It's been several months since Carole Baron launched her new publishing imprint, now called Madison Park Press, at Bookspan. So what does Baron, senior v-p and editor-in-chief at Bookspan as well as editor-at-large at Knopf, hope to accomplish with Madison? "I want to be a home for eclectic writers who have a voice that deserves to be heard," Baron explained.
Baron drew headlines last fall when she acquired rights to publish James Grippando's Lying with Strangers before it was released to the trade (Grippando's usual publisher, HarperCollins, eventually bought trade rights). Since then, Baron has inked several more "world exclusive book club rights deals" and has scheduled 12 titles to be released this year under the Madison imprint. While Bookspan has long had a book development program, the creation of the imprint gives Bookspan the ability to develop new writers under a specific brand, Baron said.
Each publishing deal negotiated by Baron is different, and each book will be offered through different Bookspan clubs. One title Baron is very high on is Isms by Arthur Goldwag. The book will be released as a November main selection of the Quality Paperback Book Club and as an alternate in other clubs. Baron sold trade rights to Vintage, which will publish the title in mid 2007. Other titles that will be Madison exclusives include J.F. Friedman's A Killing in the Valley and The Fourth House, a first novel by Kerry Zukus set for release next spring.
In addition to buying original works, Baron has done several deals to give popular overseas authors who don't have an American publisher an outlet in the U.S. Paullina Simons, whose first book did well at Bookspan but who didn't have a trade publisher for her second title, Tatiana and Alexander, was picked up by Bookspan and published in October. The U.K. author's next book, The Summer Garden, will be released in October as a Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternate. Most Madison titles are geared for the typical Doubleday member—women over 40 not interested in chick lit.
Baron said Bookspan is looking to give its publishing arm a higher profile to encourage more authors and agents to think of the company as a publishing option. Stronger authors, in turn, will make the exclusive offerings more appealing to club members. As Baron explained in a letter to Bookspan employees, in a rapidly changing publishing environment, "it is important for us to expand beyond our core business to stay competitive. With Madison Park Press, Bookspan is doing just that."