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 Millions7 min read
Storytelling Should Never Be Confused with Sociology: The Millions Interviews John Domini
John Domini’s new novel concludes his trilogy set in Naples after a fictional earthquake, engrossing readers in a gripping mystery. The post Storytelling Should Never Be Confused with Sociology: The Millions Interviews John Domini appeared first on T
The Millions5 min read
October Preview: The Millions Most Anticipated (This Month)
André Aciman. Zadie Smith. Ben Lerner. Saeed Jones. Jeanette Winterson. It's October and brand new books are dropping like beautiful fall leaves. The post October Preview: The Millions Most Anticipated (This Month) appeared first on The Millions.
The Millions3 min read
We’re in a Rough Place in History Right Now: The Millions Interviews Carmen Maria Machado
The award-winning author of ‘Her Body and Other Parties’ on writing fiction for today, the tyranny of genre, and reading outside of our comfort zones. The post We’re in a Rough Place in History Right Now: The Millions Interviews Carmen Maria Machado