Our Story


WTAW Press is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that 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 many not have the ability to access such opportunities in other ways. We seek to encourage and inspire writers, readers, and community through our programs and our books. 


Our primary focus is publishing exceptional books—that likely would be overlooked in mainstream corporate publishing. We thoughtfully publish vital, exceptional books. 


Through our work, we strive to usher good into the world. We recognize that the publishing industry has historically excluded marginalized groups, particularly BIPOC, and that while it might shape culture, it doesn’t reflect cultural diversity. WTAW Press aims to do its part in creating a more representative publishing industry for all people across race, class, gender, geography, and other differences. 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.

In acquiring our titles for publication,  we welcome submissions from writers of all backgrounds and encourage submissions by women, BIPOC, LGBTQ or non-binary gender people, persons with disabilities, and other traditionally underrepresented groups. We open for submissions annually, and select books to publish from those open reading periods.


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.


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 Press.


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 books receive awards, accolades, and notice. (Our inaugural titles received Independent Publishers Book of the Year awards. Since then, books have also received Foreword Book of the Year, Northern California Book Award shortlist—the only small publisher, 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. 


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 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. Each month, for 10 years, WTAW drew audiences from everywhere in the Bay Area to hear authors read their work that regularly constituted a standing room only crowd of enthusiasts. In 2016 WTAW began expanding to other cities to seven more national locations: New York City, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Portland, Austin, New Orleans, and Asheville NC.


Peg continued to encounter provocative, compelling new writing—writing that equally captivated those SRO audiences. Writing that deserved a wider audience and deserved a committed publisher. She began researching the world of independent literary presses and gathering information from publishers she saw doing great work. In December 2015, she founded WTAW Press, announcing its launch first live at the WTAW reading event in Sausalito. WTAW Press opened for submissions in 2016, and the inaugural titles were published in September of 2017. 



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.