Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Cinco Puntos Press Blogspot


Welcome to the Cinco Puntos Press blog. We’re really glad that your travels on the web have brought you here. To tell you the truth, we’re a little bit surprised to be here ourselves. If you’d told us some twenty years ago when we first cooked up plans for Cinco Puntos in our house that we’d be meeting anyone out in cyberspace this many years later, we would have been amazed. And we still are amazed, because publishing is one miraculous business, kind of like growing lettuce which, as you can see, we like to do in the late fall and early winter. To watch a book unfold, like watching a beautiful lettuce grow from seed, to watch it find its audience and its life in the hands of a reader is a stunningly miraculous business. We want to share this business with you in all its myriad aspects, and hope that you will, in turn, share your thoughts about publishing and/or about our books with us.

We are Bobby and Lee Byrd, owners and publishers of Cinco Puntos. We started Cinco Puntos Press in 1985 out of our house on Louisville Street. We are a small, very independent publishing company rooted here in El Paso, Texas, not three miles north of the U.S. Mexican Border. We are both writers. We started Cinco Puntos because we wanted more time to write and we found as we have moved further and further into the publishing life, that publishing, like writing, is an act of self-discovery. Every book takes us to a new place. Each book leads us into unexpected intellectual terrains. These are places we might have never experienced without the provocation of new books and the business of making and selling them.

Publishing, like writing and gardening, is an organic process. We don’t know exactly what the book will become when we first see it in manuscript, but in the give and take between us and the author and, as it passes through our hands as editors, and through the hands of the people we work with who translate or design or illustrate the text, it becomes something new, different, and wonderful—a true collaboration.

We come to publishing as writers. We aren’t educators. We think it’s important to note that. Manuscripts are really interesting to us when the writing is amazing or the voice of the author is unique or the book opens up a door into a culture or a people that hasn’t been opened before. Or when the writer is someone whose work we’ve just plain admired over a long period of time. There are so many fine publishers who understand the educational needs of children and what kids should be learning at what age, but that’s not how we approach publishing.

Because we are so deeply involved with the books we publish, they are BOOKS to us, not products, not items. They’re more like children, and when people love them, we are very proud and very pleased. And even when people don’t love them, we still have that sense that they are very good and they give us a great deal of satisfaction.
Our first three books—Dagoberto Gilb’s Winners on the Pass Line; Joe Somoza’s book Backyard Poems; and Joe Hayes’ La Llorona, The Weeping Woman, our best-selling book ever—established a DNA imprint of how we were to grow. These authors were all close friends, they had these three wonderful books, each was very generous to trust us. We wanted very much to be publishers, whatever that meant to us at the time. Our initial ignorance about publishing was not bliss, but it did translate into innocence and energy and curiosity. If we had known what we were getting into back then, we probably would have been frightened away.

But we weren’t. Since those first three books, we have published close to 130 books, each one with its own story. We have moved the business from our home in the Five Points Neighborhood (thus, the name of our press) to Texas Avenue in downtown El Paso. And in 2004 our son John, who grew up packing books for us, came home from Austin to work with us. He’s been vital to our understanding of what Cinco Puntos is and what we are to become.

We are distributed to the trade by Consortium Books Sales and Distribution, now owned by Perseus. We can’t say enough good things about Consortium, about the people we work with, about their professionalism and their enthusiasm for our books, and about all we’ve learned by being affiliated with so many like-minded indie publishers through Consortium. Well, maybe we can say enough and that will be one of the things we talk about: distribution. Because distribution is a big issue for a publisher. And distribution is a big issue if you plan to self-publish.

Certainly, it’s a wonderful time to be a publisher, filled with all sorts of economic risks and intellectual and cultural possibilities. We hope to document our place in this changing environment through this blog. And we hope you will join us, adding comments and sending suggestions for material and links to include in our blog.


5 comments:

Hannah Hollandbyrd said...

This should be interesting.

Irene D. Rivers said...

The building looks very nice. Thanks for sharing your story. It is very inspiring.
Miss you, Irene

Pistol Pete said...

Outstanding! I look forward to collecting insight that may help me get published. Cinco Puntos publishes what I can't find anywhere else. How underserved the border community is.

Ernie said...

Great to see you all in the blogosphere. Congratulations on winning the AILA picture book award for Crossing Bok Chitto!

Don said...

This is a good idea.

Writers write.