Undeterred by predictions that most people will get their information in the future through digital means, Tony Lyons is taking another crack at book publishing. Lyons, who took over the helm of the Lyons Press from his father and was president and publisher of the company when it was sold to Globe Pequot, has formed Skyhorse Publishing. Lyons, who left Globe Pequot in 2004, has set the ambitious goal of publishing 100 titles in 2007 and hitting $5 million in sales in the next two to three years. "I think it's difficult for an independent publisher to survive at under $5 million and that's why I've raised enough money to get us to that level within two and a half years," Lyons said.
Skyhorse's list will have some similarities to the old Lyons Press, with books on sports, flyfishing, nature and history a central part of Skyhorse's publishing program. The eclectic list will also include narrative nonfiction, military history, gambling and business titles. In addition, Lyons intends to bring back "forgotten classics," which he described as good books that may not have fit well with the original publisher's program "and have fallen by the wayside." Asked what ties the list together, Lyons said the books "reflect areas that people are passionate about."
To help create a large list in a short time frame, Lyons has signed copublishing deals with a number of organizations. The most significant deal to date is with GolfWeek magazine, which Lyons estimates will yield 10 to 15 titles per year. Lyons also has a copub agreement with Fish & Fly magazine and one with the American Sportfishing Association. The ASA deal, Lyons said, is an example of what he hopes is the first of a number of agreements with conservation organizations; Lyons's royalties will help them with their environmental work.
Joining Lyons at Skyhorse is Bill Wolfsthal, who has been named associate publisher and director of sales and marketing; Wolfsthal had been at Abrams. Mark Weinstein, formerly with McGraw-Hill, is a senior editor, as is Brando Skyhorse, formerly a senior editor at Grove Atlantic (and who, Lyons said, "graciously allowed the company to use his last name"). Lyons's father, Nick Lyons, will be a consulting editor. One of the books Skyhorse will reprint is Robin Moore's Green Berets, which Nick Lyons copyedited at Crown. Tony Lyons hopes to build his full-time staff to 12 by the end of 2006.
The company is based in New York, and distribution will be handled by Sterling Publishing.