About the Press

Mission

Pleasure Boat Studio: A Literary Press is dedicated to enriching the world with eye-opening stories and poetry by talented authors who write with heart, originality, and love of language.

How we got our name

…from Pleasure Boat Studio, an essay written by Ouyang Xiu, Song Dynasty poet, essayist, and scholar, on the twelfth day of the twelfth month in the renwu year (January 25, 1043):

“I have heard of men of antiquity who fled from the world to distant rivers and lakes and refused to their dying day to return. They must have found some source of pleasure there. If one is not anxious for profit, even at the risk of danger, or is not convicted of a crime and forced to embark; rather, if one has a favorable breeze and gentle seas and is able to rest comfortably on a pillow and mat, sailing several hundred miles in a single day, then is boat travel not enjoyable? Of course, I have no time for such diversions. But since ‘pleasure boat’ is the designation of boats used for such pastimes, I have now adopted it as the name of my studio. Is there anything wrong with that?”

Translated by Ronald Egan

History

Our press started in 1996 by Bill Slaughter and Jack Estes. Bill stepped aside three years later to focus his attention on Mudlark, the electronic journal of poetry and poetics. Jack continued with the press, moving it in 2002 from its initial home on Bainbridge Island, Washington, to the Upper West Side, NY. 

In 2006, with the publication of Homicide My Own, we started a new imprint – Caravel Mystery Books – specifically for mysteries. That same year, with the publication of Speak to the Mountain: The Tommie Waites Story, we started another imprint – Aequitas Books – for non-fiction.

The following year, Mike O’Connor and some of his colleagues in Port Townsend, Washington, decided to resuscitate a dormant Empty Bowl Press, so they asked if Pleasure Boat Studio could help in some way. As a result, Empty Bowl was considered a Division of Pleasure Boat Studio. Empty Bowl is entirely independent now, but we still promote each other’s new work, along with occasional joint book readings.

There are several people who work to keep Pleasure Boat Studios afloat on the greatly respected reputation Jack Estes built through his high standards of authors and books, and his excellent work editing, publishing and PR. Jack loved this work, the press, and especially the authors, which he always says is the best part. Jack still edits new work and advises me, offering suggestions for all of my questions or informing me of opportunities and resources available. Pleasure Boat Studio is grateful to him and his invaluable input.

When Jack Estes wanted to retire, I was sorry to hear this. I had designed covers for him now and again for a few years and rather enjoyed it. I would miss it, and working with him, and worried about what would become of all of these amazing authors and their books. He asked if I would be interested in taking over the press, and after much deliberation, I thought I could test it out for a year and see. He taught me a lot over that year, and I was able to publish my first couple of books under his guidance. He had 12 manuscripts to choose from. I knew I really wanted to publish The Fabrications by Baret Magarian and then Isaac by Robert Karmon. I couldn’t see either of these not getting out into the world. They needed to be. I decided yes, to taking over the press, despite the financial risk, because it was rewarding, cool work, and more interesting than alternatives I could take. How could I say no to this incredible gift and opportunity? I am still publishing authors who would have come to Jack, and gladly so, as he attracts exceptional writers. I am humbled and grateful. It has been a pleasure to work with all of them. They are all very intelligent, talented, kind, considerate, interesting, gracious, people. Sometimes their emails are too long, but I’ll take it!

Thanks to all of Jack’s past help, and to so many more who have helped keep this press alive since I’ve been on board. Jeff Welker, my husband, is a creative writer I plan to publish someday, but in the meantime has been editing between Jack’s rounds. My friend Nancy Seewald, a once journalist in NY, had recently done a fine job helping to edit an upcoming book, Twilight in Danzig by Siegfried Kra. Hopefully she will continue to work with the press in the future. Ken Bodensteiner was a great help in volunteering to rebuild the website, making it stylish and user friendly. He has those needed and appreciated tech skills. While publishing, I am still designing the books, for the most part, as well as any marketing materials. In the future, PBS hopes to add a children’s book imprint, within the next couple of years. I hope to attract the caliber of writers that Jack has, and would also like to include some comedic writers, and short story writers. PBS has contracts for the next 2 years, and most likely will not be taking any more submissions. Unless, it’s out of this world and you can fund the project!

We like quirky books, non-traditional books and unusual books. And we really like authors who will WORK to sell their books.