I trudged miles of aisles at a trade show in Baltimore the other day, amazed at how many tree-growers there ARE, but the most interesting discovery among the thousands of vendors was a small publisher who I’m convinced wants to do some good while making money. Though if he’d actually said that I’d think he’s a phony. And I may be going out on a limb but I’m willing to risk it – Paul Kelly is no phony.
THE ROAD TO ST. LYNN’S PRESS
Through a series of conversations I discovered in Paul an interesting mix of back-to-earth gardener, business acumen and lots of what Margaret Roach calls “woo-woo”.
I asked Paul what kinds of book ideas he’s looking for from garden writers and he said “Anything that’s different,” including “quick and easy” books for people who want to garden but can’t devote a lot of time to it, and “cross-over” books that combine gardening with something else. He says he sees lots of book proposals that would make great magazine articles, not so much full-fledged bookS. “It’s challenging for a small publisher like us to make a go of it if a book doesn’t sell 5,000 copies.”
At home in Pittsburgh, Paul seems to grow everything – vegetables, fruit, and “lotsa flowers and flowering shrubs, too”. Then on the weekends he takes care of a few acres he bought in the hills of West Virginia back in the mid-’70s, on which he built a rustic cabin from trees on the property. He told me “It has no electric or indoor plumbing. There’s a part of me (my muscles don’t agree) that still thinks I’m a young hippy in their 20’s!”
You and me both, Paul, and someday let’s swap stories about that awesome era. In the meantime, I’m hoping to see St. Lynn’s Press play an important role in the garden-writing world. It’s needed.