It’s not possible to write a post that expresses the mixed emotions I feel as I prepare to leave Seal Press at the end of this month and strike out on my own to grow Warner Coaching. I am thrilled and ready, eager and proud, and sad and nostalgic all at once. Seal has given me more than I ever could have imagined possible, but the drive to do my own thing has been an undeniable force, buoying me even in moments when I’ve felt like I must be crazy to leave such a good thing.
Seal Press has been so much more than a job for me. Seal was born in 1976, the same year as me. Before I started working at Seal I didn’t even consider myself a feminist. I was one of those, “I’m not a feminist, but . . .” people. Oh, what I didn’t know!! Today, I am a proud feminist. I have learned so much from Seal. It’s shaped me and made me a more conscious person. I’ve learned important lessons and sometimes hard lessons. I’ve had the great privilege of shepherding so many wonderful authors’ books into print, and I’m blessed today to count many of those authors as my dear friends.
Seal has such an important mission, to inform women’s lives. The women who work there are passionate advocates of women, and the books we publish—the books I’ve had the great honor to acquire into the program—help, inspire, move, and, most important, tell the truth of women’s experiences. When I look at the books in this banner (from Seal’s Facebook page—like it!), I well up because every one of those books has a story, a wonderful author or authors attached to it, and exists because Seal continues to take risks and publish such smart books.
Seal has given me another important gift in that it brought me my lovely and talented wife, Krista Lyons, who will remain at the helm of the program as its thoughtful and wise publisher. Beyond sharing a love for books and publishing, Krista and I together have loved and fostered and grown Seal Press over these seven-and-a-half years. I’m grateful to her for everything she’s taught me and for everything she’s brought to my life (our 3 boys being by far the number one most rewarding and amazing gift, and Seal ranking a not-too-distant second).
To my team at Seal, thank you. To my former team at North Atlantic Books, thank you, too. Richard Grossinger taught me how to acquire books, and I am grateful to him for mentoring me in a process you cannot learn in school—a feeling for what makes a book work and what makes a book publishable.
I have been in a rather enviable position these thirteen years, having the awesome job of working as a gatekeeper and a decider. And yet, interestingly, what I most love about my coaching practice is helping those writers who aren’t shoo-ins and who haven’t figured out how to penetrate what can sometimes feel like a 100-foot steel barricade. Publishing is like a labyrinth, and I enjoy the challenges and love the opportunities it provides people. I also love what it’s becoming as it changes. I like that the barriers to entry are lower than they’ve been. I like that self-publishing is both a more viable option than ever and something whose stigma, as far as I can tell, has nearly vanished.
I feel equally privileged to work with my clients at Warner Coaching as I do with the most high-profile authors I’ve worked with at Seal and North Atlantic, some of whom have been bestsellers, a handful of whom are quite famous in their own right. But at the end of the day, everyone who’s aspiring to write a book has something to say—and I’ve been moved to tears by writing that will never go on to be published on a traditional press, and been educated by authors who have no platform to speak of. So I see it as my calling to help writers figure out how to deliver what they’re writing in such a way that it actually reaches their intended readership AND to navigate the world of publishing until they land wherever it is they’re supposed to land: with an agent, with the right house, as a self-published author, or even as the author of an ebook.
This calling is the reason I’m saying goodbye to Seal Press this month, with a soaring heart. Thank you all for reading, and please know that my doors are open for business. I’m taking on new clients and accepting referrals. Spread the word!
Until next month,