Passion goes to press on Schiffer book farm

Schiffer Publishing is willing to bet on finding kindred spirits for their authors’ passions – ranging from roller coasters in the U.K. to photography in Seattle.

Senior book editor, Catherine Mallette explained the process of taking an enthusiast's idea and growing it into a publication on the company's book farm to a packed Red Lion room at the Galer Estate Vineyard and Winery on Sunday, Jan. 31. The event culminated the month long celebration of the art of writing along the Brandywine Artisans Wine Trail.

Many aspiring writers came to hear Mallette describe what publishers, specifically Schiffer, look for in a manuscript. Although authors are provided a “Book Building Guide,” different authors require different help with their projects.

Schiffer Book Farm in Atglen Pennsylvania (Courtesy Photo)

Schiffer Book Farm in Atglen Pennsylvania (Courtesy Photo)

“It often takes two years” to produce the finished work, Mallette told the audience. Schiffer does not have any preconceived ideas of the length, size or shape of a book, which gives the author freedom to envision the project. Mallette presented three authors so they could share their experience.

Writing was the profession of the first speaker, Catherine Quillman,  who worked previously for the Philadelphia Inquirer. When she wrote 100 Artists of Brandywine Valley, she was familiar with writing and deadlines.

The other two authors had no experience writing books. Antelo Devereux is a photographer who wanted to produce collections of his works from different geographical regions, ranging from Chester County to the coast of Maine. “The hardest part was deciding which photographs to use,” Devereux said.

Schiffer wouldn’t help him with selection, but assisted him with the writing and layout of his six books. Devereux brought original photographs to sell at the winery event, as well as signed copies of Chester County Perspectives.

Artist Robert C. Jackson knew exactly how he wanted his book to look. He wasn’t too interested in the writing. He gave himself the gift of creating a book for his 50th birthday. The result is the lavishly illustrated Behind the Easel. Jackson interviewed 20 contemporary representational artists. Each artist was asked the same questions, such as “what is your daily routine?” and “what is your inspiration?”

The artists represented in Jackson’s book will convene for an exhibit at the Delaware Art Museum in the fall of 2016. “Truth & Vision: 21st Century Realism” will open Oct. 22  and run through Jan. 22. According to the museum's website, the exhibit will feature artists from throughout the U.S. and Canada, including Steven Assael, Bo Bartlett, Margaret Bowland, Daniel Sprick, and Jerome Within. "'Truth & Vision: 21st Century Realism' reveals the contemporary developments in a mode of painting historically tied to the greater Brandywine Valley,” the website said.

Chadds Ford resident Mary Marines went to the program out of curiosity. She has been encouraging her niece to start writing a blog or a book. “To have a guide as to how to put together and submit your material is so very helpful, not only for the first-time author, but also the seasoned ones," said Marines. "This was my first exposure to publishing a book, and it was very positive.  The process is not as intimidating as I had thought.”

Winery owner Lele Galer said she was pleased with the turnout for the event. “We will have another book-signing and artist/author get-together with Schiffer in the spring to highlight the publication of their new encaustic artists' book,” said Galer, who is also an artist.

Schiffer, a family-owned business located on a farm in Atglen, produces 300 titles per year. Their warehouse contains 5,000 books. According to Mallette, no books are remaindered or discounted, and the titles don’t go from best-seller to zero. Sales are steady. Each title is stored patiently until just the right person discovers and buys it, she said.

The company motto: “Find your niche and scratch it.”

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About Emily Myers

Emily Myers has lived and worked in Chadds Ford for over thirty years.  She founded the parent company of Chadds Ford Live, Decision Design Research, Inc., in 1982.  ChaddsFordLive.com represents the confluence of Myers' long time, deep involvement in technology and community. Myers was a founding member of the Chadds Ford Business Association and currently serves on its board of directors.  Her hobbies include bridge, golf, photography and Tai Chi. She lives with her husband, Jim Lebedda, in Chadds Ford Township.

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