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## Ronda Rich’s Journey Through the Evolving Publishing Landscape: From the Golden Age to Small Presses

In the vibrant literary landscape of New York City in the late 1990s, a new star was about to emerge. Ronda Rich, a talented writer with a knack for capturing the essence of Southern culture, was poised to make her mark in the publishing world. This was the golden age of New York publishing, a time of excitement and anticipation, where bidding wars between editors were commonplace and authors were treated like celebrities.

Ronda Rich’s debut book, “What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should),” became the talk of the town. Four major publishers engaged in a fierce auction for the rights to her manuscript, a testament to the buzz surrounding her work. The bidding reached a fever pitch when her agent, in a strategic move, called for “best offers on the table before sundown” due to the impending start of Yom Kippur. The result was a significant six-figure bid from Putnam, securing the hardcover, paper, and audio rights.

With Putnam’s backing, Ronda Rich’s career took off like a rocket. The publishing house invested heavily in promoting her book, resulting in its meteoric rise to bestseller status. This triumph paved the way for her subsequent books, all of which were either auctioned or preempted with substantial advances. Each project was meticulously supported by a dedicated team of editors, publicists, and marketing experts. Book tours spanned multiple cities, with generous expense accounts and remarkable national media coverage. From CNN and Fox to the New York Times, People magazine, and The View, Ronda Rich’s voice resonated across the country. Local media attention was equally impressive, featuring reviews, television appearances, and radio interviews.

Beyond her publishing endeavors, Ronda Rich expanded her horizons into syndication, distributing a weekly newspaper column that showcased entertaining stories about the South and its unique culture. Her writing prowess and engaging storytelling style led to frequent speaking engagements and occasional television appearances. She collaborated with Fox Sports on documentaries related to her critically acclaimed book about her NASCAR days. Additionally, she participated in an HBO documentary about her stepmother-in-law, Mary Tyler Moore, where she coined the phrase “feminine feminist,” a term that originated in her first book.

As the publishing landscape began to shift, Ronda Rich made a bold decision to self-publish two books of columns. This choice stemmed from her desire to retain control over her work and avoid surrendering the rights to her 1,200 columns. Through self-publishing, she cultivated a devoted fan base of nearly a million readers, proving that her storytelling magic continued to captivate audiences.

In 2024, Ronda Rich embarked on a new chapter in her publishing journey with Mercer University Press, a small press based in Macon, Georgia. Her book, “St. Simons Island—A Stella Bankwell Mystery,” marked the beginning of a series of Stella Bankwell mysteries. This partnership presented a stark contrast to her experiences with major publishers. The publishing process required her to take on new responsibilities, such as writing copy for the book jacket and online booksellers.

Despite the challenges of working with a small press, Ronda Rich acknowledges the crucial role of social media in leveling the playing field. She and her husband, a prominent television producer, leverage their celebrity friends and influencers to promote her book. While tour stops, such as the Southern Festival of Books, are self-funded, Ronda Rich finds solace in the passion and enthusiasm of the Mercer team.

Reflecting on her diverse publishing journey, Ronda Rich expresses her appreciation for publishers of all sizes, recognizing their collective contribution to bringing her words to life. She lauds Mercer University Press for its diverse and bold catalog, its willingness to take chances on overlooked authors, and its familial atmosphere. Although advances are modest, the team’s dedication and enthusiasm make it an attractive proposition.

Ronda Rich’s sole disappointment with Mercer University Press is its lack of audiobook production capabilities. As a skilled narrator, she holds the rights to her audiobooks, having captivated listeners with her Southern drawl. She remains hopeful that another company will recognize the potential of her Stella Bankwell series in audio format.

Ronda Rich’s journey through the evolving publishing landscape is a testament to her resilience, adaptability, and unwavering commitment to storytelling. From the golden age of New York publishing to the world of small presses, she has navigated the changing tides with grace and determination. Her story is an inspiration to aspiring authors, reminding them that success can be found in both traditional and unconventional paths.