About Us

The Brandylane Experience

Brandylane offers what most publishers do not: an accessible publishing house where author and publisher work cooperatively for success. It is this spirit of partnership that has made Brandylane so appealing to new and established writers for three decades.

Since its founding, Brandylane’s mission has been to help previously unpublished and talented writers and poets break into print. As a veteran teacher of English, creative writing, journalism, literature, and cultural mythology for more than twenty-five years, publisher Robert Pruett’s love of teaching and working with writers has merged into his passion for publishing, and he continues to nurture new and professional authors. His own experience as a published poet and essayist gives him a sensitive understanding of the writing and publishing process, and he has assembled a team that shares his love for crafting and publishing quality books.

In 2010, Brandylane launched Belle Isle Books,  a new imprint of Brandylane created to offer cooperative publishing, self-publishing services, publishing guidance, and book packaging, including editing, interior and cover design, and printing to budding writers. Both Brandylane and Belle Isle Books continue to exercise a commitment to quality, customer service, and helping authors tell their stories.

Our History

In 1985, Robert Pruett moved to Lancaster County in Virginia’s Northern Neck with his family and began renovating a small farm near the Chesapeake Bay. Soon after, an elderly gentleman stopped by the farm with an interesting story. He said that if they searched, they could find an old still in the back woods. Apparently, the previous owner was known for the best peach brandy in Virginia. His spirits were so highly favored that several Virginia governors were among his most frequent clients.

The still was never found, but Brandylane Farm and Brandylane Publishers were. Robert continued his teaching career, worked as a freelance writer, and in 1989 began publishing Pleasant Living, a folksy literary and general interest magazine for Virginia’s River Country and the Chesapeake Bay. Although they are now separate companies, in the early days, Brandylane and Pleasant Living evolved together in White Stone, Virginia, a small town near the mouth of Virginia’s Rappahannock River. From 1988 to 1998, the businesses operated first in the converted balcony of an old movie theatre, then in a nearby office building next door to the local pharmacy. In 1999, Robert opened a second office in Richmond’s historic Shockoe Bottom.

In late August 2004, Brandylane was one of many victims of the Hurricane Gaston flood that devastated Richmond’s Shockoe area, and lost ninety percent of our book inventory under four feet of water. For three to four years after, we were in slow recovery, rebuilding our own title list as well as packaging new titles for other publishers and individual authors. Our offices are now located in a Victorian house on First Street in Richmond’s Monroe District, between Main and Cary Streets, just east of Virginia Commonwealth University, and we are publishing 20 to 30 titles annually.

Brandylane continues to evolve and change, as independent presses must in order to survive in a publishing world dominated by conglomerates and chains. Through it all, our authors have been our greatest assets, and we’ve been rewarded by helping them find audiences and delight readers.

Who We Are

Robert Pruett, President and Publisher, has published hundreds of books in diverse genres for regional and national markets since founding Brandylane in 1985. He is a published essayist and poet and holds a M.A. in English and interdisciplinary humanities from Virginia Commonwealth University. He and his wife, Tanya, live in Richmond.

 

 

 

 

Grace Ball, Administration/PR Asst. and Project Manager, was born and raised in Roanoke, Virginia. She received a B.A. in English literature from the University of Virginia in 2015, and began working for Brandylane the same year. She lives in Richmond, Virginia.

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Hardison, Designer, graduated from James Madison University in 2001, with a degree in sociology. After discovering his passion for design post-college, Michael began taking courses to learn more about the design field. He later served as creative director for a local magazine for three years, and received his graphic design certification from the California Institute of the Arts. Michael joined the Brandylane team in early 2017, fresh off his appearance and win on “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

 

 

 

 

TomPhoto-2Tom Trenz, Designer at Brandylane since 2003, has been a leader in the Richmond, Virginia, advertising community since the 1990s, where he created award-winning advertising campaigns and television productions for local and national accounts. Originally from New York and a graduate of the University of Kentucky, Tom lives with his wife, Amy, and two daughters near the James River in Richmond.

 

 

 

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Tamurlaine Melby, Editor and Project Manager, has been editing, copyediting, proofreading, and otherwise assisting in the production of books for Brandylane since 2009. She holds a B.A. from the College of William and Mary and lives in Richmond.

 

 

 

 

Brooke Matherly, Project Manager, earned a B.A. in English from James Madison University in 2014, after which she spent two years traveling the United States and the world. Brooke primarily works with first-time authors to help them navigate the production process and bring their books to the market.

 

 

 

 

Haley Simpkiss, Project Manager, started with Brandylane Publishers, Inc. as an intern in January 2017, and has since expanded her knowledge of book marketing and promotion. A native of Northern Virginia, Haley graduated from the New Hampshire Institute of Art in 2014 with a BFA in creative writing. She now lives in Richmond.

 

 

 

 

 

Christina Kann, Assistant Publicist/Admin and Project Manager, graduated from Old Dominion University in 2014 with a degree in English linguistics. Christina spends 90% of her time outside the office reading or writing books. She worked as a freelance editor before joining Brandylane in January of 2017.

 

 

 

 


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Tanya Pruett, Project Manager and Publicist, has been providing promotional services, project management, author support, and editing at Brandylane since 2006. Tanya attended Oberlin College, lived abroad in Ireland and Japan, and ultimately graduated from Bluefield College in 2007. With more than twenty years’ management experience in human services, human resources, and international education, Tanya has a passion for promoting our authors and a particular fondness for children’s books that teach tolerance and understanding. She lives in Richmond with her husband, Robert.

 

 

Harpst PhotoGSErin Harpst, Publisher’s Assistant/Asst. Editor, was born and grew up in Virginia’s Tidewater region. She received a B.A. with Honors in English literature from Yale University in 2010 and holds a certificate from the Columbia Publishing Course.  She joined the Brandylane staff in 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

Marie Stephens, Office Manager/Accountant, is a magician with the numbers and has been with Brandylane in our Kilmarnock, Virginia, office since 1993. She lives in Irvington, Virginia.

 

 

 

 

 

Nikki Clemons

Nikki Clemons, Asst. Publicist, graduated from Virginia Tech in 2015, with a B.A. in English. She currently lives in Richmond, Virginia, and joined Brandylane in 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

Annie Tobey, Senior Editor, holds a B.A. in English from the University of Richmond, where she also earned secondary teaching certificates in English, speech, and drama. She published her first book in 1990, For Any Young Mother Who Lives in a Shoe, and has published numerous articles in local and national periodicals. She lives in Richmond.