A Publishing Empire
If you’ve been following my blog series on Edward Stratemeyer (Part I and Part II), you already know that this man became the king of outsourcing, before outsourcing was a popular byword. A talented author and brilliant businessman, Edward built a publishing empire by creating plot ideas and hiring writers (using pseudonyms and sworn to secrecy) to write the novels.
Early on, all of his books starred adventurous boys. Nancy Drew came onstage in 1930 – the year of Stratemeyer’s death. Nancy Drew, as adventurous as her counterparts, drove a convertible, piloted a speedboat, and knew how to repair motors (…an expert automobilist, the ads read).
Stratemeyer himself wrote the first books in the series, and soon the sales topped anything he had previously published. The Hardy Boys had made their appearance three years earlier, and as most people know, the popularity of both series has never waned.
Loving Family Man
Married, with two children, Stratemeyer was a loving, devoted family man. It was his daughter, Harriet, who inherited her father’s penchant for writing fiction. She often begged him to allow her to write for him. While Nancy Drew might have a career, in real life Edward believed a woman’s place was in the home.
But then in May, 1930, Edward Stratemeyer died. The publishers went into a panic – what would happen to the great empire?
Enter Harriet Stratemeyer-Adams
Quietly and with little fanfare, Harriet Stratemeyer-Adams stepped in and took over. She moved the business to East Orange, N.J. and worked from home (thus keeping with her father’s wishes – remaining at home).
She ran the business very much as her father had, continuing to utilize the concept of outsourcing to produce a large volume of titles annually. She then became the outsourcing queen.
Updating Past Series; Creating New Series
Through the 1930s and 1940s, the number of series began to decline; however Harriet was careful to keep Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and the Bobbsey Twins alive.
Later on, she updated some of the older book adding current technological advances and eliminating some of the strong stereotypes. Harriet also created the Dana Girls and the Kay Tracey series.
A Dream Come True
Harriet lived to the ripe old age of 89. From 1930 until the time of her death in 1982, she was Carolyn Keene, author of the Nancy Drew series. Her father’s dream-come-true had become her dream-come-true.
As a result, generations of young readers vicariously were also able to dream, and imagine, and see beyond their present circumstances.
Edward Stratemeyer and his daughter, Harriet Stratemeyer-Adams, dignified the term work-for-hire, and catapulted the idea of outsourcing into a million-dollar publishing empire.
I am amazed, impressed, and powerfully inspired by our literary heritage! Don’t you agree?