Have you ever prayed and asked God to show you the right path to take? Or maybe you were praying for Him to show up big and make your dreams come true?
I think if we're honest, we've all done it at one point or another, and we'll likely do it again. But what happens when God says, "Yes"? And what if it looks different than how you imagined it?
The road to starting Story-weaver Publishing LLC is a long one, but I'll share the most important details to help give you a picture of how the Lord has brought it about.
You see, when I (S. D. Howard) set out to write my stories, I did so with the intent of doing it for the secular market. At the time, I was weak in my walk with God and thought it would be easier to make money if I left my faith out of the stories and stuck to "morally good" characters. But I could feel that my stories lacked something, and I was never quite satisfied with them.
In 2020, I was publishing my first novel, The City of Snow & Stars, and trying to come up with a way to market it. It was an okay second draft, but still felt like it was lacking. So I prayed about it, and only half-heartedly asked God for His opinion.
"Label it Christian Fantasy."
His answer was clear as day, and I was dumbfounded. He couldn't be serious. How on Earth was I going to reach the world by actually living out my faith through writing and sharing the Gospel? (Yes, I was that dumb.)
Nevertheless, I did as He told me to do.
That decision led me down a path I never would have expected. The lives that were touched and the writers who were encouraged by my writing left me questioning if I had my views all wrong. What if I wasn't supposed to write for the secular market? What if I was supposed to write for Christians?
Over the last three years, the Lord has convicted me on that point, and I can say with confidence that is a large part of it. But, as with my stories, it was lacking something.
I spent some time stalking different writing groups, reading posts from authors who, like me, struggled with God leading them in this direction. It's really not a fun place to be when you stop and think about it. You're too "gritty" and "raw" for most Christian readers, and your story is too "Christian" for secular publishers. How the heck do you sell a book like that?
I could see a need there, even if it was a small one, but I wasn't sure what it looked like. There were already publishers out there helping authors, so what would make mine any different than theirs?
After a lot of prayer, I felt the Lord leading me to have Story-weaver Publishing LLC be unapologetically Christian. To specialize in the honest, raw, gritty nature of storytelling, to show my fellow believers what He wanted to show them. To have a statement of faith that declared who we are and what we believe in, and by which standard we would seek to publish books.
Then it was about the mission. Why are we doing this? I'll share the mission statement from our home page:
Life is dark and filled with pain. Some make it through, while others succumb to it. The ones that make it through know how hard-fought their victory was, and reach back a hand to grab hold of those still struggling.
The mission of Story-weaver Publishing is to not shy away from hard things, difficult topics, or the darkness. Indeed, we aim to shine a light into it as a beacon of hope. And that light is Christ.
Jesus. Hope. Storytelling.
The mission of this publisher is to first and foremost bring glory to Christ through the gifts of storytelling He's given to authors. The second is to share those stories with fellow Christians and unbelievers, pointing them ever to the Cross and the Gospel.
We have big plans for this publisher, Lord willing. Our goal is to be a home for Christian authors who aren't afraid to be called such. To encourage them to be bold about it and live out their faith before men.
We hope to have audiobook narrators who will help us create amazing audio experiences for our readers. We want to submit our authors to awards to help them leverage marketing opportunities.
We want to expand our resources and templates to help authors, even if they don't publish with us. Provide them with videos and, maybe one day, short courses on specific topics.
Most of all, we want to honor God with every book we publish.
For submissions, here's what you can expect from us:
A thorough manuscript evaluation, content review, and theological review. Everything, and I mean everything, is weighed against the Statement of Faith. If the core theological values do not hold true to that, and the author clearly is not in line with that standard, they will not be published.
You can expect clear communication from myself (S. D. Howard) and the rest of the team.
We're about quality, not quantity. Again, we're not looking for man's approval but God's, and we do everything as unto the Lord.
The team has been working hard to prepare everything for a successful launch, and we are looking to start accepting our first submissions in the fall of 2023. If you are an author and would like to get an "early bird" privilege before the general announcement, you can sign up for our author newsletter (at the bottom of the page) to gain access to submissions several weeks in advance.
Our first wave of authors will be me, Veronika Childs (who is already published), and Beth Spurlock (coming later this year), each of whom co-authored a short story that ties into my second novel, The City of Stone & Sorrow (releasing in July).
I cannot express to you how excited I am for this book. It just hits different. If you don't believe me, just ask my editors (they tell me therapy is going well, haha).
As I close, I want to leave off with some food for thought that I have found myself struggling with that might encourage you, too.
Recently, my son, who is almost ten, was wrestling with some fear.
I asked him, "Do you know what terrifies Daddy the most about everything he's doing with the publisher?"
"No," he replied.
I looked him dead in the eye and said, "Succeeding."
Because I don't know what God will do next. It's His publisher, after all. What I do know, however, is that the success of Story-weaver Publishing doesn't rely on me or my amazing team. If we're doing our best to honor God, He'll take care of everything else.
I never want to boast about what we've done to "make" this publisher succeed. I want it instead to have the heart of Act 2:46-4:
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. KJV (emphasis added)
Whether you are a reader or an author, I hope you will join in in prayer and celebration because of what God is doing.
On behalf of everyone on the team,
S. D. Howard at Story-weaver Publishing LLC