Blue Heron Publishing glides easily into the digital era of book production after
a period of functioning as a prepress vendor.
WHILE MANY book publishers might cringe at the idea of bringing prepress in-house, Blue Heron Publishing, Hillsboro, OR, has based its own digital success upon its experience as a part-time prepress shop. What started out as a plan
designed to generate some additional revenue has helped the small book publisher tackle the challenges of manufacturing.
Out of the nest
Blue Heron Publishing was conceived more than 14 years ago when former freelance author Dennis Stovall joined forces with a fellow writer to become a leading authority on the publishing and allied graphics fields in the Northwest United States region.
"I had no background in publishing," acknowledges Stovall with a slight chuckle. "But I did have a sense of the publishing process. … I began to do some serious studying at that point."
With Blue Heron's premier publication—The Writer's Northwest Handbook—Blue Heron became a major source for regionally specific literary information. Following the success of the partners' first publication, they soon branched out with a supplement comprising a tabloid-style newsletter. Four years ago, both the newsletter and the rights to the handbook were sold to another publishing house but before the deal was sealed, circulation had reached landmark numbers for the small publisher—75,000 qualified subscribers in the Northwest alone.
The success of Blue Heron's early publications prompted Stovall to branch out a bit personally. Suddenly, deeply engrossed in publishing, Stovall found that the direction in which he would like to take the company had changed a bit. His wife, Linny Stovall, took the place of Stovall's former partner, and the company soon began to act as both a publishing resource center and first-time author subsidiary firm.
While the company is small by most standards—five on payroll has been Stovall's largest staff to date—its market is quite large. Blue Heron currently publishes between four and six titles each year, ranging from writing tutorial publications to teaching guides, to adult and young-adult literature (most of Blue Heron's authors have strong ties to the Northwest).