Macomb County woman becomes publishing powerhouse

Rebecca J. Ensign Photo 1How does a book get to the number one spot on Amazon’s best sellers list? Some might say its luck, but local publisher, Rebecca Ensign, knows better. In 1999, she helped James Talmadge Stevens clinch that top position with “Making the Best of Basics.” Through careful planning and strategic promotions, they achieved something not many individuals do. Now she’s willing to share the secret to that success through her new venture, a Warren-based content strategy and marketing services provider called Ensignia. The company, which Ensign started in 2014, focuses on the creation, development, preparation, formatting, packaging and dissemination of various types of content for all mediums and purposes. For instance, Ensign will write copy for new websites or craft scripts for corporate videos. Essentially, she’ll give businesses the boost they need by applying her expert communications skills. A craft she’s honed through her many years in the field.

A natural talent

When Ensign graduated college with a degree in political science and philosophy, her father questioned what she would do to make money. But Ensign knew her passion was writing and she pursued that as a freelancer. At 21, she got her first paid job writing for Michael Moore at The Flint Voice, an underground, alternative newspaper. She drafted press releases and announcements, cutting her teeth in the profession with an individual who would one day become a major voice in national media.

Eventually, Ensign needed a change of scenery and she tapped into Ann Arbor. It was here that she met a publishing headhunter who identified her “natural talent” for his industry. He changed her professional trajectory and got her job offers from some of the east coast’s most prominent publishing houses. Ensign was most intrigued by a Boston-based startup that specialized in college textbooks and after accepting a position there, she found herself immersed in the world of manuscripts and writers. A few weeks in, she discovered an innate ability to see what books would work and what wouldn’t. She was also adept at forming strong relationships with her authors, a key component for ensuring a positive publishing experience. These characteristics helped Ensign rise through the ranks at her company and she became its east coast manager at age 27. But after several years with this title, she started thinking about pursuing something on her own.

A leap of faith

Ensign made that life-changing decision after reading two proposed textbooks by two university professors. She had a gut-feeling that the books would do well outside of traditional collegiate circulation, so she convinced the authors to publish their work with GLP logo for Home page July 2018a new, independent firm that she was going to start. With just $200 dollars in her pocket, she left her impressive job and steady paycheck to open Gold Leaf Press back home in a downtown Mount Clemens basement office. It was a leap of faith with some uncertainty involved, but Ensign had been entrusted with getting her clients’ books off the ground so she had to get right to work finding a printing partner and developing a strategic cadence for production. Her plan – only print as many books as you need. Then, after you sell those, print more. It was a simple strategy, but it paid off. Both authors’ books found success with Ensign’s new company, with one even making its way to Pope John Paul II and the storied Vatican library.  Eventually word began to spread about “the girl in the basement” and in matter of months she had a sizable client list that included corporations and Detroit News columnist Pete Waldmeir. But no matter how many books were on her plate, she took the time to work closely with each individual writer, getting to know them on a personal level. Because for Ensign, chemistry with an author is an essential part of the publishing process.

Hitting the big time
Ensign got her big break five years later when one of her client’s books clinched the number one spot on the Amazon best sellers list. But as previously mentioned, there was a bit more to the story than just luck. According to Ensign, it’s all about market timing and she knew that if she found the right opportunity at the right moment, she could hit it big. In 1997, that came in the form of a congressional hearing broadcast on CSPAN. The Y2K phenomenon was approaching and government leaders were planning for a massive disaster brought on by the potential malfunction of computers around the world. These types of discussions certainly irked the public and many began stockpiling supplies for what was called the end of the world. Ensign saw through the panic and sensed an opportunity. She found an expert in family preparedness and secured the rights to collaboratively publish his book “Making the Best of Basics.” In January 1999, at the height of millennium madness, the book hit number one on Amazon. So as you can see, this was no coincidence. It was all by Ensign’s design.

Sterlingfest 2018 RE-AJIn the years following this success, Ensign kept busy publishing more than 150 books. Business was good, however, the industry was starting to become chaotic. A break was in order, so in 2014, she stepped back from Gold Leaf Press. During this period, she dove into studying new trends and technology in communications. And when she was ready, she hit the reset button and formed her current content strategy and marketing venture, Ensignia. The company houses Gold Leaf Press, so Ensign is still publishing. But now she’s offering clients additional services, with content creation at the core. Also key to her business – working closely with every individual that becomes a client. She wants them to have a great experience publishing a book, crafting a blog or editing a manuscript. Of course, this all makes sense. Building these types of relationships was the cornerstone of Ensign’s career in Boston and at Gold Leaf Press. By continuing these efforts, she will no doubt experience a similar level of success.

A special opportunity
Those moved by Ensign’s story and interested in her secret to success will be thrilled to learn of a special opportunity hosted by the communications expert. On Friday, October 5, Ensign will hold a free seminar called “The Secrets & Strategies of the Best-Sellers and Top Google Search Rankers.” Alongside co-host Russ Cuthrell of Spyder Byte Media, she will teach attendees how to get the most out of websites, social media, digital marketing, advertising and PR efforts. Notably, for aspiring and published authors, the seminar includes two very interesting bonus features:

  • Bonus Feature #1: The 5 Critical Elements every #1 Amazon Best-seller Must Have
  • Bonus Feature #2: From Idea to Manuscript and Manuscript to Published Book

Space for the seminar is limited, so Ensign is asking for advanced registration here. My recommendation – don’t wait to reserve a seat at the event. There aren’t many publishers and communications experts out there willing to share their secrets for free. So sign up now and perhaps one day, you can be an Amazon best seller too.

For more information on Rebecca Ensign, Ensignia and Gold Leaf Press, visit https://www.goldleafpress.com/.

**Ensignia is a client of the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development. Working with MCPED, they have access to services like assistance with marketing, financial analysis and planning, strategic planning, management and operations. To learn how our services can help your business to grow, visit http://www.MacombBusiness.com or call 586-469-5285. You can also reach Jack Johns at jack.johns@macombgov.org.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

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