Carole is the publisher of Barricade Books. Thirteen years, she and her late husband, Lyle, shared the mission of publishing consequential books, while passionate in their fight for free speech. Mrs. Stuart continues to carry on the undertaking that she and her husband devoted themselves to.
Carole Stuart is a woman who carefully chooses not only what she says, but when and if she'll tell what's on her mind. So, enjoy this exceptional opportunity to hear from her.
How does being an author affect your work as a publisher?
I can empathize with authors since I write too. I am very much in touch with my authors who feel we are a team.
What are the advantages of going with an independent press?
Because we are small, we publish only a few books a month. We did more but decided we couldn't give the attention each title needs. Authors feel connected to us in a different way than they do with big publishers, where they are one out of hundreds.
Your late husband, Lyle Stuart, was referred to as "a renegade journalist and publisher whose picaresque life included clashes with Walter Winchell..." and "American independent publisher of controversial books." How did working with this extraordinary man influence your role as a publisher?
I still look for controversial books. And we get them. We're publishing HONOR BETRAYED: SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE AMERICAN MILITARY which fits our controversial profile perfectly. I'm always looking for books like that. But we also publish other categories that we have become identified with: mafia, offbeat (BREEDING BETWEEN THE LINES, WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE but we also look for the more traditional "big book" like HIGH RISE LOW DOWN: who's who and what's what behind the coop and condo boards in Manhattan's top apartment houses.
You need a mix to make it all work.
If an author has a less than conventional work to submit, would Barricade Books be a good place to start? Why?
We are probably a very good place for unconventional books but they have to have a good foundation. The author must bring credentials to write on the subject.
What would be the best way for an author to submit an atypical work to you?
All submissions should be mailed (I really don't like to read email proposals and never full manuscripts) with a stamped self-addressed envelope, if he/she wants the material back. Proposals for all books should be brief - no one wants to go through a full manuscript on submission. If it's unconventional that should be explained in the cover letter.
How does Barricade Books go about introducing their releases to the readers?
We are publicity driven. We are too small to advertise so we work with authors to promote books. We send out review copies to traditional media but each book is fine-tuned. If we're doing a THE SILENT DON by Scott Deitche whose CIGAR CITY MAFIA did very well in Florida - that's where we concentrate our launch.
Some books may sell 90% regionally but do very little elsewhere.
Not every book is a national book but if it sells well, we are happy to sell it where the natural market is.
Do you have any out-of-the-box suggestions for book promotion?
One of our authors, YOUR PLUS SIZE PREGNANCY aimed most promotion on lie. We discovered that some larger women are shy about going into a bookshop to buy a book about being bigger.
Did pretty well. We tried, with not much success, to have plus size fashion shops carry the book. Still think it was a good idea, but it's hard to convince some retailers to think out of the box.
What is your pet peeve when receiving a query/submission?
Don't email a ms - don't send me a Disk. Don't send a ms that is single spaced or printed on the front and back of a page.
Your submission is your entry into my office. It your package looks like you took time to put it together I'll notice that.
Always put a return envelope in. An address, email, phone number for contact.
What is the most common mistake you see in author submissions?
You'd be surprised how many submissions I get that have no return information.
We know that you publish only non-fiction manuscripts, but what types of non-fiction books are you looking for?
We look for something that is unique but has an audience. Ask yourself "Who is going to buy this book?" That's the first thing I ask. If you are the only person who could write the book you are submitting, that's good too.
How much promotion do you expect an author to do for herself?
A lot. This is the reality. Most authors are pretty smart these days and many hire their own publicity people. We then work together.
It often works very well. As small as we are, we still have more books to handle than the one you are writing. The more an author does the better. But always in coordination with us.
I read that your husband, Lyle, was a kind and generous man, and once flew his publishing staff, from executives to shipping clerks, out to Europe for parties and the Frankfurt book fair. He even led a conga line of employees around Trafalgar Square in London! Can you tell us what that was like, and what book sale you were celebrating?
The book was THE RICH AND THE SUPER RICH and it hit best seller list. Stayed on for a long time and was a best seller in many European countries too. It was fun!
What was the first book you absolutely fell in love with?
I've loved a lot of them. Can't remember the first but some recent ones have been STUFFED by Patricia Volk, THE KITE RUNNER, READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN, anything Ann Tyler writes, also Alice Hoffman. Of our list I loved WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE, PROMISES TO KEEP, just to name a few.
How does writing feed your soul versus publishing?
I write books that are very personally connected to me so I impart information I am familiar with. Publishing is exciting because I get to offer up books with new ideas and those that challenging existing ones. Very different experiences, but equally fulfilling.
What words of encouragement and guidance do you have for the aspiring author?
Don't be discouraged if you are turned down by a lot of publishers or agents. Keep writing, keep trying. If you are good, you'll find someone who believes in you. Continue to work on your writing.
And keep your day job.
Barricade Books offers internship opportunities. Could you tell us how this has worked out for the interns and Barricade?
We've hired a number of our interns and I think it's been a good experience for us and them.
Over the years, Barricade Books has been one of the most, if not the most, forward-thinking independent publishers out there. Has this helped you stay afloat, or has it been a challenge?
Both. We've been sued a couple of times and although we've prevailed, it's been very costly. But we still are up for the unusual. More than some large houses who often run from controversy.
What did you and your husband want to accomplish when you started Barricade Books? Have you achieved your goal or has it taken on a life of its own, leading you into uncharted waters?
We continued to publish books that we became identified with; those that other publishers shy away from. It often leads to uncharted waters - and many surprises.
What words of wisdom do you have to share with our readers than may have an unconventional dream?
Writers - especially of fiction - are dreamers, aren't they? Keep at it. Non-fiction writers who have something new to say or add to a topic already known should also keep at it.
What was the pivotal moment that told you that Barricade Books had arrived?
When we started to get agents submitting to us because of our reputation. And authors who had been published by major houses that were tired of not getting much attention. They like the personal touch.
Carole's closing comments for WOW! readers:
Even though there are too many books being published, keep writing. We need good ones.
WOW's closing comments: Carole, what a perfect match you and Barricade Books are for Small Presses Create Buzz. Thank you for helping us appreciate just a few of the benefits for the author that signs with a small press. Meanwhile, we will continue to look for more good things to come from Barricade Books.
Carole Stuart contact information:
185 Bridge Plaza North, Suite 308A ,
Ft. Lee, NJ 07024