I posed in the garden of the Lido house with Giovanni and Gerardo, my new publishers, while RJ clicked the camera to capture the moment. Yesterday, the last day of the year, I reached a very long-held dream. I signed a contract with a publisher to publish my book! Seductive Venice is my third book, and I’ve self-published all of them, until now.
I came to Venice with a stack of books to place in the bookstores here, like I did with my first book Free Gondola Ride. But first I met with Giovanni DiStefano, owner of Supernova Edizione, a Venetian publisher specializing in poetry as well as books on the history of Venice. I had contacted him by email last month, after seeing a book they publish and contacting its author. In Venice and the Veneto with Lord Byron by Gregory Dowling is part of a series of walking guides based on famous authors who lived and worked in Venice. I thought that Seductive Venice, a guide to Casanova’s Venice, would fit right in. Giovanni thought so too.
I first met with him a couple days ago at Libreria Emiliana, his colleague’s bookstore near Campo San Luca. Surrounded by tomes old and new, we went over the terms of a book deal. I’ll make next to nothing on this, but I was already resigned to that. For me, the best thing is having representation in Venice and Italy, where the book will be most popular and where it’s most difficult for me to do business on my own. Finally, finally someone will represent me and distribute my book! Finally, finally someone believes in it enough to put up the money to print it and sell it. Then Giovanni and I bonded over Baron Corvo, an eccentric British writer who died in Venice while living in his boat. Later a found in a bookstore a copy of Corvo’s Venetian letters, which Giovanni hadn’t known was available.
So yesterday RJ and I rode the vaporetto on a clear, cold December 31 to the Lido and found Giovanni’s house and office, a gorgeous old three story building that looks almost like it has a turret on top. The railing is decorated with black wrought iron butterflies and bugs created by a famous artist that Giovanni now no longer remembers the name of. We sat in his little office, surrounded by Supernova’s books, like The Gondolier’s Cookbook or the history of the Campanile. Giovanni also gave me a tiny graphic novel they publish, which features two Casanova tales—the debauch at the Alle Spade inn and the party at the Murano convent.
Giovanni was mostly all business. We checked and signed the contract, then RJ handed him the USB drive with the book files on it. With his glasses perched on his nose and his hand on the mouse, Giovanni lost himself in editing—changing the fonts, taking out my publishing info and adding his, and then dropping in the map files. He’d print a page and ask if we liked the font or spacing or border changes he made, and we agreed to go with his title, Casanova’s Venice: A Walking Guide. After a couple hours of this, and coffee delivered by his 8-year-old niece, and the arrival of his publishing partner Gerardo, he looked at us and said, “Well, there is nothing more to say.”
But this didn’t feel like a dismissal. Giovanni clearly likes books and wants to create quality ones. He knows his way around numerous computer programs and has a good eye for details. I trust him to do right by me and my book, and I know enough about publishing to not expect to control all the details. I told him, “I enjoyed watching you work on this. I see that you pay attention to the details.”
“I like to make books,” he replied simply. “It is what I do.”