Our Story


WTAW Press is a 501(c)(3) non-profit 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, Why There Are Words, and through providing online workshops and manuscript consultations for those who many not have the ability to access such opportunities in other ways.  


Through our work, we strive to usher good into the world.


We lovingly publish vital, exceptional books for readers. Our aim is to support our authors throughout their writing careers. We seek to encourage and inspire writers, readers, and literary citizens through our programs and our books.


In acquiring our titles, our main mission is, quite simply, to publish the best, most vital books we can find, books that might otherwise be overlooked in mainstream corporate publishing. We welcome submissions from writers of all backgrounds and encourage submissions by women, minorities, LGBTQ or non-binary gender people, persons with disabilities, and other traditionally-underrepresented groups. We open for submissions yearly, and select books to publish from the open reading periods.


We are a small organization made of a working board, volunteers, and interns directed by Peg Alford Pursell, but while we are small, we are mighty! Our authors are active in the literary community, and each year our books are nominated for and receive awards. We participate in national conferences and book fairs, and our director regularly speaks about and presents on topics of small press publishing and literary citizenship.



In 2010  Peg Alford Pursell, our director, founded the literary reading series Why There Are Words (WTAW) in the San Francisco Bay Area, shortly after she moved from across the country to Sausalito. Her idea was to create literary community supporting writers whose work she believed to be vital. The guiding principle behind the curation of the WTAW monthly events? Good work is timeless and needs to be heard regardless of commercial concerns. So, while often writers reading at the series may be in the midst of promoting a new book, the real criterion behind the selection of readers has always been excellence.


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.


As our director became more and more aware of the acute need for writers to find a good home for their unpublished books, she wondered if she could do more. The accounts from writers who could not find an agent to represent their not-so-commercial manuscripts, from authors whose agents who could not sell their manuscripts, from writers and authors who captivated SRO audiences at WTAW multiplied. She began to research the world of small independent literary presses, talking to founders and publishers of literary presses she saw doing great work.


In December 2015, she launched WTAW Press, announcing its arrival first live at the WTAW reading event in Sausalito. The press opened for submissions in 2016, and the first titles were published in September of 2017. Each year WTAW selects books carefully to build its catalog of exceptional literature. At WTAW Press, we do everything we can to bring attention to the the fine work of our authors, to get their books in the hands of readers.



Please go to this page to learn about the ways you can be part of WTAW Press. We are a dynamic and optimistic organization, always on the lookout for ways to partner, synergize, and grow in meaningful ways.


One simple way, always, to help 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. You can also donate by text message. Text 44321, and enter “wordluv” (no quotation marks). We aren't choosy, only grateful for your help.