After nearly two decades of helping would-be parents adopt children, Mardie Caldwell decided to put her knowledge into a book, which she titled But it was only after she found out about the realities of life as an author that she decided to become not just a writer, but a publisher as well.

"I had two publishers interested in the book, but I found out I was only going to make a buck a book at most," Caldwell said. Figuring she could earn more and exercise better control over the packaging and marketing of her book herself, Caldwell started her own publishing company, American Carriage House Publishing. The company, based in Nevada City, Calif., is off to a great start, having won the PW Rising Star Award for 2005. The honor, part of the PMA's Ben Franklin Awards, is given to the publisher of the best first book of the year.

Caldwell said the company will stay small, publishing about three books a year, but will expand beyond adoption books. Already in the pipeline are a children's book and a Portuguese cookbook.

Since she received the award earlier this month, two distributors have offered to represent American Carriage House, and Caldwell has heard from two New York producers who want to feature her as an expert on adoption. Said Caldwell, "The award has really opened up so many avenues for us."