On Beyond the Niche: From Aquariums to Mainstream Markets

June 2007
by Stacy Nyikos

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On Beyond the Niche: From
Aquariums to Mainstream Markets


by Stacy Nyikos


Stonehorse Publishing is a
small independent press in Tulsa, OK. It began after I devised a clever way—or
what I thought was a clever way—to persuade a large publisher to buy my picture
books about sea animals, which have two pages of fun facts at the back. My plan
was to help the books sell by pairing each one with an aquatic venue. The venue
would get a portion of the publisher’s revenues in exchange for featuring the
book for a year.


One problem: I could not get a
single big house interested in the approach. Although large publishers do
sometimes team up with zoos, aquariums, or other nontraditional venues, they
were concerned that the aquatic venues would want to own these titles or that
dealing with those venues would be too much trouble.


Consequently, I decided to open my
own publishing house in the fall of 2004. I found a talented illustrator, Shawn
Sisneros, who had graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago but was local and
willing to help with the nontraditional marketing strategies that I had
planned: signings and events at the aquarium, including a free
author/illustrator half-day visit, and a citywide drawing contest with the
aquarium for local schools.

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