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Our Story



WTAW Press is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit publisher devoted to discovering and publishing enduring literary works. We publish and champion a carefully curated list of titles across a range of genres (literary fiction, creative nonfiction, and prose that falls somewhere in between), subject matter, and perspectives. We welcome submissions from writers of all backgrounds and especially encourage submissions by women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ or nonbinary gender people, persons with disabilities, and other traditionally underrepresented groups. 

We publish and champion books that possess a mastery of craft and artistry, are unafraid to risk, and showcase a variety of voices and experiences—books that are likely to be overlooked in mainstream corporate publishing. 

WTAW supports the artistic development of writers; fosters a thriving literary community; and inspires a passion for literature through publishing books, through producing its national neighborhood of author readings, and through providing online workshops and manuscript consultations for those who may not have the ability to access such opportunities in other ways. We seek to encourage and inspire writers, readers, and community. 


Through our work, we strive to do good. We recognize that the publishing industry has historically excluded marginalized groups, particularly BIPOC, and WTAW Press aims to do its part in creating a more representative publishing industry for all people across differences of but not limited to race, class, gender, geography, disability, and neurodiversity. Incorporating diversity and equity into our practices is an ongoing learning process—one we are committed to. You can read more about our efforts here.

We open for submissions annually, and select books to publish from those open reading periods. Learn more about our publishing program here.


We are a small organization made of a small working board, volunteers, and interns directed by Peg Alford Pursell. WTAW Press is made up of individuals who support and challenge one another to become the best versions of ourselves. We're proud of the culture we've created, and we are eager to continue our work and progress. Read more on the "About Us" page.


WTAW Press practices stewardship in the literary community through hosting readings and literary events, participating in book fairs and literary conferences, providing educational outreach, and sharing knowledge about small press publishing. We cultivate relationships with writers, artists, and the community, and we are dedicated to promoting the literary arts in ways that make our authors, artists, readers, and community proud to be part of WTAW.


Our authors are active in the literary community, and we aim to support them throughout their writing careers. Each year we enter their books into contests and each year their books receive awards, accolades, and notice. Our inaugural titles received Independent Publishers Book of the Year awards. Our books have also received Foreword Book of the Year, Northern California Book Award shortlist (the only small publisher nominated), William Saroyan International Prize for Writing longlist, and others. We take pride in serving our authors through extensive and thoughtful promotion and publicity campaigns, and arrange events at book stores, book fairs, conferences, academic settings, symposia, and more. Read a few words from authors about their experiences with WTAW.


Our books have been reviewed and covered in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Shelf Awareness, Ms. Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, Booklist, the Moscow Times, among other national and international media outlets, and they've found an ardent readership. 



In 2010  Peg Alford Pursell, our director and editor-in-chief, founded the literary reading series Why There Are Words (WTAW) in the San Francisco Bay Area shortly after she moved to Sausalito from across the country. For 10 years, every month WTAW drew audiences from the Bay Area and beyond, often standing room only crowds, to hear authors read their work. In 2016 WTAW began expanding to other cities: New York City, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Portland, Austin, New Orleans, and Asheville NC.


As Peg continued to encounter provocative, compelling new writing, she found it harder to let go of the knowledge that the writing deserved a wider audience—and a committed publisher. After researching the world of small press publishing, she founded WTAW, announcing its launch live at the December 2015 WTAW reading event in Sausalito. WTAW formed its small hardworking Board of Directors, was granted status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and opened for manuscript submissions that summer of 2016. Our inaugural titles were published in September of 2017 to great notice and acclaim.  

Peg Alford Pursell received her MFA from the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. She is an award-winning author and has over 20 years of experience as an editor. She also has extensive experience teaching writing and has fostered community through writing workshops wherever she’s gone. Her background includes serving on the Boards of literary organizations like Litquake, the California Writers Club, and others. She often speaks on topics about publishing, writing, community, and feminism.



WTAW Press is a dynamic organization on the lookout for ways to partner, synergize, and grow in meaningful ways. You can learn more about how to become involved here.  Feel free to contact us with your ideas and questions.


One simple way to help, always, is to donate to our cause. All contributions are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law and can be made online here. If you prefer to send a check our mailing address is WTAW Press, PO Box 2825, Santa Rosa, CA 95405. We're grateful for your help.

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