Wharfinger’s Press is an independent publishing house that carries the vibe and esthetic of the historic Port Haney Wharf, hanging over The Mighty Fraser River and boasting views of The Golden Ears Mountains to the North, as well as Mount Baker and Mount Rainier across the Unites States’ border. Sturgeon swim within the river’s depths while eagles soar calmly overhead and thoughts are encouraged with each whistlerumble of a passing train. The aim of WP is to provide a platform for both unique Canadian voices, and writers abroad. We prefer the outsiders, outliers, misfits, rebels, under-privileged and under-represented.
At Wharfinger's Press, we work with our writers and clients directly as they pursue their own their literary journey. From an idea and rough draft, to editing and publication, Wharfinger's Press helps our authors produce high quality, interesting and entertaining books.
Beyond that, we can assist with a wide variety of graphic design needs for individuals and companies.
If you have a project and are seeking some creative assistance, we'd love to hear from you!
What is WP? Why is WP?
We are a small, cooperative publishing organization. We focus on the author or artist first, and their work second, and at all times we work closely with you to help with whatever you need to break the barriers that exist for many writers (especially the neurodiverse). We don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts and we are not a vanity press. We don’t charge any up-front or hidden fees to authors for our services. Instead, we help WP artists and authors towards their publishing aims, and we don’t get paid until everyone gets paid. Artists, authors and the editors and staff who work with you are all paid from book royalties once the book goes on sale. We don’t take your copyright away, and it’s in our interests to work to increase sales so that we can recover our costs. This is a labour of love. We started Wharfinger’s Press because we wanted to build a community of writers from underserved backgrounds and learn together through the process. We can show you what is possible, and help give you the support and confidence to get your writing and your art out there. Hopefully we make a profit. But if we don’t, we won’t leave you with a debt. It’s all up to us working together.
How do your authors get paid? Does WP take a huge portion of the profits forever?
We need to recoup our initial outlay of costs, but we will outline our expected cost schedule from the start, and that will not change. Again, there are no hidden fees and no upfront costs. This is why we select our authors carefully. We need to be able to bring the title to market and promote it confidently. Once our costs are recovered via our initially agreed percentage of the sales price (which we will agree with you beforehand - usually about 40%), your percentage of the profits from book sales will increase and we will only take 10-25% of profits after that, depending on how much work we have to do to continue sales of your book. This means that you will keep copyright on your own work, and you will get 75-90% of the profits while we continue to market your book, sell through our website, and maintain your profile.
We want everyone to get paid fairly, but we are a community organization and we also love to work on free things (such as DIY zines and guerilla advertising) that are experimental and not for profit anyway.
How can you afford to work like this? Why don’t other publishers do this?
We started WP with no capital, and our interest is in helping talented artists and writers with neurodiversities develop their craft and get to experience how books are made and promoted. We made the company initially because we couldn’t find any publishers for our own work who weren’t far too big or far too unscrupulous. Very few organizations (even author’s societies) actually support authors of talent to achieve their publishing aims, without signing up to expensive classes or buying books about how to get published. Many publishers make big claims, but we have chosen to make small claims instead. We have nothing but our own talent, experience and our developing network of supporters; libraries, local government organizations, bookshops, business owners, normal people, volunteers, shut-ins, the neurodiverse, and also anyone on the margins of society who needs a referral, advice, or help.
We have found that established writers and publishers, even small ‘independent’ ones fiercely protect their own and ring-fence the industry with pejorative and arbitrary lists of what a publisher needs to do before they are recognised as ‘legitimate’. This can mean, for example, that a micro-publisher has to have already published several books before they are eligible to join the distribution networks or receive the help that ‘independent’ and ‘small’ presses share in order to keep their costs down. Under current Canadian Council for the Arts regulations, we aren’t even recognized as a publisher (which we dispute). Other advice you may receive from so-called ‘industry professionals’ or ‘experts’ to avoid publishing services companies may be largely well-intentioned (though it often is not - there are many scams) but in this changing industry, everyone is scrambling to define legitimacy and to point fingers at people who operate differently, and call them ‘vanity presses’. Keep in mind that while these sorts of scams are everywhere (NEVER pay money to be published) this is an invented term, which has a shifting definition that is used for the convenience of the person who is using it.
New, small publishing ventures usually fail and it isn’t hard to see why; if you’re starting out trying to do the right thing in micro-publishing you’ll soon find that you have to have published a certain number of books before you’re eligible to receive a lot of the help that’s available. This is made harder at every turn by unnecessary pejoratives. For example, small companies that also offer publishing services for a fee, such as graphic design, or editing, are automatically labeled ‘vanity presses’. We find ourselves stuck between the Scylla of the ring-fenced publishing cabals, and the Charybdis of the wagging fingers that decry people like us who have to earn a living while we build our publishing house. For this reason we are planning to become a not-for-profit in the next year.
What’s the catch?
There’s no catch. We have almost no budget, but we have made remarkable things happen nevertheless. We encourage you to make your own enquiries and reassure yourself that we aren’t a scam. There won’t be buckets of money being spent indiscriminately on advertising or huge launch parties with caviar and champagne (unless we can all figure out how to do that for free; please please contact us with your ideas on this). We choose our authors carefully; we want to work with people who want to work and learn with us.
Feel free to contact us if you have any further questions about how we operate.
"Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together." - Vincent Van Gogh