Beyond the Glass Ceiling | Women, Collaboration and how two women grew a successful publishing company from grass roots
When Wild River Consulting & Publishing, LLC, owners Joy Stocke and Kim Nagy first met for coffee in 2005, neither could have predicted how their futures would merge. Fueled by a passionate conversation about literature and more important, the power of stories to heal and transform, Stocke and Nagy—writers, editors, dedicated entrepreneurs and busy mothers—felt an instant kinship over the impact stories can make in every sector—and the craft it takes to tell them well.
They believed strongly in a nearly unheard-of approach at the time—the power of collaboration—a force slowly picking up speed with the growth of the Internet.
Stocke, a literary journalist with a degree in Radio-Broadcast Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was already a well-established author, community organizer of writers, and a founder of the Meridian Writers Collective reading series in Philadelphia (one of the first of its kind) and grass-roots publishing initiatives. In 2004, she brought her reputation for editorial direction and content curation to The Bucks County Writer literary magazine, situated in the heart of the “Genius belt”.
Fascinated with rapid technology developments (and possible cost-savings) Stocke was soon looking to bring the publication’s reputation and presence online to grow its demographic. She faced resistance. At the time, many publishers thumbed their noses at “online” magazines. But two years after Wild River Review (www.wildriverreview.com) launched its first issue in 2006, the Utne Reader named the website one of the “great” literary magazines, and praised its international literary flavor and “exceptionally interesting interviews”.
Groomed in the boardrooms of traditional publishers from London to New York City, Nagy came from the world of marketing and publicity management for houses such as Princeton University Press, Routledge UK and WW Norton. In 2003, shortly after the birth of her daughter, she left publishing to write as a work-at-home mom, focusing closely on content creation. But, Nagy never forgot her marketing and PR training, which relentlessly begged the question: “Who am I writing for?” for her clients. As passionate about promotion as she is about creation, Nagy stressed that without user-centric analysis and outreach, no creative or business initiative could ever connect with its core audience.
It was an approach the team at Wild River adopted and expanded as Stocke and Nagy rapidly grew their literary audience of creatives well beyond the mailing list of the Bucks County Writer to include international authors and journalists, publishers and TV-producers, academics and photographers, as well as non-profit leaders and entrepreneurs. In 2009, with a growing demand, Stocke and Nagy combined their talents under one roof to form Wild River Consulting & Publishing, LLC.
“It wasn’t long before people began to come to us for advice about their book or their brand,” says Joy E. Stocke, recalling the company’s shift to add consulting, professional interviews and publishing to its menu of services. “We were in such a great position to help.”
The team has also worked to provide a nurturing community of writers and creatives in what has been termed “The Wild River School” a rigorous editorial process that humanizes headlines, uncovers fresh perspectives, and can expand a series of family vignettes into a compelling biography or award-winning novels, such as Marina Gottlieb Sarles’s The Last Daughter of Prussia.
“We feel that as women, friends, aunts and mothers we bring a desire to pass on a nuanced and humanizing approach to telling stories both as literature and for business, particularly to young women struggling to gain a foothold in a tough field. We actively seek to nurture the next generation,” says Nagy.
About Wild River Books: With over thirty years of publishing, editing, design and marketing experience, Wild River Books–a full-service publishing house–upholds the top standards of the industry and offers strategic publishing solutions for the 21st century. Through Wild River Consulting & Publishing, LLC, Wild River Books also ran the international online literary and arts magazine Wild River Review with loyal readers from every corner of the world until 2019.