Eleven years ago, the craziest idea was suggested to me. Any sane person would have said “no” but somehow, I said “yes.”
My life was going really, really good — I’d achieved a long-held dream and purchased my own office building. This wasn’t any office building, either. It was a 1926 two story Tudor-style mini-mansion next to City Hall on the main street of Upland, California. I spent months refurbishing to its original glory. The steep slate roof, the wavy glass multi-paned windows, the fireplace in the library, the hardwood floors. We moved our marketing firm into the building and planned a party to end all parties to show it off and celebrate.
As I unpacked boxes on my desk, I cradled the phone in my neck, talking with the COO of Stephens Media who asked me to come to Las Vegas the very next day for an “important” talk about the book business. Reluctantly, I agreed.
Somehow, someway, 24-hours later, I had agreed to start a book publishing company for the parent company of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. IN Las Vegas. I figured I’d give them a year, commuting, and then I’d likely be sick to death of Sin City, driving or flying back and forth, and the extra demands on my time. Still, publishing books somehow seemed a higher calling than advertising and I did have experience producing books.
I didn’t give them a year. I gave them eleven. Eleven good years publishing books of which I’m inordinately proud of and meeting smart, fascinating, and insightful people, many becoming treasured friends. I found I loved working with journalists and living in the desert. I bought a house (a great investment, it seemed at the time). I still “commuted” back and forth and my Hubby-Honey was able to spend a lot of time in Vegas with me, as well. But we joked, when people asked how we’d been married 45 years, that our secret was living in different states!
In those same eleven years, the book (and newspaper) business changed dramatically. With the advent of e-books, POD (print on demand) books, and so-called self-publishing, the floodgates of new books being published each year increased literally ten-fold. Meanwhile, the number of buyers/readers didn’t really grow at all. Thus the number of copies of any one title purchased was greatly reduced, making printed books a risky venture indeed.
To complicate matters, three-and-a-half years ago, I was diagnosed with leukemia. Multiple extremely long hospitalizations, chemo and radiation treatments, and a stem cell transplant followed. It has been a challenging journey and impacted my work at Stephens Press.
Given current circumstances, Stephens Media has determined Stephens Press will cease publishing activities in 2013. We are in the process of notifying authors and corporate/institutional sponsors, making arrangements for inventory, and an orderly transition of copyright and publication rights back to authors. We are also completing projects that were in our pipeline, including the Nevada 150 Sesquicentennial book that will be out early next year.
It was, like I said, an unlikely choice for me to create Stephens Press from the ground up, but also one of the very best decisions I ever made. I have absolutely no regrets and am filled with gratitude and appreciation to the management of Stephens Media, and most especially the creative vision of Mike Ferguson (now CEO of Stephens Media).
I will be staying in the book biz in ways known and yet undecided. My best friend and partner in all things books, as well as the best sister one could ever hope for, Sue Campbell, will be working to help authors navigate the waters to become “self-publishers.” We’ll also be working on independent custom book projects. Many know that what we do best are magnificent pictorial “coffee table” type books and we’ll continue to work on those as well.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep writing … and reading!