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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 24, 2011

First novel picked up by Simon and Schuster
A Golden opportunity for Comeback Love

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — Staff Pick’s Press achieved success “right out of the gate,” according to its owner, Susan Novotny.

Novotny, who also owns The Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza, started the independent publishing company last fall. The first novel the company published, called Comeback Love, by local author Peter Golden, was recently picked up by Atria Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, based in New York City. It is one of the four largest publishers in English and is now owned by the CBS Corporation.

Novotny had aspirations of starting a publishing house for over 15 years. She had read the manuscript for Golden’s debut novel, and knew he was “shopping it around” to different agents in New York City. He was having a hard time getting it published, and she saw it as an opportunity to start her company.

Golden’s book was a natural first choice for the publishing house, she said. She described it as an “easy-to-read, intelligent romance.” The novel, which moves between the past and present, tells the story of two lovers who came of age together in the 1960s, were torn apart by life changes, and reunited decades later.

“I always thought it was a good book and had commercial potential,” said Golden. Novotny said The Book House has sold over 300 copies of the novel in its store since the Nov. 6 release date.

In January, Novotny attended the American Booksellers Association Winter Institute Conference, where she showed Golden’s book to some of her colleagues. After she returned to The Book House, several publishers contacted her and expressed interest in Comeback Love.

“Before we knew it, the book was on the auction block,” Novotny said.

“This is exciting because you get a much wider distribution,” Golden said. Atria Books now owns the rights to the novel, and will distribute it nationally.

Golden, who is known locally for the term he served on the school board and for his 2009 run for town supervisor, had formerly written non-fiction books. He wrote for Capitol Region Magazine, penned a biography of Max Fisher, and has written a history of the Cold War, called O Powerful Western Star, which will be published in the next year.

The sale is good for Novotny’s publishing house, too.

“The success is a good incentive for writers to send us their potential best-sellers,” said Novotny; she said the publishing house is currently reading through several manuscripts.

Although the slush pile — from which publishers would pluck undiscovered writers — may be a thing of the past, small independent presses are paving a new route for unpublished novelists.

“Staff Pick’s Press now has people’s attention,” said Golden, who is working on his second novel.

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