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A Rose Blooming in Publishing

Interview with publisher Naomi Rose

by Dave Newhouse, Oakland Tribune,

Dec. 15, 2010

A ROSE IS A ROSE is Naomi Rose, a courageous woman who's seeking to blossom as an independent book publisher in the age of the Internet.


With book sales dropping and book stores closing, this Rose of Oakland is one entrepreneur, who hopes for a book that will pay her office overhead. Her first release by Rose Press is Healing Civilization by Claudio Naranjo, which blends perfectly with her plan to publish books that deal with healing.

"Do I think of myself as courageous?" she said. "I don't feel that way very often. Periodically, I say, 'What have I got myself into?' It seems so difficult and expensive. Some people were wonderful, some people were not wonderful.

"There are so many pieces to it. But it's the inspirational part of publishing that keeps me going. I keep re-inspiring myself."

Naomi Rose was born Naomi Rose Berton in New York City, and now is married to Ralph Dranow, a journalist and poet who works with potential biographers and memoirists.

Rose's parents were writers, so she majored in English literature at City College of New York before earning a masters in her major at the University of Connecticut . But it all seemed so preordained.

"I was sort of in a drifting stage," she said. "I was feeling like I had one foot in the real world."

So she took a job in UConn's school of business before drifting out to California with her first husband. She then found employment at a Berkeley editing cooperative, Editcetera, working as a freelance editor.

"I liked editing; I didn't love it," she said. "But anything you keep doing, you become good at, so I became pretty good at it over 25 years."

And, importantly, the seeds were planted for what she's doing now, only there would be more drifting.

"Something was missing," she said. "The books I was given, I began to feel that what wasn't there was the being of the writer — I wasn't getting their true voice. There has to be more than this."

Then came a midlife crisis, Rose freely admits, when she decided to become a therapist. After enrolling at John F. Kennedy University in Orinda , she quickly dropped the therapist notion but held onto the meditative aspects and body movement.

"How to find what's in you," she explained, "and how to bring it out."

After two years at JFK, she transformed this healing process into book form. She conducted workshops, helping students "write from the deeper self." She evolved into a "book developer" and had some of her students' works published. She also self-published her own writings.

She divorced her first husband — they had a son, now grown — and married Dranow in 2002.

Rose met Naranjo, a Chilean and a pioneer in the human potential movement. He e-mailed her a year ago that he had written Healing Civilization, that it had been translated, and could she edit the manuscript. She edited it heavily, in fact, then asked Naranjo if she could publish it. Three months later, he agreed. 

"There was a huge learning curve for me," she said, "because the territory I knew was everything up to having a completed manuscript. I heard that writing a book is 5 percent of it; getting it out there is the other 95 percent."

But in publishing books that heal, Rose healed herself, finding something substantive, at last, to end her drifting.

"I don't know that I ever looked at that concept that way, but I'd have to say yes, actually," she said.


This Rose dreams of being a publishing late-bloomer.


To find out more about the book Healing Civilization, click here.

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