Birth of a Saleswoman

April 2006
by Marsha Portnoy

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During my dozen or so years
as an editor of Whetstone,
a journal of fiction and poetry, I learned firsthand that small-press
publishing is not an enterprise for the faint of heart. Although my co-editors
and I had garnered an armful of awards for our little lit-mag, our marketing
budget was embarrassingly slim, and we’d find ourselves peddling each new issue
on little more than a shoeshine and a smile.


That’s why it does my heart good
whenever I have the chance to report a small-press success story like that of
Sharon Shea Bossard, president of Shea Publications and author of Finding My Irish.
When she hired me last spring to edit the manuscript, she said the job was a
rush. The books had to be ready for an upcoming Irish festival in Milwaukee.
She had also reserved space at other Irish fests later that summer and fall.
Family and friends had encouraged Bossard to write the book, but she wondered
how interested anyone outside that circle would be in the story of one family.
She’d planned a first printing of 500, figuring she could easily store a few
hundred unsold books in her basement.


Modest expectations, to be sure,
but inside of six months—between mid-July and Christmas—she had managed to sell
two-thirds of a press run of 1,000 (her husband had urged the larger order).
And at the beginning of March, she ordered a second printing of 2,000. …IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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