When I stop and think about the job I have, my mind struggles to process it. Growing up, I wanted to work with books somehow; for a while, I even dreamed I’d work for a publisher, helping sort through submitted manuscripts to find the ones I wanted to publish. I thought it’d be amazing to help provide for others the thing that had sustained me for much of my life: books. The things which held stories that told me the world was bigger than the life I’d experienced. Whether it was fiction or nonfiction, I wanted to read it. I wanted to know more about how the author had developed the idea for the book, and I longed to hear about their determination to write and edit it. I was curious how the story had evolved from an abstract idea to the book in my hands, and I wanted to be a part of that process. But I grew up in a household where dreams were what you wished you had, and “real life” was where you did what needed to be done.
And yet…here I am.
I work for Josha Publishing, LLC, a woman-founded, woman-owned, and woman-run company. I work in acquisitions, helping find the manuscripts Josha wants to publish—ones that tell stories that inspire, encourage, and empower readers the same way so many books did exactly that for me when I was growing up. I also help authors further develop their manuscripts, if necessary, bringing out the glorious imperfections of their characters and accentuating the universal truths and resilience of their stories. But I don’t want to talk about what I do for Josha.
I want to talk about what Josha does—for me and for our readers—because it’s so much more than I ever dreamed I’d witness.
You see, Josha is more than a woman-founded, woman-owned, and woman-run company. Our founder, Shanna Hammerbacher, is someone who has survived myriad trauma and overwhelming poverty and she’s the daughter of a black man.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Our founder grew up experiencing many of the statistics and stereotypes we see so often portrayed in the media, the things that some may even use to keep people in poverty or people of color oppressed. And in her thirties, she founded a publishing company that not only wants to find those stories society prefers to silence so she can publish them, but she did it despite all the odds against her.
Shanna Hammerbacher isn’t just a founder or company owner; she’s more than our editor-in-chief, just like she’s so much more than a survivor…more than the daughter of a black man. Shanna is a shining example of what resilience truly means, and through her example, many of us can see that overcoming obstacles is possible no matter what we face. She believes representation matters and she is a representative for so many people.
Still, she takes it one step further, seeking out and producing stories that inspire, encourage, and empower readers. It wasn’t enough for her to rise—she turned right back around and is working to help others achieve their dreams, too.
I’m filled with such wonder and awe when I think of how significant that is. Even a hundred years ago, the idea that a woman would own a business—let alone a half-black woman—would have been unthinkable. Yet here we are, even in an age when privilege is so commonly the baseline for success. However, Shanna’s story—the story of Josha—is different. When I set out to pursue a career in publishing, I had no idea that I’d get to be a part of a story that books are written about. This is representation, it’s progress, it’s history…and it’s an honor for everyone involved with Josha, whether performing services or as an author, to be a part of it.
Josha Publishing, LLC is a woman-founded, woman-owned, and woman-run company that is passionate about books, stories, and the power of words to change lives. Learn more about us here and remember to sign up for our newsletter to find out about new content, new books, and submissions update.