The Millions

A Day in the Life of an Indie Publisher: Akashic Books

At 4:45 a.m., Ibrahim Ahmad’s alarm clock began pouring out the first bars of Leonard Cohen’s “Lullaby”—“Sleep, baby, sleep. The day’s on the run. The wind in the trees is talking in tongues…” With this bit of counterintuitive programming, another long day in the life of an independent publisher had begun.

After a quick breakfast and an industrial-strength quadruple espresso, Ahmad and his wife, Cassie Carothers, left their home in exurban Yorktown Heights, N.Y., and boarded a train that would carry them from the northern fringe of Cheever country to Grand Central Terminal in midtown Manhattan. For many of their fellow commuters, the next hour would be torture or drooling nap time, but for Ahmad, the editorial director at Akashic Books, it was a precious opportunity to focus on his twin passions without interruption: reading and editing. On this Friday morning, he was making a first pass through the manuscript of a debut novel that had landed on the Akashic slush pile.

Husband and wife parted ways at Grand Central—Carothers works for a nonprofit in downtown to . Coming this summer is , which has a special place in Ahmad’s heart because he has been nursing this new collection of Iraqi crime fiction toward publication for nearly a decade. There were no scheduled meetings on this particular Friday, but on other weekdays there are regular staff meetings to discuss current and imminent releases, editorial meetings to talk over recent submissions and map out the publishing calendar, and a monthly marketing meeting to plot publicity campaigns. Everyone on the small staff was busy—it’s not the sort of shop where people hang out talking about the World Cup or their weekend at the Hamptons.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

Related Interests

More from The Millions

The Millions8 min read
When We Were Young: Christine Sneed in Conversation with Anthony Varallo
I don’t know why I have to keep learning the same lesson again, but here’s one I can't seem to remember: Your writing doesn’t care about your plans for it. The post When We Were Young: Christine Sneed in Conversation with Anthony Varallo appeared fir
The Millions13 min readPsychology
We Can Be Anyone: A Pride Month Conversation with Nicole Dennis-Benn
I think of that little girl in me, that 17-year-old, 14-year-old, who wanted to see books like mine. I wanted to see love between two women on the page. The post We Can Be Anyone: A Pride Month Conversation with Nicole Dennis-Benn appeared first on T
The Millions4 min read
Tuesday New Release Day: Bhattacharya, Mechling, Rilke, Ginzburg, and More
This week's fresh reads include stories of adult friendship, ”new“ Rilke, and a secret history of Charles Manson and the CIA. The post Tuesday New Release Day: Bhattacharya, Mechling, Rilke, Ginzburg, and More appeared first on The Millions.