Today I am thrilled, proud and downright giddy to announce the launch of a new venture: She Writes Press.
About six months ago, Brooke Warner, formerly the Executive Editor of Seal Press (one of my favorite presses, by the way), came to me with an idea. What if, she asked, we started a press for authors who want to try their hand at publishing outside the traditional system, but who also want to be part of a high-quality, curated imprint? And what if we started this press as a an offshoot of the She Writes community, so its authors could leverage the support, networks, and knowledge of She Writers from all over the world? Authors would pay She Writes Press to edit, print and distribute their work, but She Writes Press would not publish anything that wasn't up to a high, "She Writes-y" standard.
Best of both worlds, right?
I said I was on sabbatical. Then I said I would think about it.
And think about it I did, even as I was diving more deeply into the writing of my book. I started to think: when my novel is finished, do I want to shop it around to publishers who will most likely give me a small advance, take all but 7.5% of the net profits from paperback sales (mine is not a hardcover sort of book), and, in return, frustrate me to no end by relying on ME to do all the hard work of promotion? Having spent some time trying to raise venture capital for a business idea associated with She Writes, I know that no entrepreneur would ever give away such a huge percentage of her idea for so little in return. And I was having a hard time imagining myself doing the same. I know publishers care deeply about books; I know some authors get the kind of publicity and support that makes the tradeoff worth making. I also know that for some authors, laying out capital from the beginning just isn't possible. (More on that in a minute.) But my experience publishing my first book was more like that of most authors I know: I had to bend over backwards to "sell" my book to people who stood to make a lot more money off it than I ever would...by convincing them that I would do all the work when it came to selling it. And do all the work I did, paying out of my own pocket for a website, an independent publicist, and my own travel as I took my book on the road.
If I'm going to invest so much time and money in my work, why not own and control it? And if I can do it under the She Writes brand, giving my book credibility, and publish it in a supportive, community environment, giving my book reach, why not?
I couldn't think of a good reason.
She Writes Press is not going to be a press for "other people," people who couldn't get a deal with a traditional house (which, these days, seems to have as much to do with pitching yourself to a marketing department as it does with the quality of your work). Like She Writes, which Deborah Siegel and I created because we needed it, I am founding She Writes Press with Brooke because I need it too. And when my novel is done, SWP is where I will go to publish it. That said, SWP won't be the right press for everybody, and She Writes will always be here for ALL women writers, no matter how they choose to publish.
Last but not least...I could never start a venture like this without making sure we found a way to support all authors with books we love, even those without the resources to invest in their books up front. So each year, we will choose one to two projects that we will edit, publish and distribute for free (in the spirit of what we did with The Passion Project).
And now it's time, too, for my sabbatical to end! I will be working on my novel, of course, but I will also be blogging every other week about my adventures in writing it, and Brooke will be blogging every other week too. More on other changes to the SW blog, and additions to our team, coming soon.
If you think She Writes Press might be right for you, please, visit the new site! And please, tell me what you think.