More information Visit sigmasbookshelf.com to learn more about the company, submitting a manuscript or donating. The launch party for “Nothing But Trouble” and “The Murder at Emerson’s” will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 24, at the Barnes & Noble Booksellers at 2100 Snelling Ave. in Roseville. The teen authors of the two books will talk about the inspirations behind their stories and do readings. After the authors are finished, Rachel Anderson will talk about Sigma’s Bookshelf. The event is free and open to the public.
This story has kittens, creatures, CEOs and enterprising teens, but at the heart of the tale are people who help others realize their dreams.
Justin M. Anderson has been living the dream of many adults even though the Minnetonka resident is just 16. Shortly after finishing eighth grade at Wayzata East Middle School, Justin published a book, “Saving Stripes: A Kitty’s Story” that has sold nearly 300 copies. Soon, he’ll be celebrating the publication of his first novel by a publishing company that he started.
That company, Sigma’s Bookshelf, will also help other teens accomplish their goals of being published authors in a chain of goodwill that started with a well-known local entrepreneur.
ACTS OF GENEROSITY
When “Saving Stripes” first came out in 2015, Justin’s mother, Rachel M. Anderson, was working with Minnetonka Beach resident John B. Goodman, of the Goodman Group, on his memoir. At one meeting, Goodman told Rachel he’d like to know a little more about her. Being immensely proud of her son’s accomplishment, she told him about “Saving Stripes.”
Goodman was impressed and ordered 25 copies of the book. He gave a few to his staffers, but the majority went to children at his intergenerational learning centers in Florida and Minnesota, Rachel said.
In December of 2015, several months after the order was placed, Justin accompanied his mother to an event where he got a chance to meet Goodman. After the introductions were made, Goodman reached into his wallet and gave Justin $200 telling the teen to do something good with the money.
Since all proceeds from the sales of “Saving Stripes” go to S.O.S. Rescue Relief Inc., a Plymouth nonprofit that aims to prevent euthanasia of adoptable animals, Justin decided to use the money to procure more copies of the book so more animals could be helped.
A few months later, in March 2016, Goodman died following complications of a heart attack. Justin and Rachel paid their respects at a celebration of life and talked to each other about Goodman’s legacy.
“It was sad that such a generous guy was gone,” Justin said.
Justin wanted to help others as Goodman had helped him. He had already been toying around with the idea of creating a publishing company, and he ultimately decided to combine the two concepts. In October of 2016, Sigma’s Bookshelf was launched.
Sigma’s Bookshelf is a publishing company that only works with teen authors. Teens who have completed manuscripts may submit them through the company’s website.
The submitted work is read by Justin and Rachel, and they decide which manuscripts Sigma’s Bookshelf will publish. When they settle on an author and get approval from the writer’s parents to proceed, they begin working on the manuscript. Writers may receive suggestions about plot or be asked to submit a revised manuscript. Rachel edits the work and the book is proofed before it’s published. The writers are also asked to submit their own cover art.
All of this is done at no cost to the teens or their families. The only cost they may incur is if they decide to purchase copies of the book. In that case, the family will get books at a discounted rate that is basically just the cost of producing the book, Rachel said.
“We don’t just want to publish books; we want to help people through the process,” Justin said.
When the process is completed, the published authors will have books available for sale online at sites such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
The Andersons are gearing up to celebrate the launch of the first two novels from Sigma’s Bookshelf during a Saturday, June 24, party at the Roseville Barnes & Noble Booksellers.
One of them is “Nothing But Trouble,” written by Justin. The 144-page novel is about a not-so-ethical pharmaceutical CEO and his attempts to get a cure for cancer on the market that entangle a teenage boy who is fighting the disease. One of the characters in the book is a creature named Sigma, who is the namesake for the publishing company.
The second book is “The Murder at Emerson’s” written by 13-year-old Ruby Schwieger of Roseville. That story is about a couple of students who turn into amateur sleuths after stumbling on a murder scene at their school.
Books slated to be published by the company in the future include “Night of the Crown” by 16-year-old Hunter Thompson of Plymouth and “Guardian Angel” by 14-year-old Kayla Klanreungsang of Manitoba, Winnipeg.
While the writers and their families don’t pay for the services that bring their books to the market, there are costs associated with it. This year, the Andersons would like to publish at least five books by teen authors. Their fundraising goal to make that possible is $5,000. Recently, the Wayzata Rotary Club donated $500 to Sigma’s Bookshelf to help the cause.
“The whole idea is to empower the kids,” Rachel said.