happening with our titles since our last posting.


Marty
 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

E-BOOK PRICING: THE SOUND AND THE FURY? OR MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING?


It’s been three months since my last posting, and lately I’ve been going nuts reading about the governments prosecution—or is it persecution—of publishers and a distributor of e-books, and felt impelled to get some things off my chest, clarify my mind, and rid myself of this fruitless and confusing issue.

The longer the government’s lawsuit against Apple and the five of the Big Six corporate publishers (who, through their various imprints account for 85% of book sales) continues, the more absurd it becomes. “Collusion,” the U.S. attorneys say. “We must protect the public from those conspiring to control prices of e-books.”

To my mind, I would say that “Authors need more protection than the public.” In the end, any book is an author’s creation and the writer deserves the fairest shake they can get. No two books are alike, all are individual creations, and the idea that e-book prices would uniformly rise if “Apple and the publishing conglomerates got their way” is hard to accept.

I don’t know how the Big Six divvy up e-book sales, but I know what we do: treating electronic sales the same way we do all subright sales and dividing the income on a 50:50 basis. I also believe that publishers have the right to set a price on the e-books they publish—just as they have a right to set prices on books they publish. If Apple allows the publisher to set their own prices, that’s a good thing. If wholesalers wish to give greater discounts, that’s up to them. But if Apple only takes 30% of the e-book selling price—then a $10 sale nets the publisher $7, and the author—with our system—earns $3.50 per sale. On the other hand, if Amazon takes 50%, and overrules the publisher’s asking price by deciding to sell the same book for $8, the publisher nets $4 and the author $2.00. Big difference, wouldn’t you say?


The very idea that the public needs protection in these instances seems even more absurd, for a book is not a necessity like food or fuel or electricity. Books and e-books are, in the end, entertainment: entertainment the public can purchase or take from any public library at no cost whatsoever. Would the government go after movie theater chains—like the United Artist Theaters who set ever higher prices for watching their films? They shouldn’t. But if we start with books, who knows what other forms of entertainment might come next.

Frankly, we adore Kindle sales, though Amazon often lowers prices to less than what we request. But they pay on time (unlike many bookstores and wholesalers) and account for over 80% of our e-book sales. If anything, it would benefit authors if publishers could list what return they would like on a price they set for any individual book. Amazon would have a choice of lowering their discount or not, in order to compete with Apple or others, though right now there is no competition, with Kindle sales blowing away all competitors.

To me, this lawsuit is an glaring example of government excess, providing big headlines concerning “Conspiracy” and “Protecting the Public,” while wasting taxpayer’s money and going after the wrong people, for all the wrong reasons. Shakespeare and Faulkner have said it best: It’s “Much Ado about Nothing” and “The Sound and the Fury”— quite dramatic but empty of substance other than brandishing prosecutors reputations and defense lawyers incomes.

Let me know your thoughts about these issues. And I’d welcome learning about how electronic rights are divided by the Conglomerates.

And do check out the latest newsletter on The Permanent Press website (www.thepermanentpress.com)

Marty

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A MYSTERY


This August, Judy and I were invited to attend and participate at the Killer Nashville Convention (August 22 to 25), which brings together Southeastern mystery aficionados. It’s one of the three largest regional mystery conventions, the other two being Left Coast Crime (covering west of the Rockies and the West Coast) and the New England Crime Bake. The super daddy, of course, is the Bouchercon Conference, bringing together mystery people from around the country at differing locations each year.

I was first invited to Killer Nashville back in 2011, but this year it will be an even more special event for us as we’ll get to finally meet and spend time with Connie Dial (DEAD WRONG), David Freed (FANGS OUT), Gwen Florio (MONTANA), and Baron Birtcher (RAIN DOGS). Chris Knopf, (a good friend since we first started publishing him eight years ago, and whose consistency and inventiveness have elevated him to the top tier of mystery writers) will also be attending with CRIES OF THE LOST. All are masterful story-tellers and each of their latest mysteries are represented on our 2013 list.

Our pleasure is somewhat akin to on-line dating: one corresponds with a host of people, winnows some out and then begins to know those writers we take on through emails to start, then phone conversations, eventually leading to kinship and falling in love. Finally, we go out on a date together. How grand is that? As good as the last episode of The Bachelor!

Two other authors we’re publishing this year are Len Rosen (THE TENTH WITNESS) and Howard Owen (THE PHILADELPHIA QUARRY). Each had other commitments, but both will be attending Bouchercon along with several of the folks joining us at Killer Nashville.

We’ve never discriminated against mysteries. Judy and I are just looking to find excellent novelists, regardless of category. From a handful of mysteries every year, 2012 changed the balance: eight of our 16 releases were mysteries, and in 2013, eight of our 14 releases are mysteries. These were simply among the best of the 5,000 queries and submissions we received in those years. I can only speculate how this came about, attributing it to the collective impact our mystery writers have had. As each of them have gathered readers, reviews, and honors, new mystery writers, and their agents, submit more quality fiction to us.

Among the seven Chris Knopf mysteries we’ve published two were finalists for the Connecticut Book Award, and his 2012 release, DEAD ANYWAY, was cited by Publishers Weekly as one of the 12 Best Mystery/Thrillers of 2012 . It was also listed as one of the Top 100 Novels by Kirkus (along with Connie Dial’s FALLEN ANGELS). David Freed, working as a journalist for the Los Angeles Times, was an Individual Pulitzer Finalist and shared a Pulitzer Prize with the Times itself for coverage of the Rodney King riots. He also received excellent reviews for FLAT SPIN in 2012 and FANGS OUT this year. Howard Owen’s OREGON HILL, published last year, is a finalist for the Hammett Award this year, as well as a finalist for the Library of Virginia’s 16th Annual Award for Virginia writers. Like David Freed, Howard is also a journalist.

Then there is Gwen Florio and MONTANA. Gwen is another journalist who has been nominated for three Pulitzer Prizes, from the Missoulian this year (investigating an alleged rape of two young women by the University of Montana’s football team), and from the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1997, and the Denver Post in 2001 for feature stories from locations as various as the American West, the Navajo Nation and Afghanistan. In 2012 Len Rosen won the Macavity Award for ALL CRY CHAOS, was a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best First Novel and also for the Anthony Award, and was a Chautauqua Prize finalist as well.

Journalists who work hard at their craft seem to make extraordinary mystery writers, as they get a first-hand look at life in all its down and dirty places. Connie Dial, was never a journalist, but having been the Commander of the Hollywood Division of the LAPD she shared that same first-hand familiarity. Mix in Pulitzer prizes and awards by ones peers and it’s easy to see why we take great pride in our writers and believe we have as good a cadre of mystery writers as any publisher, large or small, in America. Most mysteries are like most movies—they are published and filmed for the widest audience, which means lots of action, car chases, thrills, skin-deep characters, and over the top violence. Are there other good mystery writers who are published elsewhere? Of course there are. There are also many overly praised ones from “name brand” authors well covered in the national media. But when you have a core group like Len Rosen, David Freed, Connie Dial, Howard Owen, and Jaden Terrell, who wrote two outstanding mysteries last year (RACING THE DEVIL and A CUP FULL OF MIDNIGHT)—along with newcomers—it’s my contention that 100% of our mystery writers are exceptional.

So how we got to where we are is, perhaps, not such a mystery after all: it’s a result of fine writers coming to us and carrying the weight of  our overall success as publishers.

Judy and I are indebted to one and all.

I invite your comments and also hope you will check out the latest Newsletter on The Permanent Press website.

Marty