Karla: I have to check in the mirror each morning to see which hat I’m wearing. One day I’m writing, and the next day I’m trying not to squirt coffee out my nose while reading a story from one of our contributors.
Lin: One thing I noticed is that, although there are quite a few sweet and/or surrealistic pieces in what we think of as the "canon" of Valentine, a great many stories were from two viewpoints: women defying the stereotypes that Vday urges on their relationships, and men terrified that if they don't get the right present or do the right thing they'll end up sleeping alone and unconsummated in a Toyota. This goes beyond cheap laughs (hey, ten bucks for a book is cheap these days) into sociological significance. Since I'm not a sociologist, I have no idea what it signifies, but it's major, see?
Karla: With forty writers, odds are good that there is some socially redeeming value mixed in with all the hilarity.
Why did you choose humor as the topic of your imprint?
Karla: I talked to several agents when shopping my own humor book, and got the same response: “This is hilarious, but you have to be a nationally syndicated humor columnist before a publisher will take it on.” It seemed outrageous that traditional publishers would turn their back on a whole genre. I skipped over self-pity and went straight to stubborn. If fresh humor was going to get into the hands of readers, some idiot(s) would have to champion the cause. “Some idiot,” by the way, is my job title.
Karla: Besides, Christmas, Armistice Day, and Purim were already taken.
Lin: Not really. I knew Karla's name and had seen her work on a humor webzine called The Flying Trapezezine, but our decision to do this together came out of a discussion about publishing on a writing forum. We were talking about publishing and I think I came up with the question of, "Why don't we do it?" And Karla was the only one who stepped up and said, "Yeah, lets."
Was it difficult for two independent writers like you to work together?
Karla: My first marriage should have gone so well. What I most appreciate is the mutual respect. We’re both good listeners when there’s a disagreement.
How are sales going for My Funny Valentine?
Karla: Marketing an “event” book leaves very little time for a learning curve. We’re pleased with the numbers, but there’s so much more we can take from this for future projects.
Lin: Definitely. Humor anthologies are our entire focus, though we might get into single-writer collections once we figure out what we're doing. Our plans at the moment are to issue a call for contributors on March 1 and produce at least three more titles in 2012.
Writers interested in receiving calls, or humor fans who want to know when new books are available, can sign up for notices at http://myfunnybooks.biz/mail
The topic of our next book isn't yet carved into stone. (eBooks and POD make all that carving unnecessary.) We've rejected "My Funny Prostate Operation", "My Funny Rotten Junkie Teenager", "My Funny Post-Partum Suicide Attempt" and "My Funny Expense Account Cheating", but will come up with something as equally fabulous, we promise.
Lin: Yes: quit clowning around and get serious. Seriously, I think there is a strength in association and mutual support. You see this in the networks of humor bloggers out there. And--surprise, surprise—you’ll want to pursue anthologies like ours, McSweeney's, Chicken Soup. Three of our contributors were offered assignments from publications on the strength of their inclusion in My Funny Valentine. Take every opportunity to get your name out there.
Karla: Humor is so subjective. If you’re a new writer, don’t be discouraged by rejections. We’ve had to turn down some very funny pieces because they didn’t fit with the overall style of the book, or it was a subject that was already well covered. If you stick with it and you’re lucky, your book may grace the backs of millions of toilet seats around the country. See you all at the next humor conference: John Con II.