InkWell Publishing Interview
Q&A With Beverly Floyd and FC Barista Lorraine Martindale
Beverly Floyd’s advice to writers: You are more than the words you put on paper. Discover who you are and what you want your writing to do for yourself, your readers, and the world.
The founder of InkWell, Beverly Floyd, speaks about her inspiration in starting a new press, how writers can prepare for publishing, and challenges she’s faced beginning her new venture. A true advocate for writers, she believes in writers’ visions for themselves, and works closely with each writer to help them share their unique stories with the world. InkWell is presently accepting submissions for next year, and is looking for summer interns.
Fictional Café: Inkwell is a rather new indie publisher. What is your former publishing or writing experience, and what was your inspiration for starting InkWell?
Beverly Floyd: Thanks for introducing us to the writers and book lovers who frequent The Fictional Café. You’re right, we’re new in the space, so we truly appreciate the opportunity to meet other creatives.
My husband and I founded InkWell in 2020 with zero publishing experience. I’ve wanted to publish a book since I was 11 or 12, and like a lot of folks out there, I’ve written and never finished several books over the years.
It’s hard to sum up our inspiration story in a few words. The short version is that running a publishing company was first prophesied over my life by a stranger in 2007. I didn’t act on it, but I kept it tucked in the back of my mind. Fast forward to 2019 when my 27-year-old nephew, Cedric, tragically died. After college, he went abroad to teach English and began his quest to explore the world. He set a goal to visit 30 countries before he turned 30. He didn’t live to see his 30th birthday, but he accomplished his goal and created adventures in 31 countries! A former high-school teacher approached our family about writing a children’s book series highlighting every country he visited. She helped us publish the first two books, CedintheCity presents Birthday Surprise andHappy Chuseok: A Korean Thanksgiving. With at least 30 more books to publish, the prophecy was fulfilled.
I believe Cedric lived a life fuller than many people who live to see 90. He taught me to live in my passion. So, although Cedric’s death led to the birth of InkWell, his life is what inspired it.
FC: What are your thoughts about the present marketplace for writers?
There are a number of small press options these days; are there resources to help writers navigate indie publishing?
BF: In my opinion, the best resource to navigate indie publishing (or any press option for that matter) is the writer themselves. I think it’s important for writers to start with self-reflection. How do they envision their writing career? What are their specific goals for their manuscript? What type of relationship do they want to have with a publisher?
I want writers to know that they don’t have to say “yes” to the press. The relationship between writer and publisher should be collaborative and empowering. So, the best resource for writers is this wisdom. Once they have a clear idea of what’s best for them, navigating the plethora of resources becomes more manageable.
FC: Can you talk about a few of your authors that have inspired you? What are your favorite genres?
BF: Before InkWell, my favorite genre was non-fiction, particularly books that merge business and human behavior. One of my favorite authors is Malcolm Gladwell. Since InkWell, I no longer have a favorite genre. This is probably evident in the diverse genres we publish.
As far as inspiration is concerned, all the InkWell storytellers inspire me in ways outside of their gift for writing. For example:
Tracey, the author of The Art of Being Authentic (personal development), inspires me to nurture myself and make room to care for others. This is so important because I tend to be a workaholic. Watching her live life reminds me to pause and just be in the moment.
Tiffany, the author of The Imagination Machine (children’s adventure) and A Slow Descent(psychological thriller), inspires me to embrace experimentation, crave feedback, and combine fearlessness with fun.
Ololade wrote Ocean of Tears (true-to-life novel about overcoming domestic violence). He inspires me to be humble in pursuit of my goals and to use creative writing as a platform to address tough issues.
Michael-Xavier and Ebuka are the authors of Oluse: The Genesis (young adult fantasy). They inspire me to think big and expect big things to happen.
Anthony’s work in progress is The Dark Prince (young adult fantasy). He is also an extremely talented digital artist. He inspires me to advocate for myself and others and to view the world through imagery, not just words.
And then there’s Yong, one of Fictional Café’s Poetry Baristas. She inspires me to learn and leverage resources. She is always sharing knowledge and making connections between people. Yong is working on Camp Detroit (young adult dystopian).
FC: What are some challenges you’ve faced starting a new publishing company?
BF: I’m so glad you asked this.
Once we studied the industry, it was quite easy to identify how we wanted to create a different publishing experience for writers. Our biggest challenge to date is connecting with book lovers who want to be among the first to discover talented new authors and read their incredible stories. For InkWell, it’s not enough to publish books. We think our authors are amazing, and we believe the world would benefit from their stories. We need to do everything in our power to help our storytellers and their books achieve success. Enhancing this side of our business is a top priority for 2022. This is why I am so thankful for this interview and thankful to Yong for introducing us.
FC: Have you seen shifts in publishing trends that have helped diversity in publishing?
BF: Yes. I’ve noticed a strong interest in publishing the works of BIPOC creatives. I hope this interest outlives the lifespan of a trend and becomes the norm. I believe this will happen as the world’s eyes are open to the great, untapped brilliance of diverse authors.
FC: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
BF: You are more than the words you put on paper. Discover who you are and what you want your writing to do for yourself, your readers, and the world.
Also, everything I learned from our writers.
· Nurture yourself, care for others, pause and just be in the moment.
· Embrace experimentation, crave feedback, and combine fearlessness with fun.
· Put in the work and expect big things to happen, yet be humble in pursuit of your goals.
· Advocate for yourself and your story.
· Make connections, learn from every encounter, and share your knowledge with others.
FC: What are the benefits (or any negative aspects) of publishing with an indie press?
BF: I can’t speak for the pros and cons of working with other indie presses, but I’ll say this about working with InkWell.
I’ll start with the negative. We’re new, and we’re still learning. So, if you want to work with a publisher who’s figured it all out, we’re probably not the best fit.
The positive is that we’re new and we’re humble enough to continue learning. Trusted collaboration with our authors and industry partners helps us improve. And because we are small and agile, we can make change without all the red tape when we identify something that needs to be improved.
Another benefit is that we believe in organic growth, and we don’t take on more than we can handle. This means we can give each writer and project the personalized attention they deserve.
FC: And what are you looking for at InkWell, at the moment?
BF: We are reviewing submissions for 2023-2024. We consider all genres except horror, erotic romance, or paranormal romance.
This summer, we have intern opportunities for a publishing assistant and marketing generalist.
We also want to build partnerships with indie booksellers and readers who love to discover new authors.
You can contact InkWell here.