Considering going nonprofit
Torrey House was founded on the principle that literature is a primary influence and creator of culture. When Wallace Stegner spoke of creating a society to match our scenery in the West he was talking about hope and that when we learn to focus on cooperation, not rugged individualism, we will be able to achieve our potential in full. Given that he was a literary man, he wielded a pen to urge our hope toward cooperation. At Torrey House we hope to carry on that tradition. The scenery is worth it and we don’t see any other press not on the east coast focused on literature and the land.
The challenge is to sell enough books to make a difference. Selling books takes money. As we enter our fifth year we can see that book sales are only ever going to cover about half of our expenses. Many if not all of our literary publisher competitors have found this to be true and raise the money necessary to keep going through outside, nonprofit contributions. I had hoped that we could find a niche that would be self supporting, but it doesn’t look like that find is imminent. Torrey House is a publisher with a twin mission. We want to support love of the land and we want to do it through good literature. It turns out that selling books is expensive–we were told that early on–and that we are going to need outside support to sustain our efforts.
We have come to see that with a little more money we could sell more books. With a little more money we could expand our love of the land mission to include more effort on college level environmental humanities programs. With a little more money we could work on expanding what Kirsten calls the almost nonexistent “literary ecosystem” of the Intermountain West. With a little more money we could add more writer workshops where we might expose writers to the citizen science programs promoted by many of the conservation NGOs like that of Wild Utah Project and Grand Canyon Trust. In fact, with a little money and cooperation we could become the de-facto publishing partner to any number of conservation NGOs. We might be able to partner in the direction of adding films to compliment our books. And we would be able, with support and cooperation, to push all of our titles harder and get more copies into readers’ hands where these works can make a difference.
We have more homework to do to convert Torrey House Press to nonprofit status and it will take a bit of time. If you have sent us a submission to consider you might have to grant us a little more patience than usual before we get back to you. Know that we are working on creating a platform where we can get more great work into a geography of hope fueled by love, passion, understanding and literature to match.