We see our press as one of the most important privileges that has come from recent, rapid and still continuing changes to publishing where writers now have access to the means of production and therefore have the freedom to develop new models of publishing that feel more rewarding to them. For us, this involves moving away from both commercial and more exclusively literary models of publishing and invites writers to be more directly responsible for the quality of the writing that gets published and its larger social purpose. It changes the questions a writer asks from How do I get published? to Why do I want this work to be published? That why, for us, is organized around two of the most important intrinsic rewards of writing and of other arts—deepened insight and more complex and inclusive conversations with others on issues of central concern to us individually and communally. We encourage the writers in our anthologies to listen to each other as well as to expand into the experience of being heard themselves—and for members of our writers collective, we ask that they hear other people into speech and print as they themselves have been heard.
The Wising Up Writers Collective was inspired by the talent of many of the writers who contributed to our anthologies and who also felt a special affinity to the social commitments and approach of Universal Table/ Wising Up Press. We have enjoyed watching their work develop over time, increasing in integrity and authority with the encouragement of publication. We have found it particularly rewarding to offer this encouragement at a point in a writer's life (whether 28 or 82) when it would make a significant difference in their artistic and personal development.
We understood that for us as writer/publishers publishing individual works by other writers needed to be a collective activity if we were really interested in building sustaining and sustainable relationships. We see our Collective as a way of creating a network of positive, mutually empowering and amplifying creative relationships between us and the other writers individually and together.
There are a couple of dimensions of our approach to collective publishing that distinguish us from a group of writers who group gather together primarily to publish their individual works.
We are a press with a clear social mission, the fostering of an appreciation of difference and the challenges and rewards of pluralism, and, most importantly, an interest in the role that art, particularly story, can play in making it easier for us do this. We call our approach Finding the We in Them, the Us in You. The books and anthologies we publish foster this mission.
We are a press with professional skills in writing, editing, and publishing.As publishers, we have this experience, as well as substantive expertise in various subject areas. The members of the Collective also contribute their own substantial publishing skills and professional experience. This means that we create books that people like to have on their shelves.
We exercise a strong curatorial function. We are interested in the quality of the writing we publish, whether the writer is previously unpublished or highly published. We want authentic voices and well-crafted work that makes us think, opens our hearts and is about something.
We are respectful of writers. We read all the manuscripts we receive and respond promptly and in such a way that writers have something to grow on—because we also see that as one of the important responsibilities of the press and something that matters to us personally as writers ourselves.
We are interested in what happens collectively after a work is published and encourage collaboration among the authors of both our anthologies and the Collective that uses the books as catalysts for substantive social conversations.We are pleased or books sell, but what concerns us most is how well our books serve as catalysts for more insightful conversations. We work hard to create affordable, beautiful books with evocative and complex stories and we want these books to make real changes for the better in the lives of those who write them and those who read them. For the better, for us, means feeling that you and what you hold most dear also has a place at that universal table we all hunger for.