Bloomsbury in New York

March 16, 2017

This is our origin story: We started Mediacs, our independent publishing company, in the early 90’s. We were journalists, fiction writers, screen writers, editors and artists immersed in our creative work that sometimes sold, but often did not. We had young children and had to make a living. We sat down at our dining room table with a former graffiti artist turned graphic designer, thought up a name for our new full-service publishing company, registered the name and got to work.

At first we wrote, designed, and edited newsletters, brochures and annual reports, print and electronic. But what about books? What about my less commercial books? My favorite fiction form is the novella, a hard sell in the United States. And the time it took for an agent to assess and submit, and a publisher to publish, was becoming longer and longer. Worse, the mega-advances for blockbuster books was changing the industry. Suddenly, most writers, including yours truly, were “B” writers desperate to get their books into print in the margins of an overcrowded highly commercialized marketplace.

I thought of Virginia and Leonard Woolf . They had bought a printing press in 1917 as a diversion for Virginia. She suffered from mental illness and was very anxious as she was writing. But the printing press—which the Woolfs taught themselves how to use—distracted Virginia in a positive way and enabled her to bring her work to concrete fruition. Once the press arrived, she participated in the editing and type-setting of many books by other authors in the Bloomsbury circle—John Maynard Keynes, Lytton Strachey, TS Eliot, and EM Forster among them. Between 1917 and 1946 the Hogarth Press published 527 titles.

Be I ever so humble, I am not comparing myself to an author from the Bloomsbury Group, but the genesis of Mediacs is an echo of the the Woolf’s family-run Hogarth Press. Much of their list are now classics and we cannot make such a claim. We publish workaday writers with good stories to tell who are willing to invest in their books. Whether they become classics beyond our lifetime is not for us to predict. But as our list accumulates, we feel pride in our authors—their efforts in making a work, and their trust in us as mentors, editors and publishers.

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