The sign above Todd Larson's desk reads "Respect the author." It's his takeaway from years as a published academician who was sometimes disrespected by the publishing houses that printed his work.
"I've written some textbooks that sold really well," says the Xavier University history professor, "but found that my publishers offered only miniscule royalties. I felt like traditional publishers were consistently taking advantage of authors, and I wanted to create a publishing operation that would do things differently."
That's when the lifelong angler teamed with Marc Hanger and Chad Beckett. Together they started Whitefish Press, a publishing house dedicated to producing a wide variety of works on fishing history and tackle, two of Larson's great passions.
"We started in 2006 with a plan to slowly grow our business and create a special niche for the people who care as much about fishing and fishing history as we do," Larson explains. "We have a 'Royalty Share' program that pays authors up to 50 percent in royalties for their work. And we're a full-scale publisher that works with one of the best book binders in the country."
For the first three years, Larson and his partners hoped that Whitefish Press would merely survive. Instead, they are thriving, and 2009 has been their best year yet.
Their publications are for the fishing faithful, not the faint of heart. They're books that true fanatics will appreciate. The Autobiography of Dr. James Alexander Henshall by Clyde E. Drury, The Origins of American Angling by Mary Kefover Kelly and The History of the Fish Hook in America by Larson himself are just a few of the titles. These books may not be for everyone, but for anyone interested in the history of our sport, they're must reads.
"Fishing books are a labor of love. They're not just money making efforts," Larson maintains. "We choose books based on their timelessness and whether we'd like to read them."
The result is one of the most distinctive publishing houses anywhere.
For anglers with an appreciation of history, Whitefish Press is a treasure trove. And for writers looking to publish a fishing book especially one on fishing history or tackle, subjects which aren't known for dominating bestseller lists Whitefish Press is a sanctuary.
"Anyone who's ever written a fishing book knows that it's a labor of love," Larson says. "That book is their baby, and they don't want to entrust it to anyone who won't take great care of it."
Patrick Garner was writing Playing with Fire: The Life and Fly Rods of E.W. Edwards when he was contacted by Larson about the possibility of having the book published by Whitefish Press. Garner, a dedicated environmentalist, had already spoken with other outdoor publishing houses and had been told that it would take between one and three years before his manuscript would be printed.
"Todd told me that we could get it done in four to six months ... and he lived up to that," Garner notes. "But more importantly he collaborated with me to make the book better and add zing to the materials I had already researched. It was a great experience. We sold out of the first two editions and now we're getting ready to come out with a paperback edition. Todd and Whitefish bring a scholar's interest and perspective to their work, and I have nothing but praise for them."
To check out the offerings from Whitefish Press, visit www.whitefishpress.com. If you've got a fishing book or just an idea for a fishing book you can reach their acquisitions editor, Marc Hanger, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who knows, you just might be the next Dr. Henshall and write a Book of the Black Bass for the new millennium.