“Great Books About Real Girls” is the tagline of In This Together Media, a publishing company founded by Carey Albertine and Saira Rao in March 2012. The New York City-based company has already published two middle-grade novels and one YA novel, and it will release its second YA title in May. On April 11, the publisher initiated a 27-day Kickstarter campaign to raise $30,000 to help fund additional projects, and at press time has raised $26,528 toward that goal.

Former classmates at the University of Virginia, Albertine and Rao drew from their prior career experience to start their business. Albertine, who has an MBA, has a background in TV production, as a P&L manager, and as a stand-up comedian. Rao, a former attorney, has worked as a TV news producer and wrote the novel Chambermaid (Grove Press). When they first began working together several years ago, their initial venture was developing an animated TV series for preschoolers, but they soon changed direction.

“We had a series of ideas that we wanted to bring to market,” says Albertine, “and over the course of working together, we started to discover there was a real opportunity in publishing, with costs of producing and distributing books having dropped dramatically, to bring books to market faster than in the past. We began to explore that idea, and realized that we could fit into the publishing ecosystem somewhere between traditional publishing and self-publishing. We partner with our writers and provide much better economics than traditional publishers while providing more editorial, production, distribution, and marketing support than they would get if they self-published.”

According to Rao, In This Together Media has a “bifurcated” business model. “Sometimes Carey and I come up with story content and character ideas, and find the right writer for the project. Or we acquire books the old-fashioned way when authors come to us with completed manuscripts that we decide to publish.”

In This Together’s first titles, all released in both paperback and e-book editions, are Lily Out of Bounds, the first installment of Andrea Montalbano’s Soccer Sisters series; Mrs. Claus and the School of Christmas Spirit by Rebecca Munsterer, which launches a holiday-themed series; and Playing Nice, a YA novel by Rebekah Crane. Its second YA release, Personal Statement by Jason Odell Williams, will be published next month. The books are available for sale at Amazon.

These novels reflect the publisher’s mission to focus on books with strong female protagonists, says Albertine. “Though our books are not just for girl readers but boys as well, they all feature authentic female characters. They are not Pollyannas or princesses or super-chicks, but nuanced and real people. It’s important to us to show female relationships authentically, and not emphasize the mean-girl phenomenon. Our female friends are our best support systems and we want our books to reflect that.”

Albertine and Rao hope to expand their company’s annual output to 10 titles a year, and launched the Kickstarter campaign to accelerate that growth. “Of course we still have startup costs, but our books are funding the business, and we realized that it wouldn’t take all that much more capital for us to move a little faster and get to goal,” says Albertine. “With $30,000, we will be able to bring 10 new books to market in 2014.”

As incentives for contributing to their campaign, Albertine and Rao are offering signed copies of books donated by acclaimed authors, including Sheryl Sandberg, Jennifer Egan, Ayelet Waldman, and Nicole Krauss. “They all got behind our effort right away,” says Rao. “These are great female authors who write wonderful books with very real characters. And that’s exactly what In This Together Media is doing – publishing great books about real girls.”