Wayzata High sophomore launches publishing company exclusively for teens

Minnetonka author hopes to inspire other young writers

Justin Anderson, a Wayzata High School sophomore who lives in Minnetonka, attended the Twin Cities Book Festival with his mom, Rachel, to launch Sigma’s Bookshelf, a small publishing company exclusively for teens. (Submitted photo)
Justin Anderson, a Wayzata High School sophomore who lives in Minnetonka, attended the Twin Cities Book Festival with his mom, Rachel, to launch Sigma’s Bookshelf, a small publishing company exclusively for teens. (Submitted photo)

Justin Anderson, a Wayzata High School sophomore who lives in Minnetonka, is hoping to inspire young writers with his latest project, a publishing company exclusively for teens.

Justin said the idea came about after self-publishing his own book, “Saving Stripes: A Kitty’s Story” in 2015. With the help of his mom, Rachel, who works in the book industry, the young writer got his book produced at a low cost.

“Teens are an age group that has a lot of writers who barely ever get a chance to publish because it’s too expensive,” Justin said.

Justin’s first book tells the true story of a rescue from the point of view of an orange tabby cat named Stripes. Justin and his mom, along with the help of neighbors, rescued Stripes and her family from a neighborhood park in Minnetonka.

In its first year, the book has sold more than 200 copies and raised thousands of dollars for S.O.S. Rescue Relief Inc., a nonprofit whose mission is to prevent the euthanasia of adoptable pets.

Selling copies of his book was an experience Justin wished to create for other aspiring teen writers. So, the young author went to his mom with the idea of creating a company that could help other teenage authors enjoy the experience of seeing their work published.

“When I told her about my idea, she said, ‘Let’s go for it,’” Justin said.

Sigma’s Bookshelf was officially launched at the Twin Cities Book Festival Oct. 15 in St. Paul. It was there that the publishing duo explained how the operation works. Manuscripts submitted online through the company’s website will go through a review process. Stories selected for possible publication will be offered a publishing package chosen by the writer. Justin said prices start at $35 to get a book proofread, edited and uploaded to a print on demand service, and all authors will receive royalties for books sold online and discounts on printed books purchased.

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“I’m hoping the low prices will encourage kids who maybe have a manuscript already, or a book idea in mind to decide to get their work published because there’s now a resource out there to help them,” Justin said, noting that his parents plan to help him pursue grant money so that company can eliminate the fee altogether.

The company accepts manuscripts in all genres from writers between the ages of 12 and 17.

The young writer said the name for the publishing company was inspired by Sigma, a lizard-like creature in his soon-to-be-released novel.

“Sigma is the 18th letter of the Greek alphabet, and in my book, ‘Nothing But Trouble,’ the 18th test subject in a cancer cure project,” Justin said.

Justin, an avid reader of science fiction, said his latest book follows Wilbur Watson, the owner of a small pharmaceutical company that often finds itself in hot water.

“One day, a mystery man offers him $5 million if he can find a cure for cancer in just 90 days,” Justin said. “He decides to go for it.”

And now Justin hopes young authors will decide to go for it by discovering and exploring what inspires them to write. For Justin, it’s the feeling of being in control.

“I can control the outcome,” Justin said. “I also like the fact that it allows me to share important lessons, like in order for you to change, sometimes life has to hit you hard.”

To learn more about Sigma’s Bookshelf, visit sigmasbookshelf.com.

Contact Jason Jenkins at [email protected]