Our Written Lives (OWL) is a small Christian-based publishing company founded by Rachael Hartman. She developed a vision for the company in 2008 when she received a call from God to write and publish.
"When I first felt the call, I didn't dream I would start a company," Hartman said. "I just thought I was supposed to write and have someone else publish what I wrote."
But fate took a different turn after Hartman began submitting her manuscript. She could not find the right fit and after a few years of working in the writing/publishing industry, OWL was born. Hartman was working another job at the time, so the first couple of books she published free of charge. But, soon she realized that in order for her business to grow, she would have to start charging for publishing. "The experiences pushed ME to grow, or I knew I would have to dissolve the business," she said. "I began making changes and every change was for the best. I don't regret charging for the work I do. I do good work for a fair price, much lower than my contemporaries."
Most of Hartman's clients cover the initial publishing fee after selling their first 50 books.
The hardest part of Hartman's job has been rejecting authors. "Sometimes their writing is so bad that they need to go to school, take writing classes, etc.," she said. "I want to help everyone, but I'm only one person. I'm very real with people and I tell them what it takes to be successful. The truth is, it's highly unlikely they will become rich or not have to work simply because they publish a book. I have deflated some unrealistic expectations. It's not easy, but it's the right thing to do to be honest with people."
While OWL is a Christian-based publishing company, that is not the only type of work Hartman will publish. As long as the book does not conflict with her values, she will consider it. Most of the books she has worked with have been testimonies. She also has a few children's books. But, she primarily focuses on non-fiction. While she has published a couple of fiction books, it is certainly not her forte. She was trained to edit non-fiction and those are the books she enjoys reading.
But, non-fiction or fiction, Hartman stresses to aspiring published authors to write and share the stories they have inside themselves. "You have it for a reason," she said. "It's not about the number of people it reaches. It's about you sharing. Don't wait around for some bigwig to accept you. Do what you can with what you have and trust God will do the rest."
Hartman said she would like close with a quote from her free e-book that will be available on her website soon:
What you write may be the key that allows someone to unlock understanding; it may be one more step in the right direction; or one more breath of fresh air. The words you write may be the bone marrow match for a reader's situation, the water they need to live another day, just enough to pay a bill.
Write, even if millions of people have access to the words, but only hundreds read it.
Write, even if writing bares your soul and you're left alone and exposed.
Write, for your life was meant to bring the hope of Christ to those who know and read it.
And so, God blesses us with "Our Written Lives of Hope" to share with the world.