Before she was the head of Enliven Books, Atria Books’ newest imprint, Zhena Muzyka published Life by the Cup: Ingredients for a Purpose-Filled Life of Bottomless Happiness and Limitless Success, which Atria released last June. In Cup, Muzyka chronicles her struggles as a young mother who manages to create a multimillion-dollar tea company called Zhena’s Gypsy Tea. Muzyka enjoyed her publishing experience with Atria so much that she began scouting for the house. “I fell in love with the company,” she said. “From their vision, to what they publish and how they publish. They have so much innovation and creativity. I started bringing authors to them, and one day I asked Judith Curr [Atria’s publisher] what it would take to have my own imprint.”
Curr had enough of a sense of Muzyka’s taste, talent, and drive that she created an imprint focused on spirituality and wellness, appointing Muzyka publisher at large. Enliven Books will be based in Ojai, Calif., and Muzyka’s vision is to be a holistic publisher for mission-driven authors. Enliven’s first title, Bouncing Forward, by Michaela Haas, looks at post-traumatic-growth research from Buddhist and clinical perspectives and will be published in October, 2015.
Muzyka will run Enliven out of her yurt—yes, she built one of the round Asian tent structures near her house because “a round space is very creative”—and is in the process of assembling her team, though she also plans to draw on Atria’s staff. She has signed eight titles and expects to publish six to 10 titles a year. “I’m looking for ancient wisdom with a fresh, 21st-century take,” said Muzyka. The imprint’s name came after a phone call with Muzyka’s mother. “I told her I had to come up with a name for my imprint. She said, ‘As soon as you hang up the phone you’re going to hear a word in your head.’ I hung up and heard enliven. I looked up what it meant: to add color, to uplift. I thought, ‘How fun; that’s exactly what I want to do.’”
She notes that her tea company’s success came from its mission to end poverty for tea workers. “No one just needed another tea company. I made it a mission-driven company, and that’s why we were successful. With Enliven I am doing the same thing. I am focusing on being a holistic publisher for very mission-driven authors. I’m looking at how we can make the publishing experience really fulfilling for authors.”
Muzyka has also come to appreciate why her editor explained that her first book, which was 700 pages long, needed cutting. “I remember when my editor explained that I had to cut two thirds of my book out. I started crying, saying, ‘But it’s art! I can’t cut that much! It’s my grandmother’s story!’ I’ve come full circle. Now I’m the one explaining the business side of things to authors, but trying to do it with a lot of compassion.”