Yesterday we lost a great publisher, but more importantly we lost a remarkable man.
Matthew worked with us for 18 years, and was always, in every way, a larger than life character. He had that big outgoing personality, that loud cheerful laugh and that huge gap-toothed grin that arrived when he saw you coming. And if that grin wasn’t there, you knew it would be there soon enough. As a publisher, he knew a good book whenever he read one and he knew who would like it. He knew how to sell it and he almost always figured out how to make a few bucks along the way. His secret was that he didn’t think it was a good book, he believed it was a good book. He didn’t think we could sell it, he knew we could sell it. And once he believed in a book and in the person who wrote it, he poured his whole self into convincing everyone that they simply had to have it.
As a man, Matthew fought his long cancer battle without a single sign of self-pity. For the last three years, every other Thursday, he endured chemotherapy. He dealt with the effects over the weekend and was back at work, his usual self on Monday. Almost none of us knew. He never wavered. He always put us before himself and there was never a dip in his determination to do the right thing. Every day he emptied himself into his work and into sharing his joy in it. In facing his greatest challenge, Matthew showed enormous courage and dignity- we should all be more like him.
We have been flooded over the last few days with an enormous outpouring of love for Matthew from every corner of the publishing world. And with that affection came the many stories. Yes he dressed as a dwarf. Yes he appeared as a prostitute. The man would do anything to sell a book. But here is one simple tale to describe the very core of Matthew Shear:
A young woman sits in a hotel lobby at a romance writers convention. She wants desperately to be a writer. Unwilling to leave her infant at home, she sits with a very loud and agitated baby, her confidence frayed and feeling that everyone is bothered by her and her child. A burly man walks up, pats her shoulder and with a big grin says simply “what a cute baby!”.
When a great publisher passes, it is customary to offer a list of authors he worked with. For Matthew it was about all the authors large and small, and about all the people. It was about the small things he did every day for everyone. All of us here have our memories of that moment he discovered how to make our day brighter. “What a cute baby”.
Thank you to everyone for the outpouring of sympathy, prayers and good wishes for us and for our beloved publisher.
But mostly, thank you Matthew for giving us so much of yourself. That is the good stuff and we will miss it so terribly.