|| ABOUT PUBLISHER BRUCE
Let me introduce myself and my publishing
company. I'm Bruce Bortz. Beginning in 1992, and most intensively
since 1995, I've been publisher of Bancroft Press. In your
industry-related readings, you've undoubtedly come across
us. PW called Bancroft "small but enterprising."
Book marketing guru John Kremer first placed us in his top
101 independent book publishers starting back in 1998, and
we've remained there ever since. Liz Smith, the world's foremost
entertainment columnist, wrote favorably of three of our books,
and dubbed us an "up and coming" publisher. We were
profiled in "Today's Librarian" - the first such
publisher featured through an extensive Q&A.
Since 1992, Bancroft has published 18 new titles.
At least four of them have sold more than 10,000 copies. Authors
have included such big names as:
- Bill O'Reilly, who anchors the #1 news program on cable
TV today, and whose September 2000 book ("The O'Reilly
Factor") became, almost instantly, a #1 New York Times
bestseller for hardcover non-fiction;
- Acclaimed and best-selling novelist Stephen Hunter, whose
movie reviews twice have brought him within an eyelash of
the Pulitzer, and whose Bancroft book about the movies landed
him one of the most influential movie reviewing posts in
the country (The Washington Post);
- Pulitzer Prize-winner Alice Steinbach, whose first book
- with us - propelled her to a two-book contract with Random
- Robert Kanigel, one of the very best writers in the U.S.,
a fact that was recognized in 1998, when he was voted the
author of the year by the Association of Journalists and
- Mike Walker, the National Enquirer's best-known journalist;
- Sandi Kahn Shelton, the humor columnist for Working Mother
Bancroft books have received critical attention usually reserved
only for large publishers, having been regularly reviewed
in the finest and most exclusive venues, such as Kirkus, PW,
LJ, SLJ, the NYT, amazon.com, barnes and noble.com, the Washington
Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Los Angeles Times, the
Baltimore Sun, USA Today, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, etc.,
We have consummated 21 deals and counting for ancillary rights
to Bancroft books, including seven book club deals, four paperback
deals, three audio deals, two sales of excerpts (both to Reader's
Digest), two movie options, and three foreign publisher sales.
On average, that's more than one ancillary deal per book.
We have successfully launched or advanced the literary careers
of at least ten of our authors. At least six of them have
gone on to successfully publish with large New York houses.
We have achieved special success in a very difficult field
to enter - Young Adult fiction. Our first entry, Jonathon
Scott Fuqua's "The Reappearance of Sam Webber,"
won the following awards and honors: The Alex Award; New York
Public Library's 2000 Books for the Teen Age List; The American
Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression - one of two novels
in print (adult or YA) to best deal with the issue of violence
and youth; School Library Journal's one of the top five Adult
novels for young adults in 1999; and Booklist's Editors' choice
'99 for Adult Books for Young Adults (14 novels in all). Published
as a paperback, with massive publicity, by Candlewick Press
in April 2001, Fuqua's brilliantly written, multi-award-winning
story of an 11-year-old whose father inexplicably abandons
his family looks as if it'll become a classic along the lines
of "To Kill A Mockingbird."
Like Fuqua's "Sam Webber," our second entry into
YA fiction, Matthew Olshan's "Finn: A Novel," has
been selected by the BOMC/Teen People Book Club. In addition,
it has won a rare blurb from the nation's premier YA librarian,
has hauled in testimonials from two National Book Award finalists,
received a starred review from Booklist, was made the subject
of a C-Span "About Books" broadcast (extremely rare
for a book of fiction), and been nominated for a Michael L.
Printz Award. In sum, this March 2001 title has attracted
more prestigious pre-pub praise than any of our other, earlier
Several of our books have been quite significant, too. For
example, while "Live by the Sword" was probably
the 1200th book published on the Kennedy assassination, it
was the first to make full use of the millions of pages of
documents declassified by the federal government after Oliver
Stone's movie "JFK." It also was called definitive
by Kirkus, received a rave review from the New York Times,
merited selection by both the BOMC and the History Book Club
(a rarity), and is optioned to Showtime for a three-part miniseries
slated for production sometime next year.
Our football book, Jon Morgan's "Glory for Sale,"
was called one of the few breakthrough sports books of the
1990s, and made widely known to the public and to policy-makers
the importance of new stadiums to NFL franchises and their
Our entry into parenting, Sandi Shelton's "You Might
as Well Laugh," made the top ten book list put together
by the Wall Street Journal's work and family columnist Sue
Shellenbarger. (Sandi went on to a two-book deal with St.
Our humorous look at the world of complaining, John Homan's
"Wilber Winkle Has A Complaint," drew reviews or
feature stories from newspapers all over the country, and
even produced a full-scale Washington Post editorial.
Our first investment book, Susan Laubach's effectively innovative
"The Whole Kitt & Caboodle," has been called
the best basic book on investing by the National Association
of Investment Clubs, by best-selling investment writer Ric
Edelman, and by the National Council on Economic Education.
(It is now headed to its third printing and its first audio
Jonetta Rose Barras's "Last of the Black Emperors,"
which was a lead review of the Washington Post, figured prominently
in Marion Barry's decision not to run for re-election in 1998.
It also led to Jonetta's star turn on a "60 Minutes"
segment, and to an extremely successful book with Ballantine/One
Because of its importance, Bancroft has also delved into
the how-to/medical/health/self-help genre with what has come
to be regarded as a breakthrough book - Jim Lynch's "A
Cry Unheard: New Insights into the Medical Consequences of
Loneliness," which was a July 2000 follow-up to his surprise
bestseller, "The Broken Heart," published 23 years
earlier by Martin Kessler and Basic Books.
Even our trashy Hollywood novel, Mike Walker's "Malicious
Intent," made waves. It was called "the most salacious
novel published in 1999."
To bring them to fruition, I acquired and negotiated all
18 book contracts, edited all 18 books, oversaw the design
of all 18 books, marketed all 18 books (including presentations
of every title to a distributor's large and questioning sales
force), and publicized all 18 books. I have also exhibited
nearly all 18 at BEA.
Having become intimately familiar with the nuances of a book
contract, and its negotiation, I have come to know various
New York agents and New York publishing houses, taking full
advantage of the law degree I earned in 1978, and my several
subsequent years as a practicing lawyer.
And I've had to become aggressive in virtually every phase
of publishing. Not one of those 20 ancillary deals I mentioned
earlier, for instance, came to me. I had to find and consummate
each such deal.
I also had to coach many a first-time author through the
writing process. Jonetta Rose Barras, for example, unreservedly
refers to me as her best editor in a long and successful writing
career. Bill O'Reilly believes deeply in me as a judge of
books, and greatly trusts my editing skills.
I've also applied my writing, publishing, and editing skills
to ghostwrite three books, and to substantially rewrite a
For the various reasons I identified above, people in New
York publishing houses have come to know Bancroft Press. Indeed,
it's the rare Bancroft book that hasn't been validated by
one of the big houses in some way -- a testimonial few small
publishers can claim.
Much to their surprise, we've excelled in so many different
and unexpected genres, even in our first attempt: narrative
history with Gus Russo's Kennedy book; humor with Sandi Shelton's
"You Might as Well Laugh" and "Wilber Winkle
Has A Complaint;" mainstream fiction with Bill O'Reilly
and Mike Walker; and literary fiction with Scott Fuqua's "The
Reappearance of Sam Webber," at a time when few, if any,
small publishers even attempt fiction because of the odds
of competing successfully against the output of the large
In the process of paying my publishing dues several times
over, I believe I have gained the one intangible that may
be the most important qualification of any book editor --
the ability to find and shape good books (I haven't published
a bad one yet), to position them properly in the marketplace,
and to predict their success.
I have a deep passion for books. I have a restless, inquisitive
mind. I'm a hard-worker.
I'm aggressive. I'm a calculated risk-taker. And I attained
all this success
- in Baltimore (hardly the book capital of the world),
- while working with very little capital,
- in an impossibly challenging field as a general interest
- and lacking big media clout.