The dictionary defines maverick as someone who exhibits great independence in thought and action, qualities that describe Oregon Maverick, Rick Steber, to a T.
As a young man, Steber knew he wanted to become a writer; he also had the foresight to realize it was not going to be easy.
“You can’t do what everybody else is doing. You have to do something that stands out,” said Steber about marketing, and stand out is exactly what he did.
He began his career by writing short vignettes of Oregon history, called Oregon Country. Knowing he could not make a living unless he was able to sell each story more than once, he decided to head out on horseback and visit every newspaper in the Willamette Valley; Hoping they would agree to publish his column.
Rick started in Eugene, and made his way to Brownsville. He tied his horse to a parking meter, dropped in some change, and walked inside the Brownsville Times office where he was met by a less than friendly newspaper employee. She promptly told him she was not interested in whatever it was he was selling. Rick, being the persistent marketer he is, said, “Lady, I just got done riding my horse 40 miles to get here. It rained on me and then the sun came out and it got hot, you really need to listen to what I have to say.”
She listened, and Rick was able to convince her to publish his column. His first paycheck was $50, and his first purchase was a Stetson cowboy hat.
Rick rode his horse to Canby and set up a tent outside the Canby paper until the publisher invited him inside, where he too agreed to publish Rick’s column.
As he rode his horse toward Silverton, a carload of rambunctious teenage boys spooked his horse. Rick dove off, and for the most part was unscathed, but the horse, who had reared up, and fell over backwards, was hurt enough that Rick hung his cowboy boots from the saddle horn, put on his tennis shoes, and walked the horse the rest of the way. A reporter from the Statesman’s newspaper, out of Salem, took a picture, and dubbed him the ‘Tennis Shoe Cowboy’.
Rick stood out then, and continues to be a self-made marketer.
“If you’ve got a band, you have to play the county fairs,” he said. “But, now it is a totally different game. Now it is social media, it is radio, it’s TV.”
Rick continues to market his books in his own unique way. He is often asked to speak at banquets and other gatherings. He also spends time going to local schools, educating kids and letting them know that if you put your mind to it, anything is possible. Rick sees between 5,000 and 10,000 grade school kids each year, and he tries to make sure that every kid gets an autographed book.
His passion for writing, and Oregon history have taken him around the state, into libraries and courthouses, across the Oregon Trail and on a hiking trip from Fort Boise to The Dalles. He has interviewed old-timers, outlaws and lawmen and at times pushes the boundaries of their comfort zones.
One of Ricks recently published books, Red, White and Black, has won the Benjamin Franklin Silver Award in the category of Multicultural, and was a finalist for the Indie Book Award in the category of Regional Non-fiction.
Steber has also won the Western Writers of American Spur Award.
His latest book, All-Around & the 13th Juror can is now available at