October 10, 2013

How to celebrate your author’s Nobel win



We’re extremely proud of our entire list of titles here at Melville House, a list that includes the best books by two winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Heinrich Böll and Imre Kertész. As wonderful and sobering as it is to be responsible for the work of these men—some of the greatest authors of this century and the last—we’ve yet to experience the thrill of being the American publisher for an author while that author wins the Nobel. Until, that is, Iranian master of letters Mahmoud Dowlatabadi won that distinction earlier today.

[Ed. note: This post was drafted on Wednesday in anticipation of the possibility of Dowlatabadi winning the Nobel. That did not happen, but we need some kind of Nobel coverage so I guess this is it.]

I repeat: Mahmoud Dowlatabadi won the Nobel Prize in Literature [Ed.: No, he really didn’t.]

It is entirely deserved, and we are honored—indeed ecstatic—to be able to bring the work of this important, courageous author to the wider audience this prize affords. [Ed.: *sigh*]

We’ll leave it to Dowlatabadi himself to tell you what the prize means for him, but for us it has resulted in riotous revelry [Ed.: If by ‘revelry’ you mean listening to a Fleetwood Mac Youtube compilation through one earbud while quietly typing at my desk; woo-hoo] vying for our attention with a massive, urgent load of work [Ed.: This actually remains true. It is a hell of a lot of work, trying to get people to read a Nobel-less Iranian author. *another sigh*].

For a marketing manager at an indie press like myself, both the revelry and work begin as soon as you open your eyes to the news. The day begins with a flurry of urgent emails, calls and texts [Ed.: Or, reading the news on your phone over day-old coffee and a bowl coated with the dust from the bottom of a bag of Honey-Nut Cheerios, both mixed with slightly-expired milk].

Much of the coming days will be filled with discussions of ramped up print schedules [Ed.: Trying to fix the office printer], celebratory whoops [Ed.: Whoops, I got some powdered sugar from this sad donut on my pants], and hasty emails to the press [Ed.: Subject line–Why Dowlatabadi would have won the Nobel Prize if there was any justice in heaven or Sweden].

We, like many publishers, have had to find a balance between our own excitement and the the understanding that all credit lies with this incredible author. [Ed.: Though not as incredible as Dowlatabadi, who should have won but, again, absolutely did not, goddamn it, are you sure we should run this post?]

The burden and acclaim can be particularly heavy for small independent presses like ours. In many cases this win is [Ed: would have been *extremely long and loud sigh*] the reason a reader will discover us, and provides us with a singular chance to show these readers who we are and what we do. [Ed.: That being, apparently, publishing incendiary books by old men that nobody in Sweden cares about. We’re very niche. Too niche for you Sweden. You hear me? TOO NICHE FOR YOU!] 

At the end of the day, however hectic and celebratory, I suppose the best any publisher can do is to stay true to their mission and keep doing what they’ve always tried to do: to help great books find their readership. [Ed.: Also to eat. We’ll keep trying to eat. Though that is not as easy as it could have been. THANKS TO SWEDEN.]

But man, it sure feels good when that readership finds you. [Ed.: Alright. That’s it. That’s enough. Somebody shut this smug chump up. Sure, fine, winning would have been nice, but the person who did win is probably a great author and deserving; there’s always next year and I don’t like champagne all that much anyhow. Or Sweden. Dowlatabadi has his mustache and I have this pre-made cheese sandwich for lunch and that’s all we really need. *the sigh to end all sighs*]


Dustin Kurtz is the marketing manager of Melville House, and a former bookseller.