interview: kellyn roth, founder of wild blue wonder press
If you haven't started piecing things together from the title of today's post, or if you haven't already heard, the esteemed Kellyn Roth, author of the beloved Chronicles of Alice and Ivy series, is launching a small press!!!
*cue dramatic celebratory squeals*
Kell has this amazing mission to help new indie authors through the publishing process (specifically with ✨anthologies✨ right now), and I am SO excited to be a part of sharing this fabulous press with y'all!
I hope y'all enjoy reading our interview! I had such a fun time learning more about Kell's vision for Wild Blue Wonder Press!
Hiya, Kell! It’s so great to have you on the blog today, and I am beyond excited to talk about the launch of your small press, Wild Blue Wonder Press! To get started, could you share a little bit about the history of the press and how it morphed from your personal self-publishing imprint into a small press?
Hi Grace! I’m so grateful to be here—thank you for hosting me!
Well, let’s see. I suppose the first bit to share is how I started using “Wild Blue Wonder Press” as an imprint. Originally, I just used “Kellyn Roth, Author,” but I have always known that in the long run, I wanted to write a variety of genres, and it made sense to make sure I had the flexibility to switch pen names, etc., and still have a recognizable brand.
The name itself comes from a special location on my family’s property. As a child, I always said “wild blue wonder” instead of “wild blue yonder,” and in particular, I named a certain (rather unattractive but homey) valley “the wild blue wonder.” I love how it evokes that feeling of adventure, too. I knew at once that the logo would include a chickadee—my favorite bird and my grandpa’s childhood nickname for me—and have a snowy, cozy aesthetic.
However, once I had that set up, I realized that first, I would have to do some marketing to make the press name familiar to my audience.
Further, I am always the kind of person with a lot of irons in the fire, and it is exhausting. I love helping indie authors and young writers; I want to provide safe places for them to learn and grow. But how to do that when I have a thousand other things going on?
It eventually made sense, for that reason and just because it’s the next logical step, to combine the two. At that point, with my decisions made, it was just about finalizing the branding, deciding exactly what we would offer, and making sure the launch went smoothly.
I decided to start off with launching three anthologies, but we will soon be helping indie authors kick off their career with full-length works, too! If that’s of interest to you, you can actually contact us now.
What’s your main mission as the founder of Wild Blue Wonder Press?
Primarily, to help indie authors achieve their goals in a professional, organized matter and reduce the inherent risk of indie publishing while still giving authors freedom to make their own decisions.
However, that’s just the behind-the-scenes information!
As for what fiction I’m excited to promote and support, I’ll quote my website:
“Wild Blue Wonder Press’s mission is to share fictional stories full of grace and truth. Our goal is to create stories that matter, to delve into the deepest and sometimes the saddest parts of life, and to return from the darkest valleys resplendent in the light of hope and the fullness of joy.”
As also mentioned on the website, I’m currently focusing on women’s fiction aimed at a “new adult” Christian audience—young women navigating life as an adult and asking big questions along the way. That said, in the future, I will probably be expanding my audience. It will be a long time before I can personally work with fantasy, though I have hopes that some day I may be able to. However, I am already looking into expanding my audience.
Your website says your goal is to create stories that matter. What does that look like to you?
I love fiction of all types, and I am a big fan of fiction for the sake of entertainment. For real: despite the fact that I tend to write deep themes and characters with issues, there’s nothing wrong with a purely for-fun read! Fiction is valuable because it inspires us, yes, but sometimes it is equally as valuable to have a book that briefly takes us away from real life and makes us grin or cry or giggle.
That said, it’s not too hard to find that kind of fiction. I could recommend dozens of authors who fall under that category for me! However, I have always struggled to find authors who really make me think in my favorite genres. I want stories that matter—stories that transcend their fictional state and stay with you forever—stories whose themes and topics discussed have a real weight to them, heavy, that you can almost touch. Modern classics, if you will.
The idea is that every action the characters make should be human and real, every theme presented should be shown clearly through the realistic events of the story, and the tendency in Christian fiction to wrap things up in a tidy bow should be avoided. Think Jane Austen meets Anne Brontë, and eventually, we’ll branch out, but Jane and Anne are my inspirational queens, for now.
What are your goals, both short-term and long-term, for Wild Blue Wonder Press? Just for fun, where would you like this project to be in, say, ten years?
Short-term, get the anthology submissions open—the authors selected—the stories put together and launched—and then on to the next anthology (which, by the way, will be author-themed!).
Still somewhat short term, I will be using it to launch my own novel in September of 2023. Potentially, there will be another novel launched through the press before that, too. My goal is to start working with indie authors on developing their careers as soon as possible. I’m being cautious about overextending myself while I build out a team and figure out realistic goals (especially financially), but I will still be pushing to work with more indie authors in 2023 and 2024, to the limit of my capacity. Of course, the anthologies will be a great way to support some indie authors, but it’ll be a somewhat narrow group.
For authors who are publishing full-length novels with us, Wild Blue Wonder Press will offer support in editing, cover design, and other elements of the publishing process in addition to brand, marketing, and career-building.
The level of responsibility, financially and work-wise, for the author will vary based on individual contracts and comfort-levels. More experienced authors may choose to use our name (including provided ISBNs) and marketing resources but handle most of the process themselves. Beginners may rely on us more and may also choose to take less (or no) financial risk as time goes on, as with a traditional publisher. This means royalty rates will vary based on our involvement. However, this is more of a future plan.
In ten years, I hope we’ll have expanded to have several mini imprints for different genres, supporting many indie authors by helping them publish and giving them the association of our name. We will likely never be a traditional publisher, but we will offer indie publishers an introduction to hybrid publishing. More than anything, I want Wild Blue Wonder Press to be associated with quality fiction and successful authors who shine God’s light throughout the world.
You’re planning an anthology (which I absolutely cannot wait for!) to release soon, focused on the theme “Springtime in Surrey.” Can you tell us a little more about this collection of stories? How can writers submit their work?
Absolutely! This collection of stories will, as the title hints, involve a springtime in County Surrey, England. They can be historical (set in any era) or contemporary, and the stories should contain strong themes and lots of character development, allowing them to loosely fall under the genre “women’s fiction.” They may or may not have romance, but they will have a female main character.
Authors who join our anthology will agree, depending on their situation, to do a certain amount of personal platform development in addition to working with us on the anthology. Particularly, for the beginning writers, we will be discussing branding, audience, and so on and making a plan to set the writer up for a career.
For all our anthologies, we will be focusing on authors who have big goals and who truly want to launch a writing career. There’s nothing wrong with hobby writing, but for now, our energy is best spent on writers who can legitimately benefit from our help.
To submit for the collection, your story does not have to be completed—but you will have to submit a full synopsis, so if you are a pantser, it may be a good idea to write the story ahead of time. You can view our official submission page here. But here’s what you’ll submit:
An introduction to yourself, written in first person, which should include past writing experience, any details about your platform, and other applicable information you wish to share about your time as a reader, writer, and member of the “bookish community.” Note that beginners are welcome; however, it is helpful to know how much you have done, even if that answer is “practically nothing.” It’ll help us know how to help you!
A brief description of the types of books you enjoy writing or would like to write and a brief summary of your dreams for a writing career. This way we can understand better what your goals are.
A “pitch” of a short story idea that could theoretically fit into our collection. This does not have to be written. However, we want a full synopsis or rough outline that gives us the beginning, middle, and end of your story idea, a decent understanding of who your main character is and why we should care about them, and a brief summary of the main theme.
A snippet of a book, short story, or other piece of writing that you have worked on in the past, preferably something that has received no professional edits (edits from friends or family is fine!). At least 3,000 words preferred.
To submit the above, you can email the above in a PDF or Word Document to firstname.lastname@example.org! Note that on the anthology page, you will find a link at the bottom of the page to view further submission guidelines that are worth the read!
What’s next for Wild Blue Wonder Press? Another anthology?
Definitely another anthology! Our next one may be called Novelists in November. My idea is that it will be centered around the idea that the main character is a writer, probably dealing with some writer-related problems. Much like Springtime in Surrey, I hope to feature largely historical and contemporary authors. (I’ll note that I’ll have to get someone else on my team before I can work with other genres, due to my own expertise.)
However, we will be moving forward working with individual authors as much as possible.
How can writers get involved with the press? What ways can they help bring this idea to life, and how can Wild Blue Wonder Press help them bring their dreams into reality?
Right now, of course, anthology submissions are a big one. If you want to be a part of our anthology, please reach out to us! I’m also happy to help mentor you through the process. (Don’t worry—I don’t bite.)
If in the future, you might be interested in publishing a novel with Wild Blue Wonder Press, I would love to chat over email or even schedule a call with you to discuss what that would look like. Right now, I have planned out three potential imprints—Western, romance, and children’s fiction—in addition to our current women’s fiction novels, and I am considering doing more. If you want to influence the direction the press takes with its imprints, now may be a good time to express interest and let me know what you’re thinking!
In general, thoughts are always welcome. I enjoy talking through my ideas and hearing yours, so if you want to just email me (email@example.com) or message me on our social media, I’m happy to check!
Of course, I’m happy to do interviews like this one, participate in giveaways, and the like to promote the press. And when I do those things, any kind of help with shares/reshares gets the word out. Entering the giveaways helps a lot, too!
As for how we can help you, while we’re still getting on our feet, we can’t offer a ton of mentorship except for people in our anthologies OR hoping to be one of our authors on a future project, but if you fall into one of those two categories, we are happy to start helping you in any way possible—especially with making goals, developing your career plans, etc.
This is amazing, Kell! Thank you so much for coming on to share about Wild Blue Wonder Press! Before we go, could you tell us about your books and where readers can connect with you?
Of course! Right now, I have two main series out: a Victorian family saga centered around two sisters, The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy, and the Kees & Colliers series, a trilogy centered around two families navigating the tumultuous days of the WWI, the 1920s, the Great Depression, and WWII.
The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy is my baby, of course. Right now, I have the first six novels and two novelettes/short stories out, and I’ll be expanding it to 10+ novels over the years. I’ll also have my first spin-off story, Like a Ship on the Sea (The Hilton Legacy, #1), out in late 2023. This series is great for women 16-25 who enjoy somewhat dramatic books with deep themes and tough topics tackled in an honest but tasteful manner.
You can find out about those books (and me and my blog and everything else!) on my website, kellynrothauthor.com!
I have an email list you can sign up for on that website, too!
Wild Blue Wonder Press was established in January 2016 by Kellyn Roth for the purpose of independently publishing her historical women’s fiction series, The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy.
Based on a special location on her family’s property and a childhood stumbling over phrases, Kellyn chose the name to evoke feelings of wonder in a world full of dark valleys. After all, where there is snow and ice, there will be chickadees, and in the midst of the darkest woods, you can often find a cozy cabin.
As of January 2023, Wild Blue Wonder Press is beginning to work with other creatives to expand its outreach and help more independent writers achieve their dreams in a professional manner.
Wild Blue Wonder Press’s mission is to share fictional stories full of grace and truth. Our goal is to create stories that matter, to delve into the deepest and sometimes the saddest parts of life, and to return from the darkest valleys resplendent in the light of hope and the fullness of joy.
At present, we are specifically focusing on women’s fiction aimed at a “new adult” Christian audience. Our ideal reader is a young woman navigating life as an adult and asking big questions along the way. We tackle topics such as mental health, sexual sins, past trauma, and more in a godly light while also showing the positive hope that comes from healing through Jesus Christ.
springtime in surrey
You can find out about Springtime in Surrey on our anthology page. In particular, please see the “your submission” section to see what you will be submitting in January. (It’s not exactly your average collection of stories!)
The main idea is you’re pitching YOURSELF as much as your story (which does not have to be written—just outlined—at the time of submission.
Stories included in this collection will be:
Women’s fiction, generally aimed at young adult or adult audiences.
Vintage in style if not in setting.
Real-life characters & therefore real-life problems.
Heavy Christian themes.
May be historical or contemporary.
Featuring stories set in County Surrey, England.
Desired word count: 10,000-20,000 words. Flexibility may be available.
I don't know about y'all, but Wild Blue Wonder Press sounds wonderful!!! *winks* I've been working on my submission for Springtime in Surrey, and I absolutely cannot wait to submit it! How about you? Are you interested in being a part? How can Wild Blue Wonder Press help you on your journey to becoming a published author? Let us know in the comments below!