ZORAN ZIVKOVIC'S LAST GUEST POST: POLARIS
Many thanks to Zoran Zivkovic guest blogging this week in honor of his new book launch. Zoran also has sent me his publishing schedule for the next year:
Here is the list of the foreign editions of my books for the period 2006-2008. Quite frankly, I doubt that such an abundance could ever repeat itself in the future, although one has to be an optimist...
USA: Seven Touches of Music (2006), Steps through the Mist (2007) and Impossible Encounters (2008) — all Aio Publishing editions.
UK: Impossible Stories (2006), Twelve Collections and the Teashop (2006), The Bridge (2007), The Writer / The Book / The Reader (2008) and Impossible Stories 2 (2008) — all PS Publishing editions.
Germany: Hidden Camera (2008, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag)
Portugal: The Book (2006, Cavalo de Ferro)
Denmark: The Library (2006, Tiderne Skifter)
Greece: The Book (2006, Kedros)
Turkey: The Library (2006) and Time Gifts (2006) - both Istiklal editions.
Slovenia: The Fourth Circle (2006, Blodnjak)
South Korea: The Fourth Circle (2006), Time Gifts (2007) and The Writer (2007) - all Munidang editions.
Bulgaria: Impossible Stories (2007, Infodar)
The list, of course, is not concluded. I expect to add to it a few more countries/editions before the end of the year...
Everyone should check out Seven Touches of Music, and the others.
I started my "Polaris" adventure back in 1982 — out of spite, you might say. At that time Yugoslavia still had a communist regime, although in many ways it was positive, unlike the Eastern Bloc countries. I worked in a state-owned publishing house—there were no privately owned ones yet—editing the SF series "Centaur."
One of the new titles I proposed that year, as part of my editorial job, was the forthcoming Arthur C. Clarke's 2010: Odyssey Two, the long-awaited sequel to the famous 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was accepted by the editorial board, all right, but I was told that it could come out only in about a year and a half.
Being much younger at that time, I was also proportionally more impatient. A year and a half seemed like an eternity. Why wait that long when it could be done in a mere three months? With some luck, we might even have had it out before the original English language edition.
Other members of the editorial board remained unimpressed by my arguments and impatience. I was so frustrated by their indifference that I decided to do something revolutionary. I would bring it out myself! And quite legally, by the way.
There was a hole in the law. I couldn't found a privately-owned publishing house, but I could publish "an artistic work" of my own, as it was formally defined. It referred primarily to writers' own prose work, but also included translations.
Working frantically, I translated 2010 in 29 days. It took another month and a half to publish the book. It was quite an achievement, considering that all happened in the pre-computer era, with typewriters and printing facilities just slightly more sophisticated than Gutenberg's.
By local standards, 2010 was a spectacular success. Thanks to Clarke's enormous popularity, but also, to some minor extent, to a certain aura created around the first independent edition in a communist country, more than five thousand copies were sold in advance and twice that many after the book appeared.
I had no idea that it was only the beginning. But then I started to get literally hundreds of letters (there were no emails yet) in which my former subscribers urged me (even threatened me!) to continue. And so I did. About six months later the second "Polaris" book came out — Isaac Asimov's Foundation's Edge.
The rest is history.
In the next 18 years I published nearly 150 titles, mostly by classical American, British and European authors. "Polaris" became the longest SF series in this part of the world. I added two more series to my programs: "Rune" (fantasy) and "Sphinx" (popular science). The absolute best-seller in all three categories was, surprisingly enough, not an SF or fantasy work, but Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time.
"Polaris'" days of prosperity ended in 1991 when the former Yugoslavia disintegrated in a civil war. It was inevitable that my publishing atelier would suffer in a greatly diminished market with a suddenly impoverished population. During the 1990s the "Polaris" average print-run dropped to only 500 copies, but only rarely did I manage to sell more than 250.
In 2001, when I decided that the time had come to cancel "Polaris", it was partly due to these unfortunate circumstances, but also because I wanted to devote my time to writing. I had already entered my fifties and wasn't vigorous enough any more to run a parallel slalom: to be a publisher and an author at the same time. I had to sacrifice one of them and I decided that there were no more challenges for me in the publishing business. In the art of writing, however, there were still a few goals to achieve...
If you happen to wonder about the last book that appeared in "Polaris," here is the answer: Jeff VanderMeer's Dradin in Love.