Unusually Clever People

High Hopes for St. Lynn’s Press

STLlYNN
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”.

He started his first garden in 1974 in the hills of West Virginia where he was teaching, and credits the kids with teaching him to grow a garden.  Then he went west and lived in an intentional community in Northern California for 17 years, and gardened there, too.  But it wasn’t all yoga, meditation and gardening – he also ran a PR firm specializing in book author tours, and did marketing for publishers -  from Harper Collins to small spiritual publishers.
ST. LYNN’S AND WHAT THEY’RE LOOKING FOR
Back east now and living in his own town of Pittsburgh, Paul started St. Lynn’s Press in 2005 and produced books on organic gardening, zen life, help for caregivers, and the popular “Queer Questions, Straight Talk” for families.  Now focussed exclusively on gardening and other “green” topics, this year St. Lynn’s is producing gardening books by Pittsburgh’s most notable garden writers – Doug Oster, Jessica Wallister, and NancyKelly Gift – with titles like Good Weed, Bad Weed and Good Bug, Bad Bug, a vegan recipe book, and one about “Living off the grid for 36 years” that I’m really curious about.

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.”

As a small publisher who still wants to find time to garden, Paul’s ultimate goal is to publish one book a month throughout the year, so for the months when gardening books don’t sell well he’s looking for proposals covering topics like social responsibility, health and healing, simple living, and sustainability.
Besides a meaty topic, what else is he looking for in authors?  This is no surprise: “More than ever, an author must have a strong platform of their own in these times to help a book succeed. The social media sites and well-read blogs today have for the most part taken the place of traditional book reviews.”

AFTER WORK
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.

Posted by on January 24, 2011 at 4:58 am, in the category Unusually Clever People.
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8 Responses to “High Hopes for St. Lynn’s Press”

  1. Paul Kelly was at Garden Writers in Dallas. It’s nice to see someone so dedicated to producing good books in a sustainable fashion. Doug and Jessica’s books are great.

  2. Layanee says:

    There is no substitute for passion and it seems that Paul Kelly has it in spades, so to speak.

  3. Laura says:

    This is good information for those of us with writing dreams. Thanks

  4. Tara dillard says:

    Odd, a book publisher knowing more than IGC’s. Hope they are paying attention.

    Grocery stores sell gasoline, yawn. Isn’t it time the hort industry kept up with the times?

    This guy is an intuitive.

    Thanks for the introduction….

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  5. paul is one cool guy. all the way to the bone. thanks for a wonderful introduction to a man i barely met last summer at a conference, but with whom i fell in step with almost instantly.

  6. Rick Baker says:

    Paul. I invented a product called the Weed Free Garden Blanket. Basically it is a new type of landscape fabric with built in irrigation. It waters below the surface. Blocks weeds. Works great.

    Also have a book called the 7-Minute Organic Garden. I would be happy to send one to you for your review.

    Love the blog.
    Rick Baker

  7. Pam/Digging says:

    Interesting to hear about a garden book publisher I didn’t know about and what they’re looking for.

  8. I met Paul at GWA Dallas. He is a very nice guy, and I liked the books I saw on his table, especially Good Bug, Bad Bug. It looked very well done.

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