We’re writers who know how we’d want to be treated by a publisher, so that’s how we behave as publishers.
Muse Harbor Publishing was named one afternoon over bloody marys and breakfast, and from that name flows the imagery that expresses the entire concept. Muses! Ancient harbingers of creativity, watching over a harbor, the traveling waterway and shelter for voyagers on their journeys. Having been through adventures together, we felt the need for such a place, and so we decided to build one. There are three of us: Dave Workman, Eileen Workman, and Ian Wood, in no particular order. We’ve also got a small squad of Harborites who are fluttering around and amongst us, and you’ll meet them presently. We like them a lot, and you probably will too.
We called it a publishing company, but it’s already proving to be a bit more than that. From the beginning, it challenged us to behave as we claimed to believe: we wanted to conjure a place of creative nurturance. Should we keep that place to ourselves as a private shoreline, or share it? We decided to share it. And what was the purpose of that refuge? Were we attempting to become fabulously wealthy and inescapably famous as the result of our labors? Oh, god yes. Seriously, you have no idea. We’ve already chosen automotive paint jobs and landscape designers. It’s appalling. But even if we don’t quite manage to afford the private islands, we’re still striving to create something that might provide for us what Gautama Buddha is said to have called right livelihood. As with most such things, the interpretations of that phrase vary widely, but at its heart you can find the common notion of not engaging in any trade or business that results in direct or indirect harm to others.
Once we realized we’d have to give up the business of selling phosphorous grenades along with our books, we spent some time figuring out what it might mean to do no harm in this business of publishing:
- Don’t exploit the writer. Our royalty rates are probably foolishly high. But we’re charging ahead anyway, because that’s how we want to do things: foolishly, and with great conviction. We’d like to make a living from our writing. We’d like our writers to do so as well. See, also: “No Sharks In The Harbor.”
- Don’t insult the reader. We won’t publish a book because we know that its author comes with a 20,000-member mailing list. We’ll publish a book because we like it, and because we hope our readers will like it, or because we think its message is important, and we want our readers to know about it. Or both! If an author brings along 20,000 fans, that’s fantastic. Welcome aboard! Buy some books. Tell others.
- Give a damn. The simple truth is, we care about our writers and their writing. This doesn’t mean that our taste is exquisite, or that our books are perfect exemplars of literature or of philosophical precision, or that we’re riding the crest of a marketing phenomenon. But it does mean that we’re not going to bail out on a trilogy because the first volume didn’t move a spectacular number of copies. It means that a book will stay in print, because we don’t justify a book’s existence merely by its sales. That said, we will look at books about werewolf boy-wizards who fall in love with vampire zombies, if they’re well-written. We’re not stupid. Just idealistic.
We’ve seized new possibilities presented by the evolving technological landscape of book publishing. We don’t want factory-farmed fiction. We don’t want provocative nonfiction that lacks substance. We want to gather words that we care about, and then scatter them as far and as wide as we possibly can.
Muse Harbor is a nice place to visit, to spend awhile, or even to settle down and love. There’s a gift shop, with really good fudge, and salt water taffy, and a rack of paperbacks. There are fine boats docked at the slips, and, if you want, you can start at the Harbor and head out onto the broad ocean, never to return. Journey as a writer, or as a reader. It’s all right. We’ve got a lighthouse! You can always find your way back.
Thanks for visiting, and reading.
Muse Harbor Publishing