I grew up in Madison, WI where I fell in love with reading, music, baseball, and traveling. Books offered an opportunity to see the world from the comfort of my living room, baseball was full of larger-than-life characters, traveling introduced me to new places, and music gave me a soundtrack.
Around the time I graduated from college (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee | 1999 | BA English & Philosophy) I began developing a company that ultimately became Bleak House Books—a small press specializing in literary and crime fiction. From 2001 to 2005 we scraped by on punk rock DIY adrenaline and a healthy dose of naivete. But somehow, even with a lack of resources and experience, we were able to develop a strong reputation for the quality of the books we published.
During those years I was fortunate to be invited to speak at a variety of writing conferences, meet with respected publishing industry professionals, and even attend a Hollywood red carpet premier. The travels took me from publishing’s hub in NYC to more out-of-the-way places like a book release party held in a prison in North Florida and sailing on Buzzard’s Bay. I talked to everybody I could, wherever I was, to hear their stories in the hopes of better understanding what makes us all human.
In 2005 Bleak House Books was acquired by Big Earth Publishing—a larger media company who provided the necessary capital to grow the list and reach. Our catalog included books from veteran crime writers Reed Farrel Coleman and Victoria Houston and emerging writers like Craig McDonald and Nathan Singer. Our books were regularly reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, and other trade publications. In 2008 three Bleak House titles were finalists for Edgar Awards, the only time a small press has managed this feat. Also in 2008 I was named to Publishers Weekly’s “Fifty Under Forty” list highlighting young people changing the publishing industry.
In 2009 my business partner Alison Janssen and I left Bleak House/Big Earth to start Tyrus Books. We continued to publish the same mix of literary and crime fiction, including Scott O’Connor’s debut novel, Untouchable, the winner of Barnes & Noble’s Discover Award for Fiction. We also published the short story anthology, Delta Blues, which featured stories from John Grisham, James Lee Burke, Charlaine Harris, and a foreword from Morgan Freeman.
Alison left Tyrus in 2010 and I sold the company to F+W Media in 2011, where I continued to serve in the role of Publisher. Books published by Tyrus between 2011 – 2016 were nominated for a variety of awards, were reviewed in major media like the New York Times and People. Tyrus titles routinely made end of the year Best Of lists and the company enjoyed a well-respected reputation.
I was invited to discuss publishing industry matters in different publications including Huffington Post and Hey! There’s a Dead Guy in the Living Room and continued a robust travel schedule for different conferences and author events. These events and the relationships I developed with my authors were and continue to be very important to me. I’ve been introduced to different ways of life and activities that have greatly enriched my own life and more importantly, my understanding of characters and motivation.
In late 2013 after the suicide of a friend, I created the Be Local Everywhere initiative with the goal of volunteering in all 50 States during 2014 while continuing in my role as Publisher of Tyrus.
In 2016 Tyrus Books was sold by F+W Media to Simon & Schuster/CBS. Simon & Schuster closed Tyrus in April of 2017 and moved the catalog to their Gallery imprint, ending my tenure. After a few months of pulling weeds and taking care of things on my To Do List, I am now ready to use my experience in publishing to help others realize their book dreams.