Helen Rosburg is the president/CEO and editor-in-chief of Medallion Press. The Keeners launches the house's hardcover Platinum line.
PW: How's it going at Medallion?
Helen Rosburg: We're growing the company at a correct rate.
PW: That sounds in between too slow and too fast.
HR: Exactly. You don't want to overburden yourself so that you get into financial straits, and you want to grow where you can, to avoid stagnation. It's a very delicate balancing act, and Leslie [Burbank, v-p of Medallion] and I walk that tightrope every day, making decisions that take us forward.
PW: What is the key to success in knowing when and how to grow?
HR: It's a combination of things. You need a quality product at a reasonable price, and you advertise. To get quality product, of course, we search for the best manuscripts.
PW: How do you get the best manuscripts?
HR: We're awash in submissions. The word is out about Medallion. We're now publishing multipublished authors—authors who want to write in a new genre, for instance.
PW: How was the level of the company raised so you got these submissions?
HR: Advertising and word of mouth. One of the things that we wanted to do differently was to be author friendly, and the word has spread through the author grapevine. We have a first-time author who's already being headhunted by a major publisher. But he says that no major publisher would treat him as well as we do.
PW: What does "author friendly" mean?
HR: We have an author liaison who keeps in contact with our authors about where their books are in the process. If the books are not close to being in the process, we touch base with them anyway, just to let them know that their time is coming. We address author problems, we give our authors constant information on ways they can promote themselves.
PW: Medallion is making a very big step in moving from mass market paperback into hardcover. Why?
HR: Because we have manuscripts that merit it. Hardcover will demand a little more, a little different advertising from us. But it's a hardcover, it's going to do things by itself. People think of a hardcover differently than they do a mass market.
PW: Why did you choose to publish The Keeners?
HR: Leslie and I believe in signs and omens. We believe there are no coincidences. There is an author who has about 10 nonfiction books. She had this novel, the book of her heart, and she hadn't submitted it yet—she was afraid to let it get out of her hands, and then she read about us in PW. And she said, "Medallion is the company for me." At the time, we had this giant slush pile, so we were in a room, going over manuscripts. And this manuscript kept getting passed from one person to another: "This is heavy"; "I don't know how to classify this." We have two piles—the "Read or reject," which means send for the full manuscript or reject; and "Rescue or reject." She went into the Rescue pile. Then I read it. The reason I be wanted to become an author and, ultimately, a publisher, was because of books that I read when I was younger, books that impacted me emotionally, that were beautifully written, that made me aspire to the wonderfulness of a great book. And when I read The Keeners, I was impacted that way.
PW: Where are you headed with all this? Do you want to keep it small?
HR: I want to continue growing until I know that Leslie and I can't handle it any more. Then we'll have to think of other ways to grow—rather than growing bigger, just be content with growing better.