Eight years after founding Amber Communications, Tony Rose and his wife, Yvonne, have used an opportunistic publishing philosophy to build an independent publishing house specializing in a mix of African-American self-help and celebrity bios. The couple launched the company in 1998 with a single title, their own how-to book Is Modeling for You? The Handbook and Guide for the Young Aspiring Black Model; it's sold more than 80,000 copies. Since then the Phoenix publisher has released more than 55 titles through its six imprints.
Tony Rose moved into publishing after a career in the music industry. He said Amber's mission is to publish useful books about everyday living in the African-American community. Amber doesn't follow a traditional publishing schedule—the house releases books to coincide with conventions and book festivals like BookExpo America and the Harlem Book Fair and focuses its promotions on the African-American news media. Amber produced a 30-second commercial that will run on black cable stations like TV One and the Black Family Channel. The average print run is 5,000. Amber employs nine full-time staffers, including four sales reps, and has eight commissioned sales reps.
"We sell our titles lots of ways," said Rose. "We do licensing; we work with wholesalers, distributors, street vendors and libraries; and we sell direct from our Web site." Amber has also published six titles on personal finance and beauty through a copublishing partnership with John Wiley.
Titles coming in 2007 include Black Out: The African AmericanGuide to Successfully Stepping Outside of the Corporate Career Job Boxby Michelle Johnson and It All Starts at Home: 100 Ways to Put Our African American Families First by Dr. Larry C. Harris. Amber's celebrity biography imprint Colossus Books will publish Dr. Dre in the Studio: From Compton, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, The Game and Mad Moneyby Jake Brown.
Rose's goal is to sustain Amber's growth while keeping it small enough to connect directly with its customers. "African-American publishing," Rose said, "is now a profitable business."