Sourcebooks: Driving Change in the Publishing World
Everyone knows the legendary story of how Steve Jobs started Apple Computers in a garage, but many people don’t realize that publishing often has the same humble beginnings and can grow into an equally strong powerhouse. Such is the background of Sourcebooks, which started in a spare bedroom but has helped transform publishing from its print-only roots into the digital landscape, paving the way for hundreds of authors along the way.
Where It All Began
In 1987, Dominique Raccah founded Sourcebooks out of the spare bedroom of her house in Naperville, Illinois. “We started out publishing only nonfiction; that genre was really the heart and soul of the company for the first 10 to 15 years,” says Sourcebooks Editor Anna Michels. The company started with books geared toward professional finance and then branched out, publishing bestsellers like The Small Business Survival Guide and 500 Beauty Solutions. Over the next 10 years, Sourcebooks became one of the fastest-growing publishers in America, making numerous lists of “on the rise” publishing firms.
Today, Sourcebooks is one of the most dynamic forces in publishing, releasing innovative mixed-media pieces such as We Interrupt This Broadcast by Joe Garner, fiction like Tony Parsons’s Man and Boy, 2000’s British Book of the Year, and children’s books such as Poetry Speaks to Children, a New York Times bestseller that helped launch Sourcebooks’ entire children’s department.
Finding a Publisher That Cares
Since the company’s inception, Sourcebooks has gained a reputation for the intimacy it cultivates when working with authors. “For us, it’s all about the storytelling,” says Michels. “When we sign an author, we’re not thinking, ‘Okay, so here’s this one book that they’re going to do.’ We always want to think about their career and how we can work with them to make being an author something that they can do for the next 10 years, not just for one book.”
While Sourcebooks has become a haven for authors looking to make their debuts, the firm has also become a source for more accomplished authors to find a personal relationship with a publisher that they won’t get with other firms. “I could not be happier,” says author Randall Silvis, who first joined Sourcebooks for the release of his novel Two Days Gone. “They have treated me so much better than any publisher ever has. I’ve worked with the big five as well as tons of smaller publishers, and Sourcebooks has just been so generous in their support, and it’s really made such a huge difference.” Silvis’s next collaboration with Sourcebooks, Walking the Bones, is slated for release in January 2018.
For many authors, the level of communication between Sourcebooks and its writers is an experience all its own. “I was able to go in and meet with my editor in person, with publicity, with the librarian associate, people who actually sell my book, the people who design the covers, it was just such an awesome experience,” says Denise Swanson, author of the Scumble River Mystery Series. “It’s something that’s never been offered to me before. I feel like they really listen to me, they’re just organized so well. Working with them is experiencing what you think publishing is going to be like before you’re actually published.” Swanson’s upcoming book, Dead in the Water, is slated for a September release.
Recently, Sourcebooks was named by Publishers Weekly as the tenth-largest publisher in the industry. When asked about where the company hopes to be over the next decade, the answer looks back on the firm’s roots as it looks ahead.
“What we’re all really interested in here at Sourcebooks is figuring out what the publisher of the future looks like,” Michels says. “Obviously, our industry has gone through an incredible amount of change in the past 10 years, and it continues to face different challenges and opportunities as the market changes. Our biggest consideration is getting books into the hands of readers, however they want to read. Be it books or e-books, we just always want to make sure we’re publishing the best books possible.”
In an industry that’s ever-changing, Sourcebooks continues to evolve with it, always putting the reader first. “One of our company’s taglines is, ‘We believe books change lives.’ We want to publish the books that will be changing people’s lives now, and 10 years from now,” Michels says.