Recap of November 2021 Event: Building a Great List: Art, Science, or Both?

This lively panel discussion focused on list building and acquisitions. Three Minnesota-based publishing professionals gave us a peek behind the curtain into how their companies decide what to publish. The panel explored the role data plays in publishers’ strategies, answering questions like: Is data king, or is it more of a suggestion? How is data most helpful in driving acquisitions? And where does data fall short or even lead us astray?


Erika Stevens is the editorial director at Coffee House Press, where she has served in various editorial capacities for a decade. Erika currently acquires poetry, nonfiction, and fiction for Coffee House. Erika was previously in acquisitions at the University of Georgia Press and the University Press of Florida; she started her career in publishing at Duke University Press and UNC Press. She taught in the graduate program in book publishing at Portland State University and in the Sierra Nevada College MFA program. She dabbles in German-to-English translation and has freelanced widely for authors, presses, and nonprofit organizations.

Josh Leventhal is the director of the Minnesota Historical Society Press. He began his career as an editor at Timber Press in Portland, Oregon, in the mid-1990s, and after moving to Minnesota in 2000, he worked for MBI Publishing, Voyageur Press, and an imprint of the Quarto Publishing Group before joining MNHS Press as an acquisitions editor in 2014. Working at large commercial publishers, nonprofit publishers, and small niche publishers in a range of subject areas, Josh has navigated a variety of markets and publishing business models. He is also the author of more than 15 books.

Jenny Krueger is senior publishing director for Lerner Publications in Minneapolis. She has worked in publishing and product development for 15 years, with extensive experience in educational publishing, particularly for the school library and classroom markets. Jenny has developed series, single titles, and database products that serve K–12 learners, including most recently Read WokeTM Books with Cicely Lewis and publishing partnerships with Crayola and Sesame Street.

New Member Spotlight: Kind World Publishing

Patricia Stockland and her seven-year-old daughter Reese created Kind World Publishing to help
connect the world through stories. Launching in spring 2022, the company will publish thought-
provoking, conversation-starting content that reflects children’s true experiences and emotions.
Stockland has always had aspirations of starting her own company but didn’t make it a reality until a
conversation with her daughter, who crafted the company’s name, made her realize how that work
could help make the world a kinder place.

Stockland states: “Stories can build bridges that help connect our humanity. I realized in listening to
Reese that I had been overcomplicating the decision to start something we all cared about and were
invested in. With Kind World, we want to create a space for conversations, to dig into the power and
outcomes of our actions and words, to share narratives that foster connections.” By empowering
Reese at such a young age to be involved in real-world decisions that can really shape the future,
Stockland hopes to encourage more young entrepreneurs to follow their dreams and to lead with

Stockland has had an extensive publishing career coupled with a working mom’s point of view. Prior to
starting Kind World Publishing, she led change and growth initiatives at several MBPR member
companies: as publisher for Capstone, VP and editor in chief for Lerner Publishing Group, and editorial
director for Red Line Editorial, among other roles. She has also authored more than 80 books and
edited and concepted numerous others. Her expertise spans creative work and continual improvement
across operations.

Kind World Publishing will launch with an inaugural list of four titles including two picture books, one
early reader, and one chapter book. The intent of the publishing program is to showcase stories that are
a genuine reflection of humanity—stories that may not have had a chance to be told but are worthy of
being heard. The initial titles will focus on themes of resilience, family, friendships, and joy. Books will
be available in the trade and library markets and distributed by Publishers Group West, an Ingram

Stockland plans to incorporate children’s voices and experiences into her company from the start.
Reese’s Read Alouds, a monthly video campaign, will officially launch on May 3, to mark the start of
National Children’s Book Week. Reese will read and explain her favorite children’s books, sharing her
views on why each book is important and how it spreads kindness in the world.

Kind World Publishing is committed to helping start conversations, and to further facilitate that, the
company will create kid-friendly conversation-starter questions and activities for each book.

For more information about Kind World Publishing, visit

Connect with Patricia Stockland on Twitter (@pstockland) and LinkedIn.