“Wings ePress, founded in 2001, is a true pioneer of electronic book publishing. It was one of the first dedicated ebook publishers, intent on delivering a quality product to an emerging industry.”
In August 2001, four women met at the Scottsman Inn in Wichita, Kansas. Bruce and Linda Voth were managing the inn at the time and they set aside rooms for Lorraine Stephens, Beverly (BJ) Haynes and Pat Casey. The four were part of a writers’ colony and chat called Romance Foretold. A large group of writers had contacted Lorraine, who was the executive editor of their author colony, requesting that she create a publishing company that would allow them to sell their books.
The four came together with skills that complemented each other. Lorraine had worked as an editor for a major newspaper in Oklahoma City and understood editing, copyediting and formatting. BJ’s skills involved marketing and so she was open to many of the emerging possibilities available on the net. Pat, though not interested in being an ‘owner’ of the company, had computer knowledge, knew about web pages and possessed internet skills. Linda brought business acumen to the group. Marilyn Kapp could not attend the meeting in Kansas, but since she worked in finance and accounting for a major firm, she understood what it would take to make a new company fiscally responsible.
In four days, Thursday through Sunday, they created Wings ePress, Inc. Lorraine was adamant that the company would only publish books that were of the highest quality in content, and she offered advice on creating a working editorial department. BJ spent all of her time searching the net to discover what it would take to promote our books and authors on the net. Pat offered web page samples that could be used to best showcase authors and their books, and Linda offered her organizational skills to coordinate the group. Marilyn established a royalty formula that would benefit the authors and would be acceptable to vendors. It turned out to be a very productive weekend.
One of the biggest challenges Wings was going to face was how to get their books into print. Ebooks were just emerging and no one was sure they would offer any long-term benefits, so the focus was placed on ways to offer a print option. In the early days at Wings, an ebook sale involved a customer ordering from the Wings site and receiving a pdf version of the book. If other vendors offered Wings’ ebooks, they would get a CD with a pdf and a Rocket Ebook Reader version of the title.
Finding an online printer was a major hurdle to overcome. The printers that offered their services on the net were expensive and had no distribution options to offer. Those printers that were available to established publishers weren’t cost effective nor were they willing to offer the same distribution options to small publishers they offered to the large, standard publishers. BJ found some unaffordable options and after some fast research, she and Linda settled on something called an ‘Instabook Maker’ so Wings could print their own books. Linda purchased the equipment needed and set up a print shop in the machine shed on her farm in Newton, Kansas thirty miles from the hotel in Wichita. PawPrints POD was born. The Instabook Maker couldn’t keep up with orders after the first year and Linda purchased printers, binders and cutters for her business. For twelve years, Paw Prints POD printed books for seven to ten online publishers until Linda closed her doors because of health issues and new technology that made printers like CreateSpace and Amazon Print so readily available to authors and publishers at a reasonable cost.
Lorraine and Linda provided the seed money to fund the startup for Wings ePress, Inc. It was paid back within a few years. Lorraine was the face of Wings ePress from 2001 to 2007 when poor health forced her to step down. She passed away in 2008. BJ established Wings’ presence on the net and worked with Wings for two years. Wings ePress was releasing ten titles per month, and making fast marketing changes wasn’t easy to do, so BJ left Wings in 2003 and established a new online publishing company, Whiskey Creek Press. Pat, the faithful web mistress, stayed with Wings, providing amazing web pages and contacts until she retired at the end of 2015. Marilyn handled all of our bookkeeping needs and took over the editing department when Lorraine retired in 2007.
Wings ePress slowly reduced the number of books offered to the public. In 2016, Marilyn’s role was limited to author order fulfillment. Her daughter, Johnnene, took over the bookkeeping department. A long-time editor for Wings, Jeanne Smith, took up the role of executive editor and Michael Embry, an author with a successful marketing history, took on the marketing aspect of Wings. Linda continues to manage the company while dealing with distribution and website maintenance. BJ Haynes and Jewel Adams rejoined Wings in 2015 as consultants to help focus on a new marketing model. After two years, they left and returned to pursue individual projects.
From the beginning of Wings ePress, authors have been the company’s focus. For years, Wings ePress was run as an extension of a prime author colony of General Fiction and Romance. The emphasis on quality of writing sustained it for many years and is still the main focus, with marketing services added to assist the authors with sales.
Continuing to offer authors a reliable publishing “home” is a source of ongoing resolve for the staff of Wings ePress. As ease of self-publishing has been enhanced by online companies, Wings takes pride in extending excellent editing and cover creation for authors as part of its service. Our staff works closely with each individual author with whom we contract to provide a final product worthy of his or her expectations and Wings’ high standards of performance.