By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIME – “Declare me innocentis the title of a book made up of eight stories of love, violence, sex, poverty and the typical frustrations of men in Cuban society.
Although the book won a prize in a literary contest, it may never be published in Cuba, given my status as a little-known author and the clear elements of dirty realism that can be found in his pages.
However, on October 12,“I declare innocentwas published by Primegenios Publishers, a publishing house that is a literary bridge for any writer on the island who wants to see their work published.
This publisher was created in 2019 by poet, author and publisher Eduardo Rene Casanova Ealo, who has lived in Miami since 1999. According to him, the idea of founding this publishing house came during a trip to Cuba.
“If I hadn’t gone one day to pay homage to my deceased loved ones who rest in the cemetery of my birthplace, Quemado de Guines, I would not have come across the director of the Renacimiento cultural and cinema center, who is also a builder and mending a grave that day. One of those surprises that the Universe gives you by chance. It was he who invited me to go to a book reading held in this center.
“That evening we recited poems and talked about many things, including books, and someone asked me if the editing was difficult to do. In a fit of shamelessness I offered to publish any book they wanted with my publishing house which didn’t even exist, it didn’t have a name and I had no idea how i could create one.
But once on the plane on the way back, I reflected and went over the images of what I had seen… A few days later, the publishing house existed…”
So far, Primigenios has published more than 400 books in the genres of narrative, poetry, children’s literature, scientific literature, theater and testimony. Its catalog includes not only Cuban writers, but also foreign ones.
Despite using the self-publishing system on Amazon, the publishing house stands out for its quality and editing, judging by the presence of works that have already won awards and big names in the Cuban and Latin American literary landscape.
One of the things it facilitates for Cuban writers is the fact that editing, proofreading, design and publishing services are not charged to Cuban writers living in Cuba, if approved by the assessment of the board of editors. Instead, this sum is deducted from subsequent sales.
All other writers receive an estimate of the amount they must pay, an amount that must be paid to publishers before their book is published.
This is a great advantage for Cubans on the island, considering that the book market has undergone detrimental changes in recent years, especially for authors.
Apart from a few publishers who pre-pay famous writers, the vast majority would not risk publishing a book without charging a fee up front.
For example, “I declare innocent” had been approved by a Spanish publisher at the end of 2020, offering me an editorial co-production contract for its publication. In other words: I had to buy 100 copies of my book and then I would be entitled to 90% royalties on the sales. The 100 copies would cost just over 600 euros. A fortune for me. “Goodbye, goodbye,” I told them.
But I understand it was a reasonable offer. How to invest thousands of euros in a product as little requested as books? Reggaeton, reality TV, alcohol, pornography… these are the popular markets.
For this and other reasons, Primigenios has won a special place in the hearts of Cuban writers, most of whom, the founder says, “having books hidden in a drawer for years. Talented people who are the fruit of a populist system whose institutions are insufficient to cover all of their expectations, especially when it comes to publishing their work.
Thank you Primigenios for saving part of Cuba’s literary heritage! Even if this profession of writing and living from literature is an inexhaustible source of illusions and disenchantment.
Learn more about Pedro Pablo Morejon here.