I’m very pleased to be joined by Snowy Wings Publishing, independent, author-driven publisher of Middle Grade, Young Adult and New Adult fiction.
1. Tell me a little bit about Snowy Wings Publishing. What are your guiding principles/ideas?
Snowy Wings Publishing was founded by a group of authors who believe firmly in the indie publishing revolution, and that giving authors creative control is the best way to ensure that the widest variety of stories get out there. Because of the constraints in the way they operate, stories that may be considered more “niche” or less “mainstream” might not get a chance at a New York publisher. We believe there’s room for everyone at the table, and indie publishing has leveled the playing field. Our goal is to help indie authors reach as many readers as they can and find their audience in a way they might not be able to on their own.
2. Why did you decide to focus on MG, YA and NA?
We originally started as a YA publisher specifically because YA is one of the most difficult genres for indie authors to succeed in on their own, particularly if they’re trying to reach teenagers rather than adult readers of YA. There’s still a stigma attached to self-publishing in many corners of YA book-land, and it’s still difficult to reach bookstores and libraries, which is where many teens find their books. However, we soon spread our reach to include NA and MG due to popular demand from our authors, many of whom write in more than one genre. Because lower YA often overlaps with MG (another market that’s notoriously difficult for indie authors to tap into) and upper YA often overlaps with NA, we’ve found that most of our readership is interested in at least two of those genres, if not all three. We’re also pleased that we’ve been able to help somewhat “unconventional” NA—that’s often NA in character age but more YA in tone—find an audience that might have been more difficult for them to find in a strictly traditional or strictly self-published environment.
3. Your website talks a little bit about co-op publishing. Could you explain that a little bit more?
There are a number of co-op publishers out there and all of them do it differently, so our definition will likely be different than another co-op’s. At Snowy Wings Publishing, we look at it as self-publishing with a group. Most of our authors are either veteran self-publishers who were frustrated with their lack of reach on their own, or traditionally-published authors who wanted to break into self-publishing but were wary of diving in without a support network. We provide that support network. We have an active Facebook group where our authors are able to bounce ideas off each other, keep abreast on industry news, and offer each other tips. We also are able to offer recommendations for the best editors, cover designers, and other freelancers to work with, and often beta-read each other’s work to make sure it’s the best it can be before publication. We work together cooperatively to help each other’s author careers thrive and ensure all of our books are as successful as they can be.
4. I’m always looking for exciting and inclusive publishers. How do you ensure that diverse voices are being heard?
Our founding authors are a diverse group, including queer authors, authors of color, disabled authors, and authors with various intersecting identities. Inclusivity has been important to us from the beginning, and we’ve worked hard at continuing to boost underrepresented voices because we’ve learned from experience that indie is often a more welcoming environment for stories that don’t fit the cis-straight-white-abled mold, and we want to do our part to make these stories reach the widest audience possible. Even though we’re currently closed to unsolicited submissions, we’ve been actively working behind the scenes to recruit new authors for SWP that we know have great stories to tell, with a special emphasis on boosting marginalized voices. We plan to open submissions for a brief period later this year and hope we’ll be able to find even more awesome books that might not find a home at larger publishers.
5. I love that you’re led by a team of authors – do you think this gives you a unique insight into the publishing world?
Absolutely! Since we have a relatively even mix of veteran indie authors and authors who have been traditionally published, among the whole of us we have a pretty good grasp on all aspects of the industry, both in the traditional sphere and the indie one. Our authors have been able to share advice about the publishing process, industry trends, and marketing to both typical indie readers (who tend to be more adults) and typical traditional readers (who are more split, but teen readers tend to fall into this group). We’ve found that a rising tide lifts all boats, and the success of any of our authors has been able to help all our authors. Some of our authors have won prestigious awards, such as the RITA® for Best First Book (Clara Kensie’s Deception So Deadly), or received stellar reviews from trade publications like Kirkus (Mary Fan’s Starswept), and these achievements have opened up opportunities to the group that we never would have been able to get on our own—including an excellent print distribution deal to schools and libraries, which makes our books more easily available to the readers who need them, particularly younger readers or readers without a lot of disposable income.
6. Do you have any big plans for the future?
Moving forward, we’d like to focus on making our print books available at more brick-and-mortar bookstores, which will put our books in front of more eyes—particularly younger readers who still tend to shop online less than their adult counterparts. We’re also working on giving our readers more opportunities to meet their favorite authors, which is why this last month we added an events calendar to our website listing all our authors’ upcoming appearances, such as panels, workshops, and book signings. There are some other still-under-wraps things we’re working on, but our goal will always be to boost more of the awesome indie books that are out there and help close the gap between the indie and traditional publishing worlds.