This is the second part of our interview with Nico Lorenzutti of ROH Press.
Were there any legal hoops you had to jump through? What about rights to Salgari’s works?
One of the first things I did was research who held the rights to Salgari’s works; they were in the public domain so I was free to proceed. I tried for a while to interest traditional publishers, was rejected, and tried a few more times with the same result. I decided to test the waters with iUniverse, then published a sequel with Lulu a couple of years later. They were both good learning experiences, I received good feedback from readers, learned to improve my writing and how to design and format my own books. Sales were good enough for me to start my own company. I set up ROH Press as a sole proprietorship to get a business number and take advantage of tax rebates. There was a name search involved and I had to fill out a few forms. I think the entire process was completed in less than an hour and might have cost me $60. Once I had my business documents, I set up an account with Lightning Source and had my books distributed through Ingrams.
How do you protect your own work? How do you get the ISBNs for your books?
So far protecting my work hasn’t been an issue. However, that may change as we launch our first ebooks this spring. I got my first block of 10 ISBNs for free from Library and Archives Canada in 2007. [Drugstore note: This is a service provided by the Canadian government. Americans, you’re out of luck. (Again!) Not sure about the UK, Australia, or New Zealand on this.] Publishers are assigned an ISBN prefix with them and in exchange must provide at least one copy of their work upon publication.
All of your book work is on top of working full-time. How do you find a balance?
My productivity tends to fluctuate. I teach at a university in South Korea and I have a fairly flexible schedule. Still there are periods when I teach on intensive programs, 6-8 hours a day and by the time I get home I’m too brain dead to do anything but zone out in front of the TV for an hour or two. I’m also studying for my MA in Modern English Language at the University of Nottingham, so my days are pretty full. Still, during a regular semester I try to schedule in a couple of hours each day for study and at least three hours a week for ROH Press. I’m lucky in the fact that I have a very supportive partner. She’s my editor, my sounding board, my second pair of eyes. We’ve travelled Borneo together, the setting of some of Salgari’s most popular tales and she patiently accompanied me as I visited the places I’d read about in my youth. It’s not every woman that would accompany her partner keris and parang (headhunter knives) shopping or trek into the Bornean jungle to find the forgotten grave of a Malay pirate chief. It was an amazing experience and made all the better as the following year ITNM published the first Malay translation of Salgari’s The Pirates of Malaysia based on my English translation.
Nico’s last next week!