A Literary Way of Life: Spotlight on New England

The following is an excerpt from A Literary Way of Life: Spotlight on New England, by Alex Green, Publishers Weekly:

Across the city at Hamilcar Publications, that closeness is incubating a new publishing house, and it’s no accident. Cofounder Kyle Sarofeen’s entire career has been in New England publishing, including roles at Elsevier, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Quarto, and Pearson. When Sarofeen and his partner, Andy Komack, decided to launch a new press in 2018 with a focus on boxing, they didn’t think twice about where to do it.

“I was born in a place where all these publishing houses are,” says Sarofeen, who grew up north of Boston. “Some people come from other places to work in publishing here, but it’s kind of easier if you’re born here. I’m a product of four different publishing houses based here.”

In the tradition of their fellow New England publishers, Sarofeen and Komack have assembled a small, dedicated team of people who are drilling down on an area of specialization, with the belief that readers want to read deeply into a subject as much as they want to go wide. “Our copyeditor, I first met at Houghton,” Sarofeen says. “Our typesetter, I used when I was at Elsevier. Our manufacturing manager was at Quarto. I picked up someone at each place. I was keyed into all these people I worked with at other publishers here.”

Through the website Hannibal Boxing Media, the publisher cultivates readership by producing articles on subjects related to its new and forthcoming titles. For instance, a piece by site editor Carlos Acevedo led to the forthcoming Sporting Blood (Mar. 2020), and another set of pieces have led to the creation of a cross-over series on crime and boxing titled Hamilcar Noir. The short reads are meant to hook new readers and capture a sense of place, including the publishers’ own backyard, which is the subject of the forthcoming Slaughter in the Streets: When Boston Became Boxing’s Murder Capitol (Feb 2020).

For Sarofeen, it’s all second nature and a way of life that balances hard work, craft, patience, and directness. “Building a book is like being a carpenter,” he says. “You can’t just pick it up. It’s a trade. You can’t just build a house. It’s like anything: if you’ve done it for a long time, you’re comfortable doing it.”

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