“It’s obviously very scary to be starting a new business in this struggling economy,” explains Heidi Komlofske, owner of 1776 Productions. “And, without a background in the newspaper industry, I’ve been learning a lot about production through trial-and-error,” Heidi admits. “But what Ross [Rojek] and I are learning is how to create a niche market for the publishing industry to publicize their books.”
Heidi is referring to The Sacramento Book Review, an independent, monthly, printed book review that launched in September 2008 in the greater Sacramento area with 10,000 copies. “We used Sacramento as a test market for the publication, and received much more accolades than ever anticipated,” says Heidi proudly. The positive reception in Sacramento has convinced the couple, who began working on the Book Review last summer when they started dating, to expand into the San Francisco area, distributing 2000 copies in local book stores.
Originally from Livermore, Heidi has been living in Tracy, for the past 14 years. Most of her adult career was spent in marketing and graphic design, and prior to starting The Sacramento Book Review, Heidi was Director of Marketing & Graphic Design for Locus Technologies.
If the name Ross Rojek sounds familiar, it’s because he made unfortunate headlines a few years ago regarding a mail and wire fraud. “I made a mistake, and regret it terribly,” admits Ross over the phone. While serving time, Ross turned to books, devouring literature the way some people devour chocolate-covered waffle crepes. “I realized there were so many great books out there, and I wanted to find a way tell people about them.”
“We want The Sacramento Book Review to become not only a vehicle for Sacramento readers to find new books and authors, but to help create, support, and encourage local writers, publishers, and readers,” continues Heidi.
With her background in graphic design, Heidi is responsible for the design and layout of the monthly publication, while Ross attends to the hundreds of books that get sent to them every week. “I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite book,” laughs Heidi. “There are just too many great books floating around!” The free monthly tabloid reviews between 150-200 books in more than 30 categories and genres.
Their devotion to make the paper a success in a struggling time is admirable. “Ross and I both have iPhones, and rely on those for communicating with publicists and keeping up on our email when we’re out of the office,” says Heidi. “The only thing that can be frustrating is when publicists don’t take us seriously, since we aren’t well-known yet. While Sacramento is our test market, we are looking to see if there is enough support from the local publishers and book stores to justify another edition focused on the Bay Area.”