Starting Over: The Truths Disaster Teaches

August 2001
by Randall Williams, NewSouth Books

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Sometime in April of this year, NewSouth Books-the publishing house my partner Suzanne La Rosa and I own and run-passed its first anniversary. Over the course of those 12 months, we bought and renovated a historic building in downtown Montgomery, Alabama; recruited a staff; installed a short-run printing operation; opened a specialty bookstore; signed up commission sales reps; and published about 20 books.

“Not bad for a start-up and a staff of five and a half,” many people say. And we would agree with that, except that we are more a start-over than a start-up.

Shortly before opening our new company, we had been unceremoniously fired from Black Belt Publishing, where I was Founder and Editor-in-Chief and Suzanne was Publisher. It’s a long, complicated story (they always are), and it isn’t over (litigation is pending).

The point was that in December 1999, Black Belt (named for the Black Belt region of Alabama) and I had been honored with a reception by the Governor of our state for a decade of independent publishing. Then, in February 2000, I was ousted from my own company by investors; Suzanne, who sided with me, was also let go.

Over the course of my life, I’ve been a farmer, pulpwooder, factory worker, journalist, civil rights activist, private detective, newspaper and magazine publisher, and, finally, book editor-designer-publisher. Of these, book publishing is by far the best and worst endeavor I’ve ever experienced. The financial rewards-if y…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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