Steve Scholl is the founder of White Cloud Press in Ashland, OR.
H: When White Cloud was founded in 1993 did you know you wanted to publish in the genre of spiritual inspiration?
S: Originally I wanted to publish books on world religions that were somewhat academic-but not too academic. We started White Cloud in Santa Cruz, but the cost of living was so high we decided to relocate to Ashland.
H: During your presentation in Edwin Battistella’s History of Publishing class you mentioned that Paul Grilley, the author of Yin Yoga, was especially involved with the marketing of the book. Do you work with many authors who understand the importance of entrepreneurship?
S: Yes, authors with a mission and a concept of entrepreneurship are what we look for. There are lots of talented and capable marketing-saavy authors out there with a good message to give the world. We have been lucky enough to work with strong writers who are very active.
H: What is the typical production run of a publication at White Cloud?
S: Usually a minimum of 2,000 and a maximum of 5,000. We hope to sell around 3,000 copies for a book to be successful. It isn’t wise to overprint, plus it’s easy to reprint if the demand is there.
H: What are the most successful books White Cloud has published?
H: How many employees are there at White Cloud?
S: Around four or five full-time employees.
H: Does White Cloud publish ebooks?
S: Yes. We publish for the iPad, Kindle, Nook, etc…
H: Have you done much writing or have you always wanted to be on the publishing end of the business?
S: I’ve done a fair amount of writing, but not too much. I’ve published academic papers for magazines such as “The Encyclopedia of Religion” and the Flagship Paper for the United Church of Christ. I’ve also written book reviews for the Oregonian.
H: Has the rise of self-publishing impacted small presses like White Cloud?
S: Yes, somewhat. However, people who don’t use the services of a publisher and editor tend to appear amateur. I think experienced writers can pull off self-publishing because they have a background in the business. Everyone needs an editor though, even editors need editors. I feel fairly secure in our business. We strive to produce books that look like they are out of New York and to help our authors. You can’t get that from self-publishing.
H: Were you in the publishing field before White Cloud?
S: I bailed out of academics because I saw there weren’t many jobs and I went on to work for a small publisher and gained some experience before starting White Cloud.
H: Do you turn away a lot more book proposals than you take on?
S: Yes, definitely. We get around 20 proposals a month and generally publish six books a year. We would like to publish around nine or ten. I would estimate that 60%-70% of the books we publish are by authors who approached us. The rest are by authors we sought out.
H: What is your favorite and least favorite aspect of the business?
S: My favorite part is finding great new material and helping authors share their work. My least favorite part of the business is the business part, the economics, etc…
H: What is you dream book to publish?
S: There isn’t a specific author and I know we can’t take an a-list author away from Random House, but I would love to find an author with a great idea and put him or her on the New York best seller list.
H: Do you have any advice for people who want to enter the publishing business?
S: Go for it. There are jobs out there, you just need to find out which aspect of publishing you’re interested in. Also, take classes in marketing and copy editing. Skills with InDesign and other programs will be very helpful too. Become fluent in social networking! This is key these days.