Books: Ever wonder how a best-seller is born?

As New York’s publishing conglomerates continue to grow and morph into unwieldy behemoths, Doug Seibold, President of Evanston-based Agate Publishing, has spent the last two decades quietly building a lean and profitable company, unlocking resources primarily owned by Black and Midwestern authors are often overlooked in the big houses.

Jane, George, Marla and Doug Seibold celebrate 20 years in publishing at a recent event held at the Peckish Pig. Recognition: Evan Girard

Nestled between print shops and ceramic studios in the tree-lined arts district, Agate Publishing occupies a nondescript store at 1328 Greenleaf St. and seems to have found its sweet spot by any measure.

The company, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in October, had annual sales of $4 million last year, employs 24 people and boasts a published roster of Pulitzer, National Book, Caldecott and Newbery authors – received awards.

Seibold said that Agate started with an idea, a laptop and a cell phone in his 400-square-foot basement in the ’90s. After working as a writer and editor for various newspapers, magazines and publishers for almost a decade, his vision began to take shape.

“I had developed this idea of ​​what it takes to make a small publisher work, not to grow to compete with Random House or similar companies, but to become sustainable on a small scale.” Seibold said he never aspired to to reach an “enormous, world-devouring greatness”.

Introduced in 2002, Agate started with one imprint or mark and now includes five. Areas of focus include Black American Authors, Food and Cooking, Education and Training, Business Coaching and Management, and Midwestern Issues and Authors. Bolden, the masthead devoted exclusively to black writers, was the company’s first.

Also Read :  3 reasons Alabama football fans shouldn't be worried about star QB's injury

Years earlier, working at a Black-run publishing company, Seibold said he observed that major publishers were beginning to take notice of Black writers, but their attention was mostly focused on writers who had recently emigrated from Caribbean or African blacks Writers whose families had settled here for generations continued to go largely unnoticed.

“I felt like they were getting the shortest end of the stick,” Seibold said. “It meant there was all kinds of talent that wasn’t getting the same opportunities because of this ongoing publisher bias. I figured that meant I could find better writers in this community than in other communities.” It was a gamble that paid off.