In 2012, editor, book coach, and writer Brooke Warner took stock of the publishing landscape—and found there was something decidedly missing. Many books of great value and potential interest to readers were being overlooked and left unpublished. Warner envisioned creating a press that wasn’t self-publishing or traditional publishing but something in-between. Her goal: to “acquire books based on their editorial merit and not the author’s brand or author platform.” Warner teamed with fellow author and cofounder of SheWrites.com Kamy Wicoff (Wishful Thinking), and they set out to make their dream of a discerning, galvanizing publishing platform a reality.
She Writes Press, which specializes in literary fiction, nonfiction, and memoir, handles the print and digital publication of titles through a single publishing package that takes readers from a manuscript to a beautifully published book. The hybrid publishing model ensures an expedited publishing schedule without sacrificing on editorial or design quality. SWP utilizes traditional distribution channels, which allow for smart and effective placement in the market, prides itself on its editorial and design quality, and manages backlist titles, for the lifetime of each book.
“As a press, SWP is invested in its authors becoming savvy ‘authorpreneurs’ and knowing everything they can about the industry to support them in their endeavors,” Warner says. “The education that SWP authors get is unparalleled, which provides opportunities in the form of authors understanding the industry and how to navigate what might come their way.” To date, SWP has published more than 1,000 titles—and that’s only the beginning for the innovative publisher.
Better Together: She Writes Press and SparkPress Join Forces
SparkPress was founded in 2013 by Crystal Patriarche, CEO of SparkPoint Studio, which became the parent company of She Writes Press in 2014. Like Warner, Patriarche recognized the frustrations of many authors who have become disillusioned by the limited opportunities within the traditional publishing world. Upon first meeting, Warner and Patriarche knew that working together would allow them to support and invest in even more authors across a broad range of categories and genres, and upon the merging companies, Warner became publisher of both imprints.
In contrast to She Writes Press, SparkPress focuses more on publishing commercial and genre fiction, young adult, and middle grade titles. The press has remained “intentionally small,” says Warner, publishing 20 to 25 titles per year. This ensures that each writer receives the attention his or her work deserves, from the editing stages to marketing and distribution.
Recognizing a pressing need for more hybrid picture book presses, SparkPress launched a children’s book wing in 2020. To best serve authors of picture books—and recognizing the unique complexities of creating illustrated titles—the press created an independent submissions and publication process expressly for that category. “Children’s books require so much care and attention due to illustrations, four-color printing, and more,” says associate publisher Lauren Wise, who’s spearheading the initiative. It’s a challenge SparkPress is delighted to take on.
As authors are increasingly squeezed out of the already saturated traditional publishing market, SparkPress provides a route to publication and opportunity for increased discoverability. Three hundred SparkPress titles have been named winners and finalists across a range of indie contests and awards. Fifteen authors who published their debut books with SparkPress have gone on to sign traditional publishing deals, and three titles have been optioned for film. Patriarche notes that both imprints are always looking to forge new, meaningful partnerships in the book world and beyond. In addition to positioning authors to have their books professionally reviewed, the company actively teams with book clubs, social media influencers, movie studios, and more to better establish a vital sense of community.
With their teams of experienced professionals who are passionate about quality writing, She Writes Press and SparkPress are looking forward to the future. They continue to be driven by a shared core mission: to uplift new voices and provide authors with an empowering path to publication. “It’s always the same aspiration, and that’s to continue to level the playing field for hybrid publishing and hybrid-published authors,” Warner says. “These past 10 years, we’ve made major strides, and as the leader in this space, the press’s priority is to stay the course and lead by example, continuing to advocate for hybrid publishing and also to publish books whose quality and sales results show the viability of this business model.”