North Star Press helps potential authors bring their stories to life

Many times a compelling idea for a book gets locked up in our mind and rarely gets a chance to escape because of the uncertainty of which path to take.

North Star Press of St. Cloud Inc. has been assisting potential authors in finding the road to success for nearly a half century.

“We have had many people contact us that are confused and frustrated because they have no idea what to do with their idea for a story or their completed work,” said Corinne Dwyer, the owner and senior editor of North Star Press. “We take them through the process step by step and answer any questions they might have.”

One of the first questions a potential author generally asks, Dwyer said, is how much will it cost to have their book published.

“It’s hard to give them a definite answer to that right away,” she explained. “It’s like going to a contractor and telling them you want them to build you a house and then asking them how much it will cost. There is a lot that goes into it, and every book, just like every house, is different.”

But Dwyer, business manager Curtis Weinrich and editor Anne Rasset utilize their talents to guide the author through the entire process, making sure the finished product is something the author is both satisfied with and proud of.

“We’re very thorough before giving quotes,” said Weinrich. “There are not too many surprises. We’re all inclusive with the authors. They have the final say.”

Curtis Weinrich and Corinne Dwyer pictured with some of their published books. Photos by Scott Thoma

Curtis Weinrich and Corinne Dwyer pictured with some of their published books. Photos by Scott Thoma

“We might make suggestions to them along the way, like why a certain font might be better, why a paragraph might be better if it’s written a different way, something with the cover design, the size of the book, or even something on the marketing end,” said Dwyer. “We don’t push them, though, and they don’t have to agree with our suggestions because they have the final say. Most times, though, the author will agree with us.”

North Star Press publishes around 20 royalty titles per year, and helps 20-25 self-publishers realize their dream of publishing a book.

“I’ve had three books published with North Star Press,” said Jeanne Cooney, referring to her Hot Dish Heaven Mystery trilogy published in 2013, 2104 and 2016. “They focus on publishing Midwest authors and/or Midwest subjects. They give the new or novice writers an opportunity that you wouldn’t get with a major publisher.”

North Star Press began in 1969 with Corinne’s in-laws, John and Rita Dwyer.  John was the business manager at St. John’s Liturgical Press for 30 years, and together with Rita they built up a solid reputation for North Star as a publisher of award-winning Minnesota non-fiction. Corinne joined the company in 1976 as a paste-up artist, a position that no longer exists due to technological changes.

“There have been more technological changes in publishing since I started in 1976 than in all the preceding 550 years since the Guttenburg Bible,” joked Corinne.

When John died in 1986, Rita and Corinne ran the business until Corinne bought it outright in 2000.

After 40 years in publishing, she has no plans to retire.

“Books are my passion,” said Corinne Dwyer, who has also written several books and also has illustrated books for authors. “I love this job every day. And every book brings something new and exciting. It’s rewarding for us to see someone’s book come to fruition. This has been my world for over 40 years, and this is a world I’m happy with.”

While Dwyer and Rasset are busy editing and/or formatting the books, Weinrich is working the marketing end of the business.

Weinrich packs books in the warehouse to be shipped. Photos by Scott Thoma

Weinrich packs books in the warehouse to be shipped. Photos by Scott Thoma

“I started out shipping part time in 2012 and became the business manager in 2014,” said Weinrich, who is Dwyer’s son-in-law. “Now I do almost everything here other than editing and formatting. It’s a big challenge and very rewarding.”

And the staff does a thorough job from the beginning to the end of the process of putting a book together because they know how important that body of work is to the author and how much time they put into it.

“We take a lot of pride in our work,” said Weinrich. “We try to treat everyone the same and every book with the same importance, whether it’s a royalty book or a self-published book. We publish all kinds of books such, as fiction, nonfiction, children’s, poetry, mysteries and cozies.”

This small publishing company is nestled in a rustic country environment engulfed in thick trees 14 miles south of St. Cloud. The serene location is the perfect setting for an editor to cozy up to a new book and peruse it for errors or changes that might make it a better product.

“The most important factor is that we’ve been doing this a long time, and we make good books,” said Dwyer. “We know how to edit, design and format a book so that it reaches the right audience of readers.”

Dwyer edits a manuscript. Photos by Scott Thoma

Dwyer edits a manuscript. Photos by Scott Thoma

And no type of book is off limits to Dwyer and her staff.

“I’ve edited everything from children’s books with 400 words to highly sophisticated journals from English professors,” she said, proudly.

And authors understand and appreciate learning how their book is put together.

“They did a great job with my cover design,” said Cooney. “And they work well with the big distributors and handle all my orders. I think by working with them you really learn the business. And that makes it so much easier if you are writing another book.”

More recently, self-publishing has become increasingly popular as evidenced by more and more retail outlets now selling those types of books in their stores.

North Star Press has also seen an increase in authors who elect to go the self-publishing route in which they have more control of the inventory, book signings, presentations, costs, advertising and much more.

“We treat self-publishers the same as we treat our royalty authors,” said Weinrich. “We take the time to make all their books as professional as possible.”

And those authors who choose the self-publishing route come away with a better understanding of how a book goes from an idea in their head to a book on a store shelf.

“I had a very positive experience with North Star Press,” said Mary Czech, whose self-published book Like a Rock came out in November. “Corinne was very accommodating with any changes I wanted to make. If I had a question about something, she always called me right back. I was extremely impressed with that.”

Some self-publishing authors might select their own proofreader, but Dwyer is still careful to check it over.

“I always check the entire project over,” she insisted. “I’ve found a lot of errors that some proofreaders didn’t catch. Just because it’s self-published doesn’t mean I will let it go through with errors in it. I want it to leave here a quality project so the author is happy with it.”

Some of these self-publishing enthusiasts are elderly individuals who want to preserve their history through writing for family members and friends.

“Not everyone who wants their book published is in it for the money,” said Dwyer. “We get a lot of people who just want a few books to give away that might tell about their life.”

But Dwyer is careful to edit these family history books so they sound as though they are told by the author and not by someone else.

Curtis Weinrich and Corinne Dwyer look over some of the books published by North Star Press. The press has been publishing books for nearly 50 years. Photo by Scott Thoma

Curtis Weinrich and Corinne Dwyer look over some of the books published by North Star Press. The press has been publishing books for nearly 50 years. Photo by Scott Thoma

“We had a 95-year-old woman publish a story about her life for her family,” Dwyer said. “I feel like it needed to read like it’s grandma’s voice that is telling the story. I’ve screwed up if it doesn’t sound like grandma.”

Small-sized publishing companies have struggled in recent times due to the increased popularity of social media. But North Star Press has been forging ahead with a solid reputation as its engine and the energetic work by Dwyer and her staff behind the wheel.

“I’m a supporter of small publishing companies like North Star Press,” concluded Cooney. “They do a lot of positive things for authors that otherwise wouldn’t get a chance to have their book published.

For more information, call North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc., at 320-558-9062 or visit the website at www.northstarpress.com.