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Phoenix Media & Books: A Company Driven to Making a Positive Difference


Phoenix Media & Books Logo of a phoenix rising out of a book with the company name at the top of the image.

It was 2012 and I was a new author with a recently penned rhyming picture book about a boy who liked to fart. Like many of my stories, this one was inspired by my children, especially my three boys, and their fascination with making sounds with their bodies. Reading, writing, and verbal storytelling wasn't new to me. I'd done all of that for as long I could remember.


I learned how to read when I was three and spent my entire childhood reading voraciously. During my high school years, I surprised my teachers with innovative stories I wrote during journaling time. In college, I won a university wide writing contest that I entered at the last minute because I was broke and they offered a cash prize.


Later, I kept my friends, family, and collogues entertained with the recounting of my day to day trials and misadventures. I have always been team "laugh to keep from crying" so most of my stories ended in a funny twist. Because...life. When a close friend suggested I look into joining a professional writing organization, I did just that.


I was in my mid-30s when I joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and enrolled in my first writing conference. It was there that I quickly learned some things I'd never considered. Writing for publication was hard. Getting my writing noticed was even harder.


Katie Otey and Leia M. Johnson at an SCBWI conference in 2016









Photo:

Phoenix Media & Books CEO Katie Otey and COO Leia M. Johnson at an SCBWI conference in 2016.



But I was determined. I spent over a decade learning, attending conferences, reading craft books, running critique meetings, and growing the thick skin formed from receiving the inevitable rejections that come from a career in publishing. There were plenty of winning moments too, of course. I won several writing contests during this time and received strong, positive feedback from agents, editors, and fellow writers.



Katie Otey receiving a writing award and scholarship.

In April 2020, almost eight years after I first took strides to becoming a traditionally published author, I signed with The Purcell Agency. They sold my very first published picture book, Every Other Christmas, within months after representing me.


The cover of picture book Every Other Christmas by Katie Otey and S.J. Winkler

I was thrilled but the fact that I had almost zero chance of publication without an agent to submit my work wasn't lost on me. That manuscript, like all of my others, had been sitting for years, waiting for me to secure representation.


In this industry, most publishers will not even consider your work if you do not have an agent. This is one of many walls the industry puts up that I was determined to knock down.



My vision for Phoenix Media & Books is clear from the company motto: Connecting The World Through Inspired Stories. I truly believe that books inspired by real life experiences allow for much deeper connections and relatability with the reader. We live in a beautiful, diverse world, and all of our stories have value. When we can relate to one another, be it through a memoir, or a comedic picture book, humanity wins.


Here at Phoenix, we believe in collaboration and providing support for each creator. An author or illustrator need not have representation but they have to be willing to work hard as we take this journey towards publication together.


The cover of the picture book Sister by Leia M. Johnson and S. J. Winkler

We also believe in producing a quality product. This is why it was an extreme honor that our very first published book, Sister, by Leia M. Johnson and illustrator S. J. Winkler, received a Kirkus starred review.


Less than 10% of all reviewed books receive this honor from the industry's toughest reviewers. And less than 2% of those come from small independent publishers like Phoenix.


There are so many publishers, large and small, doing great things and producing wonderful books that will delight, inform, or even change the lives of readers. Here at Phoenix Media & Books, we are determined to make our mark in the industry as well. As for me, I am especially grateful that I can partner with other industry professionals that I also call friends to help make this company a success. The work we do is a team effort and I will never take the tremendous support I've received thus far for granted.


Please subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with what's coming next or to be informed when we open up for submissions. We hope to surprise and delight you with stories for your whole family to enjoy!

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