She knows what she’s getting into, and she’s doing it anyway. Linda Leith has been a part of the literary landscape in Canada for a long time as a writer, translator, magazine editor and publisher, and as the founder of Montreal’s Blue Metropolis literary festival. But after stepping down last year from her roles as the festival’s president and artistic director, there was one job in the industry she hadn’t tried yet – book publisher.
“It looked to me like a challenge,” says Leith. “And you know what? It is.” Nevertheless, Linda Leith Publishing released its first two titles April 20 at the Blue Metropolis festival. These first two are part of her LLP Singles series of short books that can be read in a sitting. Political journalist Rick Salutin’s essay Keeping the Public in Public Education is 64 pages. The Darling of Kandahar is the first novel written in English by Romanian Canadian writer Felicia Mihali, who has published seven novels since 2002 in French. It is 124 pages. Leith is publishing both print and e-books and will also publish full-length books.Five more titles are lined up for the fall.
Leith agrees that this is a daunting time to start a publishing company. “There’s bad news almost every week. I’m in Montreal. Nicholas Hoare is closing [his independent book]store here and in Ottawa.But she sees opportunities in the turmoil. “If you are starting up now as I am, certainly you want to be working in e-books as well as print. You want to be small and nimble. You don’t want big overheads because there is just too much uncertainty,” she acknowledges. “But I think there are always good writers and there are always readers who are interested in good materials.”
All the change in the industry means there is more flexibility to experiment with lengths and formats, such as her short books, she says. “This new world invites us to be imaginative and innovative,” she says.
The Salutin book will be priced at C$14.95 in Canada, $12.95 in the U.S. and the e-book will sell for $8.95. The Literary Press Group is handling sales of Leith’s books in the U.S. and Canada and LitDistCo is the distributor.